Detachable Stalin

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This looks like it will be exciting: An article in The Socialist Worker, decrying Soviet communism! Unfortunately, it's the same regurgitated left nonsense about the CCCP never trying out real socialism.

Today, we don't judge the governments of Tony Blair and George Bush by the words they spout about democracy, but by their actions. Similarly, Stalinism had nothing to do with the socialism envisioned by the socialist thinkers Karl Marx and Frederick Engels.

It's almost worth continuing the article to soak up all of the logical backflips and howlers. Like:

All property was nationalised. There was no class of private capitalists. But it was capitalism nonetheless.

Or:

Stalinism today is certainly much less influential than in the decades of the Cold War.

If you're going break from Soviet communism, why dress it up like this? I prefer my communist agit-prop full-throated and dumb as hell.

And, of course, I prefer Peter Bagge's 2004 toon "Principal Stalin" to all of this.

(Via Ezra Klein.)

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  1. People sometimes tell me I should get it permanently attached,
    but I don’t know.
    Even though sometimes it’s a pain in the ass,
    I like having a detachable Stalin.

  2. All property was nationalised. There was no class of private capitalists. But it was capitalism nonetheless.

    I think they’re getting some fundamental definitions wrong, but if you replace ‘capitalism’ with ‘propertyism’, it makes a kind of sense. Essentially, if the means of production are owned by the state, and there’s a sufficient disconnect between the state and the workers, then the means of production are not owned by the workers. Which of course I see as the fatal flaw in Marxism, since it is largely impossible to have true universal worker-ownership.

    About the only theoretical society I’ve ever heard of that would get around that is the radically propertyless society in Ursula K. Leguin’s The Dispossessed who had purged the idea of ownership so thoroughly from society that you’d say “the hand hurts,” instead of “my hand hurts.”

  3. So David are you saying that when Marx envisioned Communism that the Stalin regime was really what he had in mind?

  4. No, Dan, I think what we are saying is that when Marx envisioned Communism, his understanding of human nature was so fundamentally flawed that he completely missed the fact that any attempt to create the all-powerful total state that he saw as the necessary interim step would inevitably lead to a Stalin.

    or a Mao.

    or a Pol Pot.

  5. Communism is so fifteen years ago.
    When can we get back to the Reason writers pontifficating about the GOP never trying real capitalism?

    RC, “the all-powerful total state that he saw as the necessary interim step” Marx never wrote that. He wrote that, is some places, the revolutionaries may have to take control of parts of the existing state (not create a new state, not expand the powers of the existing state) before dismantling it. In most cases, the state was to be dismantled immediately.

    As usual, you’ve confused Marxism with Leninism. And proved the Daily Worker’s point in the process.

  6. Comrat Joe,

    Marxism, Leninism…I get confused between the two religions: Which is the one advocates cult-of-personality dictatorships, wholesale genocide, mass concentration camps and extermination of the intellectual class, and which is the one that believes that the capital-S State magically withers away, leaving a 72-virgin^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H (strike that) worker’s paradise?

    Thx. in advance for the clarification!

  7. Or, Marx missed the fact that the people most attracted to implementing his philosophy in reality (at least rhetorically) were absolutely insane and thought that it could work in non-industrialized states. You can’t choose your audience. A lot of 19th century philosophers had some pretty odious readers; just look at Nietzsche and Darwin.

  8. NotJoe, the magical realist one=Marxism.

    The horror movie version=Leninism. That’s the one that actually got made.

  9. i think the flaw is that property isnt the problem, power is the problem. often they overlap. communism doesnt neutralize power. our american system tries admirably though.

  10. Marxist is the realist one??

    then how come everytime people try to make the realist one they end up with the horror movie version?

  11. joshua,

    Look up “magical realism” in Wikipedia, please.

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