Just What Was Fundamentally Wrong with Bolshevism?

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.


I recently read the new biography of Trotsky by Oxford don Robert Service, published in 2009 by Pan Books.  It is well-written and surprisingly interesting.  The book does a great public service in describing the life of the actual Trotsky, whose previous “biographies” were little more than hagiographies written by his toady worshippers (people like Isaac Deutscher).  The last time that I had taken any interest in Trotsky was when I was a teenager and had fleeting delusions of believing in “socialism.”   Reading the new book as an adult and as an economist, I found it a useful opportunity to contemplate the rise of one of the most oppressive regimes in human history.   I have gathered some thoughts and impressions here and I hope they will be of interest.

Hunger and starvation have so often accompanied “political revolution” that it would be safe to suggest that they are intrinsic parts of it.  Communist revolutions have invariably produced famines and terror.  The immediate trigger for “revolutionary terror” in early Soviet Russia was the same as in the French Revolution: the inability of the regime to obtain food for urban residents.

The Bolsheviks had never had very much interest in the peasants in the first place.   As great believers in Marxist theology, they advocated the imposition by the “proletariat” of urban workers of “its” will upon the country, including upon the agricultural laborers who constituted the bulk of the population.  Even if the Bolshevik party could seriously be thought to represent the urban “proletariat,” they would still have constituted a movement representing only a very small portion of Russian society.  Thus bolshevism’s most basic operating principles were anti-democratic.

The Bolsheviks represented a movement seeking to impose the interests of this minority “class” over the interests of the bulk of Russian society (and later over non-Russian populations in the Soviet empire).  The role assigned by the communists to the peasants was to sit back and turn over food to the “revolution,” either without getting paid for it or without getting paid very much.  The Bolshevik state procurement of food operated through a state-run monopoly, preventing peasants from seeking better prices, and increasingly turned violent when peasants refused to cooperate.   The communists considered payment of incentives to peasants for delivering food to be anti-revolutionary and capitalist.  The most violent stages of the French Revolution had been triggered by similar inability of the “revolutionary state” to procure adequate food for urban “workers.”  Armed gangs of Soviet foragers, like Parisian foragers before them in the French revolution, emptied the stores of food in rural areas in a desperate attempt to prevent their own loss of power.

The other problem for the Bolsheviks was of course that they claimed to represent “the working class” of urban workers, but never considered it necessary to allow those same members of the “proletariat” a say in what they themselves considered their “class interests” to be.   The communist party leaders claimed to represent the proletariat automatically, supernaturally, by dint of their having studied Marx and Engels.  Under their theology they could automatically divine from the dusty 80 year old writings of Marx what served the interests of the Russian “working class,” without having to ask any actual workers, and in most cases without having to engage in actual work.  Party leaders, led by Lenin and Trotsky, lived bourgeois lives even in the most difficult days of the Russian Civil War, often living in luxurious royal apartments inside the Kremlin (which had been the royal residence before the Revolution).  Soviet leaders were attended by large numbers of servants, and Trotsky himself never went anywhere during the Civil War without both his large flock of servants and a 35-member military band.   Bolshevik leaders (Trotsky in particular) generally had never done a day of honest labor in their lives in any factory or farm; their entire “careers” consisting of political activism.

The Bolsheviks believed that they could divine the answers to what the “workers” collectively needed in much the same way that Church clergy could conjure up the agenda of God, by reading the holy scriptures.   And like other manifestations of theology, the Bolsheviks tended to bicker and break up into small factions over minor questions of belief.  Like in the Church, the factionalism was suppressed by means of the proclamation of official dogma approved by the party’s Pope.   It was the beginning of the thought police system, later perfected by Mao.

In the case of communists, these scriptures meant Marx and Engels, and later Lenin.  The problem of course was that Marx and Engels never spelled out the nitty gritty details of what “workers” would need, and basically had no understanding whatsoever of economics.  They can hardly be excused for this ignorance on grounds of writing before the advent of modern economic understanding, because it was already well on the course of development at that time.

As just one example of the problem, should the price of shoes in a “workers’ state” be high in order to benefit shoe workers producing shoes, or low to benefit workers who are consumers?  And if the representatives of the proletariat cannot make up their minds about the price of shoes, then how the Devil can they decide what constitutes “worker interest” in thousands of other dilemmas.  Asking the workers themselves what they wanted was quickly ruled out by the Bolsheviks as a counter-revolutionary nonstarter.

The solution of the early Soviet regime was essentially to suppress and terrorize urban workers, not just the peasants.  Before the end of the Civil War, Lenin and Trotsky were ordering all independent labor unions, meaning those that were not simply servile fronts for the party, to be suppressed.  Lenin and Trotsky insisted that unions represented and promoted only the narrow interests of selected groups of “proletarians” and not of the entire “class.”  Exactly!

In fact, the “alienation” of the “urban workers” by the party had occurred even earlier.  The Bolshevik coup and the storming of the Winter Palace were uprisings of the “working class” only in party mythology.  The bulk of those rising up in support of the Bolsheviks were soldiers in the Czarist or Kerenski armies, who supported the party because of the promise by Lenin to surrender to the Central powers and end all fighting and mobilization of troops.

The Bolshevik banner may have featured the hammer of the urban worker with the sickle of the peasant, but at the time of the Revolution it was little more than a party of disgruntled soldiers and sailors, most from rural background, reluctant to be sent back to the World War I front to defend Russia.  Their opportunistic support for the Bolsheviks largely vanished in thin air as soon as the party tried to mobilize them and send them out to fight the “whites” during the civil war.  Trotsky was forced to recruit ex-czarist officers to serve as commanders in the Red Army.

