Paul Mattick

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Paul Mattick Sr. (March 13, 1904 – February 7, 1981) was a Marxist political writer and social revolutionary, whose thought can be placed within the council communist and left communist traditions.


  • And so, from the standpoint of Marxism, the Russian experiments in planned economy are not to be rated as socialistic. The Russian practice is not directed according to communist principles, but follows the laws of capitalist accumulation. We have here, even though in modified form, a surplus-value production under the ideological camouflage of ‘socialist construction’. The wage relation is identical with that of capitalist production, forming also in Russia the basis for the existence of a growing bureaucracy with mounting privileges; a bureaucracy which, by the side of the private capitalist elements which are still present, is strictly to be apprised as a new class appropriating to itself surplus labor and surplus value. From the Russian experience no positive conclusions can be drawn which have a relation to communist production and distribution. It still offers only examples of the way in which communism cannot be developed.
  • While the capitalist mode of production grew up historically on the basis of individual ownership of the means of production, the Russian revolution has shown that under certain conditions the capitalist mode of production can continue to exist even though the individual proprietors are eliminated and replaced by a collective exploiting apparatus where factories are not owned by capitalist ‘X’ or ‘Y’ but are ‘controlled’ (i. e. owned) by the State (i. e. the controlling classes).
  • The solution, according to Trotsky, lies in the replacement of the present parasitical bureaucracy by a non-parasitical apparatus. Nothing else in his opinion needs to be changed as the Soviet economic system is fully qualified to proceed toward socialism in combination with the world-revolutionary trend. This new bureaucracy, essential in Trotsky’s transitional stage, will, according to Trotsky, introduce a greater equality of income. But Trotsky must remember that the present bureaucracy started out with the same idea, originally limiting salaries to Communists, etc. It was the circumstances enveloping the economy which not only enabled but obliged the present bureaucracy to adopt a program of ever increasing economic inequality in its favor.
  • Russian state capitalism has become the example for other nations as indicated in the rise of fascism and the growth of governmental control in all countries. However, this trend is no sign of ‘progress,’ as many people believe. It does not correspond to a ‘higher stage’ of capitalism, but indicates the decline of world capitalism. The trend toward bolshevization and fascization is only the political expression of the stagnation and decline of the capitalist system; it is barbarism.
  • Certainly, the Russian state-capitalism, in which class relations are continued, cannot employ the Marxian science, for this science consists of nothing but the critique of those selfsame capitalistic conditions, which characterize Russia and every other capitalistic country. For the purpose of justifying the exploitation of the workers, the inequalities of income, and the accumulation of capital that exists there, the Marxian economic theories are certainly useless.
  • In Russia, as elsewhere, the means of production are not controlled by the workers but are the monopoly of a special group in society. In the relations of the workers to the means of production, no difference exists between a private property society and a state-capitalist system. The position of the Russian bureaucracy to its workers is exactly the same as that of the individual entrepreneur to his. The first need of that bureaucracy is to safeguard its own position in order to develop industry and agriculture. Whatever else this bureaucracy may do, it has first of all to ‘plan’ its own security, and then to proceed to ‘plan’ life for the rest of the population. This is recognized not only by the present and supposedly “degenerated” Russian bureaucracy, but was clear also to the ‘founders’ of the Russian state-capitalist system.
  • Thus, to mention just a few facts, not the social democracy but Hitler fulfilled the long desire of the socialists, the Anschluss of Austria; not social democracy but fascism established the wished — for state control of industry and banking; not social democracy but Hitler declared the first of May a legal holiday. A careful analysis of what the socialists actually wanted to do and never did, compared with actual policies since 1933, will reveal to any objective observer that Hitler realised no more than the programme of social democracy, but without the socialists.
