Steven Plaut: Just What Was Fundamentally Wrong with Bolshevism?

Roundup: Talking About History

Steven Plaut is a native Philadelphian who teaches business finance and economics at the University of Haifa in Israel.  He holds a PhD in economics from Princeton. He is author of the David Horowitz Freedom Center booklets about the Hamas and Jewish Enablers of the War against Israel.

...Part of their problem was that Marx and Engels were themselves wrong with regard to just about everything.  They were wrong, first and foremost, with regard to the claim that there exists some sort of monolithic “working class” with some sort of uniform set of “class interests.”   Urban workers share no common interest, as the above example involving shoe prices illustrates.   Urban workers indeed were a “class” with a common interest only in the most tautological sense, only in the sense that all those assigned to any “class” would favor increases in the incomes and wealth for all members of that “class.”   By the same token, people with curly hair constitute a “class,” because any proposal to raise incomes for all those with curls would be supported by them.   But regarding any other issue that would arise, the curly headed would have no common interest.  Ditto for urban workers.  And in the exact same sense, there is no capitalist class.  An assembly of the “capitalist class” would similarly be incapable of agreeing over whether shoe prices should be high or low.

And just why were urban “workers” even considered to be politically superior to everyone else in society?  Marx, Engels and the Soviet leadership had great difficulty conceiving of anyone doing productive work unless they were making “things.“   And heavy “things” were more valuable, important, and productive than light “things.”   Certainly producing services was not understood by them as productive labor, explaining why the quality of services of all sorts in the Soviet block remained abysmal all the way down to the fall of communism.

But just what was a “worker”?   Do not bankers and teachers and dentists and engineers and pharmacists work?   In many cases, they work longer hours than factory workers.  Marx and Engels had insisted that urban factory workers must seize political control of society, and they must do so by means of a dictatorship by the party claiming to speak in their name.  In any case, Marx and Engels were pretty sure that peasants did not really provide important “work.”  After all, they just produce food.  So they need not really be part of any revolutionary regime....

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