The main groups of soldiers supporting the party with enthusiasm were non-Russians desiring the end of Russian domination over their native lands, like the brigades of Latvian riflemen who served as Lenin’s praetorian guards.  By 1921, the same Kronstadt sailors who had been critical in bringing the Bolsheviks to power in 1917 were shooting them and organizing a massive mutiny, brutally suppressed by the communists.  The suppression of the rebellion led Whittaker Chambers to label bolshevism a form of fascism, and persuaded many of those who contributed later to the book, “The God that Failed,” to abandon communism.  As in the French Revolution, all opposition was automatically attributed by the “Revolutionaries” to foreign conspiracies.  Dissent was a form of treason.

Bolshevik thinking in the early days carried strong features of theology.  The Bolsheviks believed that if they were to follow the precepts of Marx to the letter, and pronounce the correct incantations, then magic would take place and socialist revolutions would spring up all over the world like adorable leprechauns.  This voodoo Marxism eventually led to the rise of Stalin and totalitarian “socialism in one country.”   And an ice pick in the skull of Trotsky.

Most Bolshevik leaders had no skills or experience in government administration, management, business, or anything else.  Their only claim to legitimacy was their assertion that they understood the needs of the “proletariat.”   Trotsky believed in command control and central “planning” of the economy until his last breath, and he was hardly alone.  Within days of seizing power in their coup d’etat, the Bolshevik leaders were seeking to impose their “dictatorship of the proletariat,” by which they meant the dictatorship of those party officials, more often than not from middle class backgrounds, claiming to represent the proletariat.  The Russian economy imploded under their rule.  Output of Russian factories and mines in 1921 was only a seventh of what it had been under the Czar in 1913.

Their understanding of foreign powers and diplomacy was even more pathetic than their ignorance of economics, and was also dominated by belief in magic.  During the first years of the Soviet regime, its leaders quite seriously expected communist revolutions to break out all over Europe.  And they were truly surprised when none did, except pathetic attempts – quickly suppressed – to install bolshevism in Germany and Hungary.

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.

Peasant reluctance to deliver food products to the urban “masses” without getting paid was “counter-revolutionary” and could be resolved by starving them to death, terrorizing them, and locking them up in non-productive collective farms.  There food production would prove too low even to feed the peasants themselves, let alone export food to the cities.  The Bolsheviks were truly surprised when it turned out that their policies had driven the bulk of the peasants to support the “whites” and other opposition forces in the Civil War.  While agrarian collectivism was relaxed briefly under the “New Economic Policy” of Lenin’s last days, it then became an instrument of genocide under Stalin.

The other problem of the Bolsheviks was that, at least in the early stages of the “Revolution,” they were truly captivated by utopian delusions.  The problem of all utopians is that they advocate systems and ideas that can only work with imaginary idyllic humans, but never with real human beings.  When they discover that real human beings refuse to knuckle under and behave according to utopian expectations, the utopianists respond with violent rage.  The greatest strength of capitalism is that it actually works with real human beings, people who are lazy, base, narcissistic, self-indulgent, foul-smelling, mean-spirited, and unsophisticated.  Capitalism does not require idyllic fictional humans in order for it to work.

The most violent terrorists and oppressors of others have always been the utopians.  The French Revolution turned violent and the guillotine was introduced to attempt to terrorize actual humans into behaving according to the expectations of the utopianists.  The leaders of the Soviet Revolution were no slower or more squeamish in following the same route.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.  

  • UCSPanther

    George Orwell nailed it in Animal Farm. Since that book was written, communist revolutions, no matter where they occur always have followed the plot such as in Cuba, Nicaragua, Cambodia, China, etc.

    • Mary Sue

      yeah, despite all protests that those examples "weren't really communism" and failed because "the right people weren't in charge." Eh, the right people will NEVER be in charge.

      • Christian West

        If THIS wasn't even the real communism then try to imagine the horror the REAL communism would bring.

        • Mary Sue

          I know right!

      • EthanP

        The "right' people are never in charge, EVER, ANYWHERE. When the people in charge have no accountability you get Stalin, Mao and Sadam. Remember that at Party assembilies, the attendies wouldn't stop clapping for fear of being noticed as the first to stop. A sure death sentence.

      • objectivefactsmatter

        "weren't really communism"

        It makes you wonder when Western politicians really did start studying the history of Islam. "It's not real sharia, we'll win once we're pious enough."

        "Eh, the right people will NEVER be in charge."

        Because they don't exist, can't exist in reality. Communism and socialism are delusions. As ideas to inspire compassion or a better way, I don't mind people advocating change. But when they lie and don't allow sensible people to correct them, that is what leads to this mess…these messes.

        Darwin was no communist, but his big book inspired all of these dreamers for a "better way" once they "discovered" that Judeo Christianity was a "fraud." That is at the root of all this class warfare. It didn't help that they were able to abuse history with stories about popes and inquisitions, but when I say "abuse" I am really understating what's happened since then through revisionist liars.

    • mary

      Is this an article about the present day or history?

      • mlcblog

        Yes.

    • mlcblog

      Yup. Truth is truth, remains the same.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    "As just one example of the problem, should the price of shoes in a “workers’ state” be high in order to benefit shoe workers producing shoes, or low to benefit workers who are consumers? And if the representatives of the proletariat cannot make up their minds about the price of shoes, then how the Devil can they decide what constitutes “worker interest” in thousands of other dilemmas. Asking the workers themselves what they wanted was quickly ruled out by the Bolsheviks as a counter-revolutionary nonstarter."

    That's just one of billions of "trivial" details that can trash an economy in very short order. Fundamentals like this used to be taught to students in US public schools. When did it stop?

    • Sandy

      It did not stop. That is how Obama got back in the White House.

