George Walford: Principle Number One

In December 1986 we attended a meeting of the Camden and North-West London Branch on the subject of “Russia and Socialism.” The speaker was well informed about Russia; to judge from incidental references he spoke the language and had been there in the early
days of the Revolution. We learnt from him. Socialism was not touched upon, except for the assertion – which we fully accept – that Russia is not, in the sense this party gives the word, a socialist country.

The speaker having said that Russia is governed by bureaucrats we asked, in discussion, whether these owed their ruling position to ownership of the means of production, and were assured they did not; their power, the speaker said, was politically based. Is the party to which the speaker belongs willing to accept this? In every one of its publications that party includes its Declaration of Principles, and Principle No.1 declares this:

That Society as at present constituted is based upon the ownership of the means of living (i.e. land, factories, railways, etc.) by the capitalist or master class, and the consequent enslavement of the working class by whose labour alone wealth is produced.

That was printed in the Socialist Standard for the month in which the meeting on Russia was held, yet the speaker assured us that the rulers of a substantial part of present society derive their power from a source other than ownership of the means of living.

from Ideological Commentary 26, March 1987.