The paradoxes of the Bolshevik-type psycho-social structure in economy
László Garai Institute for Psychology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Abstract: The paper deals with the social psychology of competition versus monopoly as referred to the 20th century second modernization.
This latter’s main difference is made with the 19thcentury first modernization in manufacturing not only material but also human factors of the actual socio-economic system’s functioning. It is stated that unlike the material production depending only on technical attributes of both producing and produced factors, the modern human production is determined also by the factors’social relations.
Those of competition versus monopoly are considered as psycho-social conditions for an optimal functionning of a market vs planned economic system. Totalitarian states are pictured as factories for the mass-production of a perfect competition with the complete eradication (by the fascist or national socialist type totalitarian states) of monopolistic factors versus those for the mass-production of a perfect monopoly with the complete eradication (by the Bolshevik type totalitarian states) of competitive factors in the society.
This paper is going to deal with the society Schumpeter meant when in a writing of the post-World War I period (1922) he stated that capitalism was transforming so obviously into something else that he considered not the fact itself, merely its interpretation, to be a point of contention: whether what capitalism transformed into after the war and the subsequent revolutions and counter-revolutions was socialism or not Schumpeter considered only a matter of taste and terminology (pp. 41-43).
To eschew this “matter of taste and terminology”, when I started studying this radically transformed system whether of market, planned or mixed character I labelled it post-capitalism. In my earlier investigations (Garai, 1987, 1988, 1991a) I was led to the conclusion that the essence of this transformation is the transition from the first, 19th century phase of the modernization to the 20th century second modernization.
I understand by modernization the tendency according to which the society intervenes artificially into natural processes in order to provide itself with conditions of its own functioning. Those earlier studies revealed that during the first modernization period the socio-economic system dealt with its material and human conditions differently: by producing the material factors it depended on, on one hand, and by making itself independent of the human phenomena which had not been produced by it. Now, from the turn of the century onwards running the socio-economic system was no longer independent of the faculties and needs acting in the population and, consequently, it faced the necessity of manufacturing also its own human conditions.
When one starts to examine how during the second modernization this necessity has been dealt with, the first statement he can make is about a technology the state in various countries introduced practically simultaneously in the period starting with World War I. The technology in question tried to apply to handling people the same logic of a large scale mass production in processing industry the economic organizations of the previous century successfully used in handling things.
The logic of processing industry ranges things into three classes: the class of useful things complying with the aims of man is opposed to the class of harmful things countering man’s aims; between them is the class of raw materials, whose originally neutral attributes can be turned useful upon a useful effect and harmful upon a harmful one. Processing industry exposes raw materials to useful effects and, at the same time, in order to protect these materials against harmful effects it tries to narrow the spectrum of these latters’ causes by the most effective procedure, i.e. by eradicating harmful things themselves.
The same way, the state whose ambition was boosted in World War I ranges persons into three classes: the class of those who make themselves useful as means for the state’s most exalted ends; those who subject themselves as malleable raw materials to the educational ambitions of the former class; finally, the class of harmful people who traverse the above ends of the state. As this latter class, misusing the malleability of the human raw material, would win over a part of it to their side, therefore the most effective procedure against them is considered to be their extermination.
This practice and the relevant ideology have perfected itself in the totalitarian state. But the date of its birth is not 1933, when the national socialists assumed power in Germany; or 1922, when in Italy the fascists did so; nor is it 1917 when the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia. The totalitarian state was born in 1914 when, in various states simultaneously, the still traditional power fulfilled a no longer traditional task: from the raw material represented by civil persons who had been set to “live and let live” the mobilization order produced on a large scale this useful product represented by soldiers. Further on, the totalitarian states inherited this ready-made tool to be used for their goals, and, in addition, also inherited the “know how” to operate with almost unlimited efficiency large scale works in this peculiar processing industry in which the tools, raw materials and pestiferous factors are all human beings.
At first glance one would conclude that the Bolshevik-type society was the survivor of this totalitarian state formation: it made use of the products and the “know how” produced by the two-act World War for forty years after them, and now, with a delay of a whole epoch, it follows its ideological antagonist to the sink of history.
When, however, we consistently apply the viewpoint of economic psychology instead of an ideological approach, we shall discover yet another implication.