      • objectivefactsmatter

        >Fundamentals like this used to be taught to students in US public schools. When did it stop? (Teaching correctly the theories of capitalism).

        "It did not stop. That is how Obama got back in the White House."

        I don't get it.

  • Nodir

    Great job!

  • truebearing

    Steven, your article should be required reading for every student in America….but of course the neo-communists running our schools and country would never allow it. Well done, nonetheless.

    America's utopianists are every bit as ruthless and deluded as any Bolshevik. When the conservatives, who happen to be mostly white, refuse to knuckle under, Obama will racially demonize them and incite racial violence from his coalition of minorities. Actually, he has already begun to do just that.

    Leftists don't simply want power. They want to exercise power in extreme ways. They need to see their power effected in destructive ways. Since they are really only good at nihilism, when they get power, they use it to destroy.

    It is truly amazing that a bunch of nihilists convinced themselves that they have the secret to utopia, when 100% of their attempts at imposing "utopia" have been such horrible failures. It is disgusting and worrisome that so many Americans are too stupid to learn from recent history or recognize what is happening.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "America's utopianists are every bit as ruthless and deluded as any Bolshevik. When the conservatives, who happen to be mostly white, refuse to knuckle under, Obama will racially demonize them and incite racial violence from his coalition of minorities."

      On first blush this statement seems hyperbolic, but maybe today's circumstances are all that keep them from taking guns to the classes they seem to hate just as much as their ideological ancestors hated the royals. That makes them even more irrational by the way. I'm morally equivalent to a royal because I oppose their madness? Arguments I've heard from them would seem to suggest this is the case.

      "Leftists don't simply want power. They want to exercise power in extreme ways."

      Because their predecessors taught them that their power must be total in order to plan things "centrally" from the "commanding heights" of their office.

      "They need to see their power effected in destructive ways."

      They would tell you under confession that they are building a better future, and today's "corrupt system" is in the way. It must be destroyed for them to build utopia.

      "Since they are really only good at nihilism, when they get power, they use it to destroy. "

      Maybe. I think your earlier comments offered a complete explanation without need for this last sentence. There are just too many complicated motives to understand why communism only leads to destruction. If they were uniformly nihilist I don't think they'd have these dreams of utopia, but I could be wrong. Maybe morally nihilistic but not materially. They care about things, trust me.

      • truebearing

        I agree that the isn't entirely nihilistic. They are more materialistic than anyone. What makes their nihilism so mind numbingly stupid is that they direct it at the very people who give meaning and value to material. They crush the human spirit that creates useful material, all because they are enamored of an ideology that can't work, and are filled with envy, resentment, and malice. From the very beginning, they are motivated by negative emotions which they rationalize with the great anti-ethic, the end justifies the means. Self-deluded as they are, they fail to see that the means conditions the end and can't be separated from the outcome.

        Then there are those at the very top who see that there are great flaws in the thinking of Marx and Engels but also see that Marxism is the philosopher's stone of would be dictators. They adhere to PT Barnum as much as Marx, knowing that there is a sucker born every minute who will fall for the promises of utopia, and who is prone to resent and hate those more fortunate. The Left knows that envy is the deadliest sin….they built a dark psychology around that truth.

    • carrie

      “I am confident we can create a Kingdom right here on Earth”
      - BARACK OBAMA, speaking to a multi-racial evangelical church in Greenville, South Carolina

  • Tarleton

    The Bolsheviks clearly were using the French Revolution as a prototype to building ''Heaven upon the Earth '' ….THIS is clearly the religious impulse shoehorned into secular belief …BEWARE THE TRUE BELIEVERS IN SECULAR OR RELIGIOUS FORM

    It's easy to imagine Lenin as a 18th C Russian travelling ''Holy Man '' burning with the zeal of the converted , Or Trotsky as a 20th C , jewish version of the Apostle Paul , or the serene face of the founder of the KGB, Felix Djerinsky as Grand Inquisitor in a utopian religion of CLASS

    The Nazis were just the utopian RACE RELIGION version of it ….Hitler was the messiah , like the founder of all cults and religions , a delusional , psychopathic personality

    • carrie

      We are the joyous Hitler youth,
      We do not need any Christian virtue
      Our leader is our savior
      The Pope and Rabbi shall be gone
      We want to be pagans once again.”
      Song sung by Hitler youth

      “The heaviest blow which ever struck humanity was Christianity; Bolshevism is Christianity’s illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew.”
      Hitler's Table-Talk, p. 7

      "Had Charles Martel not been victorious at Poitiers -already, you see, the world had already fallen into the hands of the Jews, so gutless a thing Christianity! -then we should in all probability have been converted to Mohammedanism [Islam], that cult which glorifies the heroism and which opens up the seventh Heaven to the bold warrior alone. Then the Germanic races would have conquered the world. Christianity alone prevented them from doing so."
      Adolf Hitler

      • jmz

        the sad part is to a certain extent that last one about christianity being gutless is right. how many times are we told to "turn the other cheek" love thy enemy…etc. at what point do WE christian conservatives get to fight back? we stupidly follow the rules our enemies set for us and cant figure out why we loose. Sorry, but the "meak" will not inherit anything except scraps, enslavement, death and oblivion. history is written by the winners of fights not by the looser meak….i mean WEAK.