  • Like Hitler, the social democracy and Kautsky were opposed to both bolshevism and communism. Even a complete state-capitalist system as the Russian was rejected by both in favour of mere state control. And what is necessary in order to realise such a programme was not dared by the socialists but undertaken by the fascists. The anti-fascism of Kautsky illustrated no more than the fact that just as he once could not imagine that Marxist theory could be supplemented by a Marxist practice, he later could not see that a capitalist reform policy demanded a capitalist reform practice, which turned out to be the fascist practice… The life of Kautsky can, in all truth and without malicious intent, be summed up in the words: From Marx to Hitler.
  • Rather, the war, and even the period preceding the war, will be marked by a general and complete military dictatorship in fascist and anti-fascist countries alike. The war will wipe out the last distinction between the democratic and the anti-democratic nations. And workers will serve Hitler as they served the Kaiser; they will serve Roosevelt as they served Wilson; they will die for Stalin as they died for the Tsar.
  • ‘People love today to speak disdainfully about the liberalistic economy,’ [Kautsky] wrote in his last work; ‘however, the theories founded by Quesnay, Adam Smith and Ricardo are not at all obsolete. In their essentials Marxhad accepted their theories and developed them further, and he has never denied that the liberal freedom of commodity production constituted the best basis for its development.’
  • In order that some may lead, others must be powerless. To be the vanguard of the workers, the elite has to usurp all social key positions. Like the bourgeoisie of old, the new leaders had to seize and control all means of production and destruction. To hold their control and keep it effective, the leaders must constantly strengthen themselves by bureaucratic expansion, and continually divide the ruled. Only masters can be leaders. Trotsky was such a master.
  • Today, great men are no longer necessary. Modern propaganda instruments can transform any fraud into a hero, any mediocre personality into an all-comprehending genius. Propaganda actually transforms through its collective efforts any average, if not stupid, leader, like Hitler and Stalin, into a great man. The leaders become symbols of an organized, collective, and really intelligent will to maintain given social institutions. Outside of Russia, Trotsky was soon reduced to the master of a small sect of professional revolutionists and their providers. He was ‘the Old Man,’ the indisputable authority of an artificial growth upon the political scene, destined to end in absurdity.
  • Coming to power with the help of a russified Marxian ideology, Trotsky, after he lost power, had no choice but to maintain the revolutionary ideology in its original form against the degeneration of Marxism indulged in by the Stalinists.
  • Leadership remained after Lenin’s death; there was not yet the Leader. Though Trotsky was forced into exile, the unripeness of the authoritarian form of government spared his life for fifteen years. Soon both old and new oppositions to Stalin’s rule could easily be destroyed. Hitler’s overwhelming success in the “night of the long knives,” when he killed off with one bold stroke the whole of the effective opposition against him, showed Stalin the way to handle his own problems… This was done not in the Nibelungen manner in which the German fascists got rid of Roehm, Strasser and their following, but in the hidden, scheming, cynical manner of the Moscow Trials, to exploit even the death of the potential oppositionists for the greater glory of the all-embracing and beloved leader, Stalin. The applause of those taking the offices emptied by the murdered was assured. To make the broad masses happily accept the miserable end of the ‘old Bolsheviks’ was merely a job for the minister of propaganda. Thus the whole of Russia, not only the leading bureaucratic group, finished off the ‘traitors to the fatherland of the workers.’
  • Nevertheless, despite the fact that Stalin murdered Trotsky, despite the displacement of all forms of bolshevism by fascism, a final evaluation of Trotsky’s historical role will have to place him in line with Lenin, Mussolini, Stalin and Hitler as one of the great leaders of a world-wide movement attempting, knowingly and unknowingly, to prolong the capitalist exploitation system with methods first devised by bolshevism, then completed by German fascism, and finally glorified in the general butchery which we are now experiencing.
  • Long before the rise of fascism, competitive capitalism was replaced in each capitalist nation by monopoly capitalism. The markets were controlled by trusts and cartels. The development from laissez faire to monopoly capitalism led to the creation of the world market, the international division of labor, the concentration of capital, and the increase of the productivity of labor. They are all interdependent; one is unthinkable without the others.
