Vygotskian Writings Теоретическая психология Выготскианские тексты

The paradoxes of the Bolshevik-type psycho-social structure in economy

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The paradoxes of the Bolshevik-type psycho-social structure in economy

László Garai
Institute for Psychology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Budapest, Hungary

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 19th century 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.

Research antecedents

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.

Three classes

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.

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