    • Jacobite

      Forget the Hitler thing! You are missing the main point — Hitler was not anti-German, while the Reds began the systematic destruction of Russian society and culture almost immediately. Now, Hitler is a tough case because he burned to save, not the actual Germany, but a mythological Germany, perhaps an 'essential' Germany. But the danger was not imaginary, and because German culture, religion, and society were in fact under attack by the degenerates of the Weimar Culture, people easily picked Hitler as the lesser of two evils. Remember that Lenin and especially Trotsky could hardly wait for the Civil War to end before abolishing any trace of the Russian Orthodox Church. Of course, any society is founded upon it's particular religion, as religion provides the commonly-accepted rules and values shared by every member of the society, and required to maintain it. When the Wehrmacht invaded Russia, Stalin hid under his desk, but the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church got on the radio to rally Russians to fight the Great Patriotic War. Nobody will fight for Comunism, just as nobody will fight for capitalism.

  • john butala

    All policies that start out attempting to equalize outcomes ends up oppressing everybody. Without fail. At the core of every utopian leftist beats the heart of a fascist wishing for total control over everybody. Why is 99% of all poltically-associated vandalism committed by leftists? Why is it always conservatives and not lib/leftists who get shouted down and assaulted when trying to speak at colleges or other venues by petty fascists? Why is anyone critical of people who are liberals accused of being racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. without the leftist accusers even bothering to formulate a coherent argument?
    Because that is the inevitable course of action for all leftists. They are very similar to the religious fanatics of old, and like the religious fanatics, the leftist fanatics cannot tolerate dissent from the leftist orthodoxy.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "All policies that start out attempting to equalize outcomes ends up oppressing everybody."

      Of course, because it's worse than a "zero sum" game. It rewards laziness. It's a negative sum game by the time you pay for the judge-governor, and you factor in the demotivating effects.

      This is not taught to students today. If it was ever taught to any student, nobody could forget these simple logical truths. People like Obama would not get away with these absurd promises among anyone but the real losers. There are working people who voted for this madness. How silly is that?

      • Maxie

        " There are working people who voted for this madness." People everywhere are fearful. Life is a challenge and when a narcissistic leader appears to allay those fears with 'hope-and-change oratory and gifts from the treasury it's an alliance forged in hades. The masses get free stuff and the narcissist wallows in adulation. But eventually the party must end as reality intrudes. The end is not pretty and it may take decades. The USSR lasted about sixty years and is still disfunctional.

  • http://www.kribhdairyfarms.com/Technology.asp kribhdairyfarms

    ear is what we learned here.” by Marianne Williamson.|”Truth is not only violated by falsehood it may be outraged by silence.” by Henri Frdric Amiel.|”Art is science made clear.” by Jean Cocteau.|”Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness.” by Sigmund Freud.|”The rights of one are as sacred as the rights of a million.” by Eugene V. Debs.|”Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.” by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.|”The best education in the world is that got by struggling to get a living.” by Wendell Phillips.|”Be silent as to services you have rendered, but speak of favours you have received.” by Seneca.|”Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favor.” by Robert Frost.|”Charity begins at home.” by Terence.|”I can resist anything but temptation.” by Oscar Wilde.|”Now my innocence begins to weigh me down.” by Francois Rabelais.|”Not only is the universe stranger than we thi

    • objectivefactsmatter

      |"The rights of one are as sacred as the rights of a million." by Eugene V. Debs"

      In theory this makes sense. The problem is when you try to weigh the best interests of the million collectively. Who speaks for them? You can't protect any "rights of a million" without protecting their individual rights above all else, otherwise you simply empower tyrants.

    • George Z

      What a great list. I find the Henri Amiel particularly moving today-especially regarding Jews.

      Thank you.

      George Zilbergeld

  • Larry

    One of the crucial and critical books for looking at just how moronic communism is was written by a Russian writer by the name of Yevgeny Zamyatin in 1921. It's called "We", and was never published in the USSR, and probably hasn't been since the fall of the Soviets.
    However, the manuscript was smuggled out to England and it underwent an initial small print run there, and was almost certainly read by Eric Blair and Aldous Huxley, as it was going the rounds of Cambridge during their time there.
    It prefigures Animal Farm, 1984, and Brave New World, and if you read all of them the influence of Zamyatin is crystal clear.

    • Pferdinando

      Zamyatin's "We" has been published in Russia during the "pererstroika" period.

    • New Yorker

      Read the works of Alexander Zinoviev, Logician and sociologist by profession, especially those written by him in the 1970's – 1980's. He showed the best he could what communism was and is really about by analyzing the structure and workings of the communist society in the former USSR. His works are an eye opener.

    • mlcblog

      It's available on Amazon.

  • tagalog

    Just to address one question that's raised here: the "worker" is the industrial worker. That's why the Marxists of the late 19th Century and the early 20th Century expected the worldwide Marxist revolution to begin in Germany, where the most skilled -and class-conscious- industrial workers were located. The workers of the United States were considered a special case in that their organized labor movement was interpreted by European Marxists as co-opted by the capitalists and therefore the American workers' revolution was going to be hindered.

    When the Communist revolution broke out in the unindustrialized Russia, it was decided quite early that the new Soviet Union had to be industrialized so as to create a class of industrial workers for whom the Bolshevik Revolution would actually work. They put the cart before the horse that time, and slaughered tens of millions in the name of industrialization.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "When the Communist revolution broke out in the unindustrialized Russia, it was decided quite early that the new Soviet Union had to be industrialized so as to create a class of industrial workers for whom the Bolshevik Revolution would actually work. They put the cart before the horse that time, and slaughered tens of millions in the name of industrialization."

      True, but this is also the excuse they give today for the failure. It can't ever work though.

  • tagalog

    But most importantly, Marxism carries the seeds of own destruction in its very makeup in that Marxism claims that the most moral economic system is the command system, in which the central authority -as a practical matter in every case, the state- is the only means by which worker oppression by the employing, capitalist class, along with the profit motive and competition, can be avoided. The state therefore represents the interests of the working class, the people who produce the wealth and who are therefore entitled to own it. Since the state represents the working class, the state decides how to allocate social benefits and costs. Also, the state, as the representative of the working class, is best equipped to allocate the labor itself among workers (thus making slave labor almost inevitable), and therefore whatever it requires is required in the name of the people, and anyone who resists is an anti-social criminal.