  • There is, however, an apparent contradiction here; for if fascism must be regarded as the direct outcome of the previous capitalist development it should appear first in the oldest and most advanced nations. But this is not the case. Russia, in which we find the most complete totalitarian system, was one of the most backward nations, as was Italy which experienced the first ‘fascist revolution.’
  • So far as this fundamental capitalistic relationship is concerned nothing has changed in the totalitarian systems. What has been altered is the relationship between government and individual capitalists. In the democracies, individual ownership predominates over governmental control; in the fascist states, governmental control over individual ownership. In Russia, alone, individual ownership has been done away with altogether and the state has complete control of the productive apparatus and natural resources. The trends of development indicate that the democracies travel in the direction of fascism and the fascist nations in the direction of the Russian system.
  • It is now quite clear that only those in the traditional labour movement who opposed its undemocratic organisations and their tactics can properly be called socialists. The labour leaders of yesterday and today did not and do not represent a workers' movement but only a capitalistic movement of workers.
  • To be sure Rühle had no doubt that totalitarianism was worse for the workers than bourgeois democracy. He had fought against Russian totalitarianism since its inception. He was fighting German fascism, but he could not fight in the name of bourgeois democracy because he knew that the peculiar developmental laws of capitalist production would change bourgeois democracy sooner or later into fascism and state-capitalism.
  • By fighting as true social-democrats for predominance in the socialist world movement, by identifying the narrow nationalistic interests of state-capitalistic Russia with the interests of the world proletariat, and by attempting to maintain at all cost the power position they had won in 1917, they were merely preparing their own downfall, which was dramatised in numerous factional struggles, reached its climax in the Moscow trials, and ended in the Stalinist Russia of today – one imperialist nation among others.
  • The meaning of Bolshevism was completely revealed only with the emergence of fascism. To fight the latter, it was necessary, in Otto Rühle’s words, to recognise that ‘the struggle against fascism begins with the struggle against Bolshevism.’
  • Not long before his death, Rühle, in summing up his findings with regard to Bolshevism, did not hesitate to place Russia first among the totalitarian stares. ‘It has served as the model for other capitalistic dictatorships. Ideological divergences do not really differentiate socioeconomic systems. The abolition of private property in the means of production (combined with) the control of workers over the products of their labour and the end of the wages system.’
  • To make clear the fascist character of the Russian system, Rühle turned once more to Lenin’s Left Wing Communism – An Infantile Disorder, for ‘of all programmatic declarations of Bolshevism it was the most revealing of its real character.’ When in 1933 Hitler suppressed all socialist literature in Germany, Rühle related, Lenin’s pamphlet was allowed publication and distribution. In this work Lenin insists that the party must be a sort of war academy of professional revolutionists. Its chief requirements were unconditional leader authority, rigid centralism, iron discipline, conformity, militancy, and the sacrifice of personality for party interests - And Lenin actually developed an elite of intellectuals, a centre which, when thrown into the revolution, was to capture leadership and assume power.
  • There is no longer any need to point to the many ‘misdeeds’ of Bolshevism in Germany and in the world at large. In theory and in practice the Stalinist regime declares itself a capitalistic, imperialistic power, opposing not only the proletarian revolution, but even the fascist reforms of capitalism. And it actually does favour the maintenance of bourgeois democracy in order to utilise more fully its own fascistic structure. Just as Germany was very little interested in spreading fascism over her borders and the borders of her allies since she had no intention of strengthening her imperialistic competitors, so Russia concerns herself with safeguarding democracy everywhere save within her own territory. Her friendship with bourgeois-democracy is a true friendship; fascism is no article for export, for it ceases to be an advantage as soon as it is generalised. Despite the Stalin-Hitler pact, there are no greater ‘anti-fascists’ than the Bolsheviks on behalf of their own native fascism. Only so far as their imperialistic expansion, if any, will reach, will they be guilty of consciously supporting the general fascistic trend.

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