Vygotskian Writings Теоретическая психология Выготскианские тексты

Bolshevik-type self-discipline and the abstraction of perfect monopoly

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Bolshevik-type self-discipline and the abstraction of perfect monopoly

Just as the optimum functioning of a market economy requires the relation of perfect competition of economic actors, the running of a planned economy requires the perfect monopoly of the planning authorities, this paper stated earlier (p. 4).

Without the above-analyzed unparalleled self-discipline through which a Bolshevik-type structure makes its victims accomplices77 the exter­nal dis­cip­linary practice would never have been able to bring society closer to the abstraction of perfect monopoly even if it had used more cruel means than ever in former centuries before. In every other system, in order to sup­­press the outer circles, the innermost circle monopolizing power must re­sort to apparatuses of violence in intermediate circles, which, having ex­pe­rienced their efficiency in mediating the central will, may at any mo­ment pit their own will against the former, in competition for social influence.

Self-discipline that could be forged in the Bolshevik workshop of per­fect monopoly had a serious condition. In order that an outer circle should re­sign from power in a disciplined manner to the benefit of an innermore cir­cle, it is required that when it manifests its belonging to the position of uni­ty and not to that of division, this position should indeed be that of po­wer. What makes this possible is a construction in which not only the inner circles within the party reproduce the structural pattern of the Bolshevik-type party as was said above, but the structure continues towards the periphery as well: the outermost circle must have the possibility to surround itself with formations outside it that must be divided as related to it, and over which it can exercise power as the carrier of unity. That is how the Soviet-Russian state, which contained the Bolshevik party and the outer circle of the non-party-society, surrounded itself with an outermore circle of the other federated republics that could only get in touch with each other by way of Russia, through the state and party organs residing in the capital (“the everlasting alliance of independent republics rallied for ever by the great Russia”, as has been sung in the Soviet national anthem).

Then the Soviet Union found the chance to surround itself with the state formations of “people’s democracies”, compared to whose division the Soviet Union as a whole represented the unity.

And then followed another attempt, which – had it succeeded – would ha­ve shown the entire “socialist camp” as the carrier of the form of uni­ty, sur­roun­ded by the colonies liberated in the 1950-1960s, by, in gene­ral, the countries of the third world, which would have been the outer­most cir­cle at the time, constituting new substance for the form of divi­sion. The ex­tension of the outer circle around the “socialist camp” was of pa­ramount im­portance for the structure, because this would have ensured that the “camp” should feature as the subject of power in its entirety. This would ha­ve reinforced its readiness to stay in the position of unity by delegating po­wer with the Matrioshka method, which would have pro­du­ced a social struc­ture approximating the abstraction of perfect monopoly, as we saw above.

It is a common practice that military expenditures are regarded eco­no­mic only inasmuch as they imply that they drain resources78 from areas whe­re their utilization would have been productive, whereas their military use, the analysts point out, is unproductive. The importance of such analyses for social criticism cannot be stressed enough. However, they are inaccurate in their analytic description of connections. They ignore the implication by which those expenses are indeed productive. Whether the Bolshevik party lea­der­ship uses them to give economic or military aid to certain components of the outer circle, or it uses them to arm the factors of the inner circles, or again, it actually deploys these means at a certain point of the outer circle which (e.g., Afghanistan) is reluctant to add to the unity of an innermore cir­cle by accepting the division of its outer circle – these expenditures cons­ti­tute the production costs of the analyzed structure at each point of its extension.

That is, the costs of production of the human resources shaped also in its relations.


One of the ultimate causes of its collapse was clearly economic: undoubtedly this structure produced human resources, but at such high costs that Adam Smith’s statement claiming that the human resource “can be regarded from the same viewpoint as a machine (...) which facilitates and shortens work and which, through causing some cost, recovers this cost with profit,” turned out to be no longer valid here.

Another sharp-featured cause of the collapse was psycho-economic in that sense, referred to the paradox of relations, which has been demonstrated by the present paper.

The coexistence of monopoly and competition is itself a competition; it was argued above (p. 5). And it was also stated that the optimum condition for a market economy is perfect competition, while for a planned economy it is perfect monopoly.