    Furthermore, Marxism is deterministic; history is going to bring about the classless society via the revolutionary working class, and therefore the state, acting as the material expression of the will of the working class, is always right and MUST be obeyed, because history demands it.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "But most importantly, Marxism carries the seeds of own destruction in its very makeup in that Marxism claims that the most moral economic system is the command system, in which the central authority -as a practical matter in every case, the state- is the only means by which worker oppression by the employing, capitalist class, along with the profit motive and competition, can be avoided. "

      But in fact communism is simply guaranteed tyranny. It's just tyranny repackaged with a new master and new labels.

  • medlaw

    …and will the ‘utopianists’ who seek to rule in the US be any slower or any bit less squeamish in terrorizing Americans???

    HINT: "ObamaCare", Independent Payment Advisory Boards (IPABs)

    ANSWER: No, neither slower nor less squeamish – nor less brutal.

  • tagalog

    Since we know that the state is often wrong, and a state whose fundamental philosophical and moral claim is that by its very nature it never makes mistakes is a state that is riding for a fall, not only Bolshevism but all forms of Marxism are doomed to failure as long as they rely on command system economics.

    Not to mention that command systems don't work for the reasons Hayek pointed out in his famous work, The Road to Serfdom.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "Not to mention that command systems don't work for the reasons Hayek pointed out in his famous work, The Road to Serfdom."

      If you haven't had your brain flooded with silliness since the age of 5 or younger, this stuff is acutely obvious. The problem is how do we reach in to the brains of these lemmings and wake them up to the fact they've been brainwashed to reject rational replies to their programmed rhetoric?

  • Galveston

    communism/socialism are both ways for the unambitious, and lazy to feel good about themselves

  • Demetrius M

    "Bolshevik leaders (Trotsky in particular) generally had never done a day of honest labor in their lives in any factory or farm; their entire “careers” consisting of political activism."
    Holy jumping Jehoshaphat, who does that remind you of?!

    • "gunner"

      that was the first thought that rose in my mind. a "community organiser" who has never raised a crop, driven a truck hauling goods to market, worked a production line, sold goods in the market place. espousing an obsolete and originally flawed theory, sheltered in academia's fantasy world. now attempting to rule by diktat, with no real world experience to guide him, a certain recipe for disaster.

    • jose

      Barackus obamnitidis !

    • trickyblain

      Horowitz?

  • Remberto

    Today there is substantive and substantial data, plus undeniable evidence that the road to serfdom is paved with good intentions… and yet no matter how well intended they were originally, they always bring devastating results on individual's freedom. The main problem today is that policies are still embraced, designed, implemented and valued by their intentions, and never by their results!!! The great Hayek has once warned us of: "the danger of tyranny that inevitably results from government control of economic decision-making through central planning" But there isn't worse blind, than those who don't want to see the facts.

  • "gunner"

    i'm also reminded of the "technocrats" of the 1930s, portrayed by heinlein in "the roads must roll", "society cannot function without us, so we must rule". but a society such as ours depends on many skills, professions and trades, all vital and interdependent, no one group can survive alone, or rule all others.

    • Poppakap

      …or how about, "We are the ones we've been waiting for"? Conveniently followed by "…millions of shovel-ready jobs…"

  • Ar'nun

    "Bolshevik leaders (Trotsky in particular) generally had never done a day of honest labor in their lives in any factory or farm; their entire “careers” consisting of political activism."

    Sounds familiar!

  • Bartemais

    Excellent article! The only criticism I would have is the analogy to the Church is a bit simplistic. It ignores the impact of the reformation. You seem to be speaking more of the high church systems such as Catholicism. “The Bolsheviks believed that they could divine the answers to what the “workers” collectively needed in much the same way that Church clergy could conjure up the agenda of God, by reading the holy scriptures.” The Reformation was set in motion when the holy scriptures were made available to the common man. Thus the “protestant” movement was born. The first amendment reflects the protestant position of freedom of religion. Many Christians were persecuted in Europe because they could not find scriptural support for the Catholic system or the state church systems. Some fled to America so they could worship freely. However, you would be right to say that Bolshevism was more like the high church systems that imposed “orthodoxy” from the top down.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "Excellent article! The only criticism I would have is the analogy to the Church is a bit simplistic. It ignores the impact of the reformation. You seem to be speaking more of the high church systems such as Catholicism."

      Absolutely true. It's hard to tell where to start the history lessons, but if I had time I'd start with Abraham and modern archaeology (to disprove the Koran along the way), focus on Biblical archaeology and why the papal system fell apart when the printing press was used to defend Martin Luther. Atheists claim they gave science to the world and this is a big fat lie. The fact is the the reformation, inspired directly by the Bible, made the West what it is today in all that conservatives value. Any conservative, including atheists, who know the facts of history, should appreciate these facts.

      It seemed to all blow up with Darwin's works, when radical atheists had a tool to use against the establishment. The revisionism really started there as far as I can tell, and those revisionist dreamers are the true ancestors of today's totalitarian ideas. They envision the power of the popes but with their "benevolent tyranny" to lead to utopia. Marx soon became their modern pope in the sense of having someone guide their ideology. Other philosophers certainly contributed deadly ideas too, and the mess keeps getting worse since then.

      Free expression, and teaching logic and reason to all students. Those are the fundamental values that made America great (upon the root foundation of our constitution), and we've blown it due to Communist and communist infiltration that was tolerated because of dupes and traitors on the left.

