A look at 'Egalitarian Socialism'.
Egalitarian Socialism: As previously mentioned, Marxism is the hypothetical 'pure' egalitarian socialism. Marx envisaged an international revolution of the 'proletariat' (working class) that would transcend ethnic, racial and cultural boundaries. This extreme egalitarianism or 'inclusiveness' is what defines egalitarian socialism.
In summary, egalitarian socialism is socialism for all with social homogeneity being produced by including everyone and forcing them all to conform to the socialist socio-economic system and all it's presuppositions.
There have been many offshoots of Marxism, both egalitarian and anti-egalitarian in nature, but we'll only cover a couple of the egalitarian ones here.
Leninism (or Bolshevism): By the end 19th century, the spontaneous revolution of the proletariat prophesied by Karl Marx simply hadn’t happened and, particularly in industrialised countries where the working class had doubled their material wealth in the last 50 years, the conditions for revolution were fading rapidly. In Russia, many Marxists shifted from waiting for a spontaneous revolution to a policy of activism. Whereas Lenin’s rival Mensheviks (‘minority’) favoured a broad party of activists with broad representation in a form later adopted by Mao in China, Lenin’s Bolsheviks (‘majority’) favoured a smaller party of ‘professional revolutionaries’ who would dedicate their lives to leading a workers’ revolution against the Tsarist government.
This shift to a cadre of ‘professional revolutionaries’ was a departure from Marxist theory. In practice, Leninism shifted to a two-class society, a ‘worker class’ and a ‘political class’ or ‘socialist intelligentsia’. These changes came about as a result of Marxist (read Middle Class) frustrations with the failure of the proletariat (working class) to rise up on their own. The Bolshevik conclusion was that the revolution could only be achieved under a strong leadership elite who must then relinquish power after the revolution to allow socialism to be fully realised. They believed that if the professional revolutionaries did not maintain control over the workers, they would lose sight of the movement’s objectives or perhaps abandon the revolution.
The same failure of a spontaneous revolution of the proletariat in Italy resulted in the rise of Fascism. Bolshevism and Fascism were both criticized for having departed from ‘pure’ Marxist ideals but gained sufficient popular support because many socialists believed that it was necessary to actively initiate the revolution. Most believed that, once the revolution had taken hold, the details could be worked out between the differing factions who were, after all, fellow socialists. In any case, Lenin telegrammed Mussolini to congratulate him on gaining power in Italy in 1922 and maintained his support for his fellow Marxist revolutionary until his death in 1924.
A note on Lenin: During a recent discussion between a Social Studies Teacher in Lacombe, Alberta, and a student enrolled in Social Studies 30, an interesting conversation was recorded by the student. In this conversation, the teacher claimed that when the Russian Revolution occurred, Lenin was trying to 'do things right'. However when he died, Stalin, who everyone agrees was a complete 'shit show', went off the rails and the whole communist experiment went sideways.
Lenin died in 1924, and the October Revolution occurred in 1917. By November, the new Bolshevik government had defined a new class of criminal, the 'class enemy' and tribunals of enemies of the revolution began, with sentences including forced labour. Also in November 1917, Felix Dzerzhinsky formed the 'Cheka', the Soviet Union's first secret police (subsequently becoming the NKVD under Stalin, followed by the KGB in latter years).
On June 16th, 1918, Leon Trotsky proposed a chain of slave labour camps to deal with the growing numbers of 'class enemies' convicted of crimes against the state. In August 1918 Lenin ordered a campaign of terror against the 'Kulaks', a group of successful farming peasants who had only just escaped serfdom in 1861. Freed from serfdom (a form of slavery), they'd done well for themselves and, as living proof that a free market was the best institution for elevating the working class out of poverty, Lenin decided to destroy the evidence by throwing them in slave labour camps. Thus, to usher in the 'working class utopia', the Bolsheviks had to destroy the very people who had personified a true revolution of the working class.
Also in August 1918, and to facilitate this effort, former WWI POW camps were converted into the first 'Gulags', or slave labour camps, under the control of Dzerzhinsky's Cheka secret police.
In September 1918, Lenin ordered Dzerzhinsky's Cheka to launch the 'Red Terror', a wave of arrest and murder aimed at any suspected enemies of the Bolshevik revolution. This campaign continued into 1921, with the new Gulag slave labour camp system playing a crucial role in the terror.
In the spring of 1919, Lenin signs the Gulag slave labour camp system into law.
From 1920-23, the Solovetsky Monestary in Russia's high arctic was converted into the most notorious of the Gulag camps. During it's operation, about 25% of the prisoner population starved or was worked to death.
Lenin dies in 1924, having created every apparatus of murder and oppression subsequently used by Stalin to kill and torture millions. By Stalin's death, it is estimated that the Gulag slave labour camps contributed over 70% of the Soviet economy, no nation in history had more effectively institutionalised slavery at the core of their economy.
By 1959, the Soviet Union had managed to kill around 20% of their own population. About 15 million Soviet citizens starved to death following the failure of agriculture following collectivisation, including around 6 million in Ukraine alone (the total number of Jews killed by the Nazis roughly equals just the Ukrainians starved to death by the Soviets). By 1959, the total death toll of Lenin's 'baby' is estimated as being between 45 and 66 million. This does not count the countless millions more who were imprisoned, tortured and worked as slaves.
Stalin may have presided over the majority of the killing and torture, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, known as Lenin, was the architect behind the destruction. Joseph Stalin merely put his foot on the accelerator of the death train Lenin designed.
Adolf Hitler later tried, and failed, to leave a more destructive legacy than Lenin, who is probably ranked 3rd (behind Stalin and Mao) most genocidal leader in human history, even if he didn't live to see the results of his efforts.
Maoism: In China, Mao and his followers also diverged from classical Marxist theory of revolution, but unlike Bolshevism or Fascism resisted the move to a two-class society (at least officially). Maoists followed ‘Mass Line’ theory, in which the party must not be separated from the popular masses in policy or revolutionary struggle. In this aspect, Maoism remained closer to theoretical Marxism than either Bolshevism or Fascism. In addition, Maoism focussed on the agrarian rural environment, creating an agrarian focussed socialism.
Mao presided over the worst genocide (in numbers) in human history. It is estimated that up to 45 million Chinese starved to death as a consequence of the collectivisation of agriculture. In total, estimates for the total death toll of Mao's 'Cultural Revolution' and 'Great Leap Forward' range between 60 and 100 million dead.
That's the equivalent to killing every single human being in modern day France, plus Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark!
It is worth noting that socialism in the post-Enlightenment era, the most oppressive and genocidal ideology in human history, is predominantly Marxist in its foundations. However, the Maoist branch of Marxism proved to be the most oppressive, genocidal and economically stagnant. As a result, initiated by the Deng Xiaoping reforms in the late 1970s, China moved toward an anti-egalitarian state capitalist economy run by an elite party of technocrats, becoming predominantly Fascist in it’s ideology and structure.
'Communist Manifesto' - Karl Marx & Fredrich Engels
'Das Kapital' - Karl Marx
'Gulag Archipelago' - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
'Chairman Mao's Little Red Book' - Mao Tse-tung
Last Edited - 29 Dec 18