A competition is perfect when none of the participants has predominance over the rest since this predominance might ensure its monopoly. As is known, this condition of the equality of involved factors has never existed in its pure form in the capitalist market, so the functioning of the market was ensured by a competition that came close to the perfect state for a shorter or longer time at most.

After these precedents came the Bolshevik-type system, which went on building out its above-outlined system with increasing success. Increasing suc­cess in this system did not mean approximating more and more closely the abs­traction of perfect monopoly, but more and more extending the system that was characterized, from the very beginning, by perfect monopoly in its ideal purity.

While this extension remained within a system (that of the Bol­shevik Party, then of Soviet-Russia, of the Soviet Union, of the “socialist camp”) that could isolate itself, it made irresistible progress while outside the more and more hermetically closed borders of this system an imperfect competition kept the market running somehow or other.

When the extension reached the point at which the Bolshevik-type sys­tem built as Matrioshka dolls tried to construct its outermost circle from the products of the decomposition of colonies, this circle of the system could no lon­ger be isolated from the other system to which these count­ries used to be­long formerly. This triggered off a competition between the two sys­tems, which however did not fit in with earlier forms of the cold war: that si­de that had just released these areas seized earlier by force of arms, could not arou­se suspicion by being ready to recapture them by force, and nei­ther could the other side suggest that it was willing to occupy them by force of arms.

Thus the competition between the systems became an economic ri­val­ry. Since at that time the two systems represented equal weight, their ri­valry ac­tually proved to be the first perfect competition in the history of the market.

Thus, determined to further bolster the structure of perfect monopoly, the Bolshevik-type system ensured perfect competition for capitalism, the condition that could manifest all the advantages of a market over a planned economy, which proved to be increasingly mis­functional because of the constraint on the perfectness of monopoly.

That sealed the fate of the Bolshevik-type system.


As a consequence, one can more and more often read that today the fate of the world is no longer decided by the rivalry of two superpowers but by the exclusive goodwill of a single superpower.

If it is really so, that will be the end of that competition and the start of a new monopoly.

And, hence, the start of a new paradox, too.


Bródy, A., 1990: Valóság, 33:6. 30-37 (in Hungarian)

Garai, L., 1986: Social Identity: Cognitive Dissonance or Paradox? New Ideas in Psychology. 4:3. 311-322.

Kornai, J., 1992: The Socialist System: The Political Economy of Communism (Princeton University Press)

Moscovici S., 1976: Social influence and social change. Academic Press. London.

Schumpeter, J., 1922: The instability of capitalism. In: Rosenbert, N. (ed.): The economics of technological change. N. Y., 1971.

Voslensky, 1980: La Nomenklatura. “Le livre de poche”, 5672. Pierre Belfond.

Weber, M., 1964: Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft. I. Kiepenhauer und Witsch, Köln-Berlin.

Author’s texts related to the topic and available in non-Hungarian

1973: Strength and Weakness of Psychological Science. International Social Scien­ce Journal. 25. 447-460. (French version: La puissance et l’impuissance de la science psychologique. Revue Interna­tionale des Sciences Sociales. 25. 491-504.)

1977: Conflict and the Economic Paradigm. Dialectics and Humanism. 2. 47-58.

1984: Toward a psychoeconomic theory of social identity [in French]. Recherches Sociologiques. 313-335.

1987: Determining economic activity in a post-capitalist system. Journal of Economic Psychology. 8. 77-90.)

1988: Why bureaucratic control over economy is not that rational? Paper presented to the 13th Annual Colloquium of IAREP [International Association for Research in Economic Psychology], Louvain. (Published in Hungarian)

1991a: About the political system’s shift in Hungary: Considerations of a social psychologist [in Russian]. Vengersky Meridian. 1. 69-79.

1991b: The Bureaucratic State Governed by an Illegal Movement: Soviet-Type socie­ties and Bolshevik-Type Parties. Political Psychology. 10:1. 165-179.

1993: The Bolshevik type psycho-economic system [in Russian]. Polis. 1. 72-76.)

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