  • geoplaten

    "Under their theology they could automatically divine from the dusty 80 year old writings of Marx what served the interests of the Russian “working class,” without having to ask any actual workers, and in most cases without having to engage in actual work."

    This sentence really says everything you need to know.

    "Bolshevik leaders (Trotsky in particular) generally had never done a day of honest labor in their lives in any factory or farm; their entire “careers” consisting of political activism."

    Sounds like most of the folks in DC…

  • geoplaten

    Virtually all "isms" are the same ( with the notable exceptions being true libertarianism and capitalism):

    They are simply excuses for one group (usually much smaller) to rule over everyone else.

    That's what made the original American experiment so special – it was one of the few attempts to allow people to live their own lives, not have others decide their fates for them. It's a shame – and to our eternal discredit – that we are so far adrift, likely never to recover.

  • pagegl

    Consider for a moment the hubris of the leftist elites in this country who think they have a mandate after the election. Time and time again, people have tried to force communism to work and none have been able to succeed, unless living well as the rest of society crumbles around them is their idea of success. And now we have Obama and his backers giving it yet another try. Insanity…

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "Consider for a moment the hubris of the leftist elites in this country who think they have a mandate after the election."

      They believe they've been chosen to sit in the offices at the commanding heights of society.

  • http://oldschooltwentysix.blogspot.com/ oldschooltwentysix

    Excellent essay. Thanks!

  • fanlad

    Very good article. You nailed it when you used the term " Marx Theology ". It seems socialism, and communism is a form of religion. It's god is man, and the utopian concept of a man perfected world. It then follows that under this utopian, socialist, and communist religion, that our rights will come from the government, not God.
    However, under our Constitutional Republic, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, " We hold these truths to be self-evident. That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these Rights, governments are justified among men; deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends; it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and institute new government laying its foundation on such principles," etc. etc. This principle is what makes America different from the rest of the world.
    America and her founding principles are currently under attack, by socialist, communist, and Islamist.
    America be aware, the new Bolsheviks are upon us.

  • Rita

    I found your review of the new biography of Trotsky quite interesting. Currently I am halfway through Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, and in Mao I see an apparent lack of idealism and more of a complete narcissistic personality than those who were the early marxist. History has taught the discerning that whatever the ideology about a political system, no one will be able to bring "equality" among humans, because there will always be those who seek to rule over others……whether they truly believe their system can accomplish it, or just crave the power because they believe they are more intelligent or more enlightened than others. I thought the comments by John B were well said. After finishing the book on Mao, I must read this new biography of Trotsky. Thanks for bringing my attention to it.

    Trosky

  • Ghostwriter

    It's a shame that during the campaign,we didn't hear from people who were originally from places like the former Soviet Union,Eastern Europe,China,Vietnam,Cuba,El Salvador,Cambodia,Laos,and other places like that. We even have them from Argentina. They've seen this movie before and it doesn't have a happy ending. It's a shame that they couldn't have told their stories before the election. That might have had some people think twice about voting for President Obama.

    • jose

      How can you explain complex economic/political realities to the masses (sheeples)?

      • objectivefactsmatter

        "How can you explain complex economic/political realities to the masses (sheeples)?"

        You start in kindergarten and make sure the communist teachers have no access to the students until they're at least 18 and smart enough to reject the lunacy directly.

  • jose

    Here come the layoffs. In my company today 20% were layed off. The change i expected. Many didn't see this coming.

  • Anamah

    This should be read in colleges and universities… Thank you Steven Plaut and Frontpagemag!

  • Horace

    Hunger and starvation have so often accompanied revolution that they are an intrinsic part of it. Except now when the revolutionaries can count on the USA or the World Bank or France or some other leftist fools to bail them out with billions -see the current situation in Egypt or Gaza/West Bank.

    • Andre Essen

      Why do you look to shores in far places while ignoring the reality of what is going on within the US borders. Are we really that naive as to believe that a consumer based economy with accompanying slow boil lock down is in any way different from what is effectively the result of centralized fiscal policy marketed as freedom of choice.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Reasonableness is necessary for peaceful human development, without it conflict is
    eminent, communists know this and that is why they kill off all opposition. The root of
    Communism is criminal dominion of the soul and psyche where individuals live in
    a fantasy of societal change which hides the fact they are common criminals without
    moral restraint, on one level they know they are false but have only time to dwell on
    their victims and spoils………………………….William

    • Andre Essen

      You describe the action of political 'Fairness' very well.

  • Lan Astaslem

    some call it deshawn – i call it a slimy, inbred Jew envying scumbag

  • UCSPanther

    Once again, you get reported and censored, lowlife.

    • Ghostwriter

      Boy,Deshawn must have said something REALLY bad to have gotten his comment deleted. I don't want to imagine what it was.

  • patron

    Marx, Engels and the Soviet leadership had great difficulty conceiving of anyone doing productive work unless they were making “things.“

    So this is where the leftist infatuation with building originates. Provide the bond issue for rural infrastructure and new financial structures for intellectual property? BAH! ME WANT ROCK. ME WANT … BIG ROCK!!!! It must be astounding to those who've never built anything.

    And I believe Comrade Trotsky got the ice axe, not the ice pick. It's a big difference from his point of view. It shouldn't come as no surpise from people who started as bank robbers.

    What's the difference between the New York Mafia Commission and the Russian Bolsheviks? Better suits from the tailors in Manhattan.

  • mlcblog

    I was familiar with much of this, the failed history and the complete foolish ignorance of these leaders of men. I remain aghast that otherwise sensible people would follow this insanity.

    I love that you have written this expose for those who have not been aware of the completely boring and predictable and scary nature of this line of thought, which obviously is now within our own government.

  • Sapteuq

    Keep right on agreeing with each other in your comfortable intellectual bubble.

