The bureaucratic state governed by an illegal movement
Soviet-type societies and Bolshevik-type parties
Abstract: A psychosocial study on structure and functioning of Bolshevik-type parties and Soviet-type societies. These societies (identifying themselves most frequently as those of “really existing socialism”) evolve their world of appearances, contrary to what has been discovered by Marx for the one in a capitalist society, emerged in relation not to matter (reification) but to persons. Traditional Marxian criticism of such an ideology claims persons in Soviet-type societies to be but personifications of positions in a bureaucratic structure. The paper argues that the organizing principle of these societies is not bureaucracy but charisma originated from 20th century’s radical ant bureaucratic (illegitimate) mass movements providing not only a charismatic leader but the whole headquarter and even the Party as an avantgarde with a social power that is set not to the position the person occupies but to persons directly, independently from positions occupied by each of them respectively. The paper analyzes the paradoxical structure of that collective charisma: to this social power that is independent from nomination in Soviet-type societies persons get nominated. Democratic centralism is described as the principle of such a paradoxical organization where the “Centrum” gets its social power by being put in its charisma by a “Demos” being put in its one by that social power.
Appearance and criticism
Marx developed a method for the critique of ideologies to reduce the appearances of a society to its substantial relations. The starting point of his method was his recognition that the substance of society’s network of connections is in its relations. Accordingly, when an ideological consciousness attributes the cause of some social effect to the properties of some matter, the task is to find the relations underlying this property.
Such a virtual property is the price of a commodity the rise and drop of which seems to be able to exert disastrous effects on society. In Marx’s view, however, price is not such a property of a commodity that could be traced back to the inside of the thing by some testing method; the effect is produced by the relations that exist among the producers of goods in a community of commodity production.
In the rare historic moments when in a Soviet-type societythe Marxist-Leninist ideological leadership happened to tolerate social science research based on Marx’ methodology, hence including a radical critique of ideology and society, attempts were made to carry out investigations looking behind the appearances in these societies connected to the properties of things. All these attempts produced as a result was establishing facts of the capitalist social relations’ survival in the Soviet-type society, together with the appearance of their material forms. E. g. it appears to be a property of productive equipment both before and after the nationalizations that it is capable of producing more value than was used to produce it. By Marx’ method, however, it could be shown that the socially effective relation in this performance both before and after the nationalizations is the same, namely: the producers produced with tools that were not disposed of by them but by others.
This procedure did not lead to specific discoveries about “really existing socialism”68, except perhaps that no specific discoveries are either possible or necessary since the “really existing socialism” is: capitalism.
We must note, however, that in regard to their ideological appearances, capitalism and socialism do differ from each other. The world of appearances in a capitalist society emerged in relation to matter, while that of a Soviet-type society to persons.
Thus, Nedd Ludd’s followers were convinced that the source of all evil was the machine that brought ruin to masses of people and had to be destroyed so that man might survive. On the other hand, at the outset of the 20th century, all the European and North American progressives advocated fully convinced that the source of all good was the machine that liberates man from the slavery of work.
Lenin’s followers, in turn, professed with just as much conviction that the source of all good was: Stalin, and then later, within socialism the source of all evil was: Stalin.
It seems then that a theory which provides a critique of the ideological appearances of a Soviet-type society and which aims at an understanding of the true deep structure of that society must be able to orient itself in the world of appearances related to the properties of persons and not matter.
The personality cult genuinely and the socialism?
After the Twentieth Congress, when the practice of deriving all the features of socialism from the features of Stalin’s person was first criticized, this feature of socialism was also derived from the personal features of Stalin. The cult of a person, it was claimed, was utterly strange to the substance of socialism since socialism emerged independently of the good or bad intentions of persons, responding instead to the necessity of matter.
It is noteworthy that today, when the commonplace of blaming all the gradually exposed shortcomings of an entire era on Stalin’s personal characteristics is criticized, the argument goes on to warn that we shouldn’t forget about Stalin’s environment either, i.e. about other persons’ (like Beria, Molotov, Voroshilov)... personal characteristics.
The domination of appearances related to personal properties did not apply to the cult of Stalin alone, even in his time. How seriously that period took Stalin’s motto “It all depends on the cadres” is proved by the enormous effort made to produce on a mass scale suitable (for Stalin) cadres.
And this work which was aimed at transforming human nature, was not in the least confined to the cadres upon whom things did indeed depend at one time or other. This society-wide effort set as its target the most private property of each and every person: his conviction. This is what is borne out by the unprecedented control exercised in centralized societies over all uttered or written words, since such societies attribute to the word the omnipotent power of influencing human will. This point is crucial because socialism throughout its history has derived consequences from intentions. It works either by concluding from good intentions to good consequences or by attributing bad intentions to bad consequences.
One outcome of this attitude is the certainty that if a revolution overthrows the status quo in the name of socialism, the result of this historic deed will be the socialism. Even if the revolution that breaks out in one country is not followed by a Marxian global revolution, then what in this country emerged as a result of socialist intentions will be socialism.
On the other hand, bad intentions are blamed for the tarrying of global revolution: the cause of revolution would be betrayed, e.g., by social democratic leaders with bad intentions. Later the circle of those with hostile, treacherous intentions keeps widening: while the central bureaucracy not only declares that a future consequence (whatever it may be) shall be socialism, but also predefines by a planning what exactly shall be realized, then it attributes all the deficiencies of realization to the consequences of hostile, saboteuring intentions. When agriculture declines because the resources of its development are channelled into forced industrialization, this consequence of the socialist intention is itself regarded as socialist; when the same decline results from an invasion of Colorado beetles, then the non-socialist intention underlying this obviously non-socialist consequence is searched out and found in the Titoist imperialists who must have planted the pestiferous insects. A stylistic parody of this turn of mind is Sartre’s comment that the construction of the Budapest subway system was interrupted by the counterrevolutionary soil of the Hungarian capital (in the mid-fifties it turned out that the technology used for constructing the Moscow Underground begun could not be used in Budapest in a soil rich in hot springs).