    This article puts so many words in the mouths of Bolsheviks, Marxists and "leftists", makes so many brainless assumptions, that it would take an article longer than this again to expose them all. It seems like the author just read a scattering of texts, enough to draw a caricature that suited his purposes and positively reinforced all the prejudices evident in your comments.

    Service's biography of Trotsky has been condemned by a long line of academics for sloppy use of sources, falsification of evidence and a deliberate hatchet-job. I've read it and it's gracefully-written garbage.

    One example: Look at how the author compares industrial production in 1913 and 1921, blaming the difference on Marxism. Never mind the greatest war the world had ever seen which had brought down 2 governments and wrought economic, social and political chaos. Never mind the international blockade and the invasion by over 20 foreign armies. Never mind perhaps the most vicious civil war in history.

    It was these factors plus Russia's historic backwardness that doomed the revolution. But it suits ye all to sit around positively reinforcing each other's prejudices, so don't let me rain on yeer parade with my historical evidence

    • Poppakap

      Why is it that every single communist revolution was doomed because of some so-called backwardness in its people/culture/religion/etc? Why is it that sickle and hammer aficionados like yourself are willing to blame everything on earth for collectivism's failures but the system itself? Why should I care that "academics" have condemned Service's work on Trotsky when the same line up like lemmings anyone approaches the subject without either reverence or a strictly technical evaluation? It's the same old song and dance every time.

      For over 50 years we've seen and heard the same ridiculous criticisms of anyone who dares call collectivism (and it devotees/practitioners) what it is, catastrophic and evil, producing death and economic destruction on a scale never previously exhibited in all of humankind. The prejudices you imagine in the article were not invented by the author, they were created by Utopia-seeking zealots like Trotsky and are merely a rational response to the human suffering that occurred in their wake.

      • Sapteuq

        If you get the weekend off work, that's because of "collectivism". If you've ever claimed benefits or driven on a road or called the cops, you've got collectivism to thank. US victory in WWII? Collectivism. The great post-war boom? Collectivism. Forty years of stagnating wages…? Reagan.
        The horror of Stalinism is not something genuine socialists approach with reverence or clinical technicality. By the way there's nothing collectivist about a privileged, murderous bureaucracy and dictatorship that oppresses and exploits the people.
        But the economies there were rationally planned rather than subjected to capitalist chaos. Badly-planned, mind you, with colossal waste but planned nonetheless. So why if it was all undiluted evil and horror is it that in all these alleged hellholes life expectancy was raised by decades and literacy became universal?
        That's why I believe that the lazy and hysterical kind of "history" exhibited on this page is just a new genre of gothic horror that serves the purpose of making rational debate about the last century (and the one to come) impossible

    • reader

      "Never mind the international blockade and the invasion by over 20 foreign armies."

      Really? 20 foreign armies that you counted included exactly how many men? Hardly enough to man 20 artillery pieces, I'm pretty sure. For example, the infamous American expeditionary contingent in Arkhangelsk had barely over a thousand men – barely enough to secure the port to prevent the Germans from using it in the remaining months of the war. In fact, Wilson refused to send more and also refused to impose economic blockade of the bolshevik controlled territories. Here's what you need to do: read something worth reading. Howard Zinn is not.

      • Sapteuq

        The armies ranged in size from thousands to tens of thousands. By the way your expeditionary force massacred entire villages full of innocent people. Some never saw combat, some were very significant.
        Alongside this the Allies bankrolled the Whites – a collection of proto-fascists and wannabe military dictators – to the tune of a sum greater than the entire pre-war industrial output of Tsarist Russia.

        I've read lots of things from all perspectives and all political views. Some were worth reading, some were not. I haven't got around to Howard Zinn yet but he's on the list.

    • Maxie

      Somehow your " historic evidence" seems to have overlooked the fact that Marxist regimes killed some one-hundred million people during the twentieth century and the beat goes on in N. Korea. Get a copy of The Black Book of Communism and read it in you rcomfortable intellectual bubble. Another exhaustively referenced tome you're sure to 'enjoy' is "Stalin: The Red Tsar" by Montefiore.

      • Sapteuq

        However many people killed by regimes that called themselves Marxist, and I'm sure it's a horrific number, Capitalist regimes have killed far more. Between 1960 and 1990 more people were killed, tortured and imprisoned by their governments in South America than in Eastern Europe, almost all by US-backed regimes of the rich.
        The following is not an exhaustive catalogue but a taster's menu: The Germans in Angola, the British in South Africa, the Belgians in the Congo, the Americans in the Phillipines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Russians in Chechnya.
        Or how about China today, the sole powerhouse of world capitalism (built I might add on a planned economy) and murderer of the people of Tibet and East Turkestan, oppressor of their own people at home using all the big brother apparatus of surveillance and repression, much of it bought from US companies.
        How about the Congo today, in which corporate- and imperialist-backed governments and death squads have killed six million people since the late 90s.
        A minority of Capitalist countries allow formal democratic rights to one extent or another, but this is based on the super-exploitation of other peoples.
        It's Capitalism that's murderously utopian, that doesn't work, that needs oppression like we need oxygen. Ask the oil workers at Zhanaozen and the miners of Marikana

        • Andre Essen

          I defer to an earlier comment and suggest you look to the site set up by R.J. Rummel called power Kills. In which he describes a theory of state democide that rarely see it's statistics, model, numbers or social vectors better described. http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE1.HTM , he does tacitly evolve certain assertions but that on his part is political as opposed to reality, a condition of the current regimes power.

  • Mark D. Isaacs

    Thank you! These two sentences toward the end sum up the entire article: "The greatest strength of capitalism is that it actually works with real human beings, people who are lazy, base, narcissistic, self-indulgent, foul-smelling, mean-spirited, and unsophisticated. Capitalism does not require idyllic fictional humans in order for it to work." Keep up the good fight!

    • ANdre Essen

      Following any argument whether capitalistic or socialistic in human social formation it also follows that when the state dictates the term is is effectively a 'regime' which is captive to its own lies, it then proliferates to falsify everything to fit it's model. As quoted by Vaclev Havel -'It falsifies the past. It falsifies the present, and it falsifies the future. It falsifies statistics … It pretends to fear nothing. It pretends to pretend nothing.' Therefore your points on the reality of idealized consumer models are false. The first Welfare theorem proves it, a bonded individual in a capitalistic model or a brother in struggles against the proletariat all are expendable, it is simply a matter of how each soulless model achieves it's goals. Ultimately I believe R.J. Rummel in his State power model of Democide describes well the function and and examination of the purpose of each.

  • Mladen Andrijasevic

    Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate, page 86

    Getmanov's life had been relatively uneventful. He had not taken part in the Civil War. He had not been hunted by the police and had never been exiled to Siberia at the decree of a Tsarist court. At conferences and congresses he usually read his reports from a written text. Even though he had not written them himself, he read these reports well, expressively and without hesitation. Admittedly, they were by no means difficult to read – they were printed in large type, double-spaced, and with the name of Stalin always in red.

    • Mladen Andrijasevic

      for those who read Russian:

      Жизнь Дементия Трифоновича была довольно бедна внешними событиями. Он
      не участвовал в гражданской войне. Его не преследовали жандармы, и царский
      суд его никогда не высылал в Сибирь. Доклады на конференциях и съездах он
      обычно читал по рукописи. Читал он хорошо, – без запинок, с выражением,
      хотя писал доклады не сам. Правда, читать их было легко, их печатали
      крупным шрифтом, через два интервала, и имя Сталина выделено на них было
      особым красным шрифтом.

  • Andre Essen

    Engels. Mark and Trotsky are basically cut from the same fabric, their human condition rendered in an ideology is like all such notions, dystopian as well as short sighted. Moreover they laid the foundation for work that is not so much or even arguable a visionary concept of socialized living. Since most were in essence attorneys or legal process workers. This foundational work was taken up and further made public through Gramsci, yet Gramsci's work is not much discussed beyond the borders of the Italian peninsula it is remarkably consistent with current federalism and more importantly for those that perceive it a centralized global version of his doctrine. His method builds well on the foundation of his forebears and more importantly much of his work is sequestered and due to the many iterations of his prolific writing much was considered semi unintelligible due to the number of methodologies employed, but in essence the new strategy of the Long March through culture. Is truly very much ever present and enmeshed with commerce and wholly compatible with it and it's goals.

  • tyroneb

    A perfect example f the pig "Squealer" in Animal Farm is a guy who writes for 'Truth Out' . His name is William Rivers Pitt, a classic example. He worked for a while as Dennis Kincinich's press secretary, but all the time was feeding info to the Clintons.
    BTW, Monica Lewinsky has started a new non-profit foundation to help chubby girls get wealthy: It's called 'Save The Swallows'

  • 1goodbob

    Immigrants that came here from Communist countries tried to voice warnings to the citizens of this country. The main stream media have ignored these people and even tried to silence them. These young college grads that can't get a job mainly because of taking easy courses should do this. Go live for 6 months in a place like Cuba, talk to the people and see what they think. Even Pres. Putin congratulated Obama for following the Communist Manifesto, without calling it what it was.

    • Andre Essen

      Not only are and were they voicing their opinions but they are repatriating in greater numbers. The statistical radar seems to omit people by their tan range. The more successful tend to take residence elsewhere to avoid onerous taxation or to join the many capable of traversing the citizenship minefield of usury. It is simply recycling the ancient curse of humanity, here we go again ! The problem is this time the state is and can be more effectively lethal and in larger numbers.

  • 1goodbob

    If some of you commentors here think the basis premise is maybe not accurate. the basis phylosiphy, and what they intend to do to people, and the murder and suffering they put on people, yo Bubble Professors in your break rooms talk about your superior culture that you have preached about, Has never worked in any Generation where it has been attempted.

  • Lynn A. Bloxham

    Excellent article. The author,Mr. Plaut, obviously has a good grasp of history and economics.
    The comments were also exceptional; intelligent and informative. They were the kind of ideas expressed so well, that make me wish I had permission to quote when I write or am interviewed on radio. Thank you.

    • charles

      One point I'd like to make. I never believed the Bolsheviks had a clue about Marx' economic theories. I found Marx' analysis of the capitalist economy of the 19th Century thorough and convincing. It is similar to a body of mathematics in its structure and rigour, like the primitive terms in geometry that are used to build into axioms and theorems that describe three dimensional, space Marx' does something similar for social economic space. By association with the Bolsheviks and others there is an undeserved prejudice against his writings. I bet none of them had understood or even read the three volumes of Capital.

      • Andre Essen

        That would be a statement of either superiority or Hubris. Whenever attorneys and desk clerics get together to produce economic programs, the inevitable always happens. They produce spreadsheets and quota's, sound familiar ? (Lenin) In its pathway to the financial nirvana tend to be conflicting ideologies or doctrines also known as notional values in populations and their respective thinking.. I really suggest you determine whether the First Corporate Welfare Theorem is actually any radical movement away from the Bolshevist doctrine. The first person perspective in meeting up with that type of advocacy is not dissimilar to what we see unfold before us today. Mindless automata so to speak, regardless I suggest a particular document. that introduces more advanced people controlling economics as a primer if you have not seen it already
        http://www.minneapolisfed.org/publications_papers

        This is one of many.