october stays red

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By JALDES MENESES*

The Revolution of October 25th (calendar) Julian), or November 7 (calendar Gregorian), remains a living event and challenging the present time of our lives

"From you fabula narratur” (Horace).

Introduction

Three years ago, the world celebrated the centenary of the October Socialist Revolution in Russia. Every year, all over the world, thousands of debates, seminars, round tables, conferences, publications, etc., demonstrate, regardless of the political-ideological position, that the great Revolution of October 25 (Julian calendar), or November (Gregorian calendar), remains a living event and challenging the present time of our lives. Positions on revolutions always get politicized quickly. More than the past or the present, like a study of a lost Neolithic paradise or a pre-Columbian civilization, the October Revolution continues to challenge the future.

I remember that in early 2017, an internet interlocutor whose name I prefer not to reveal, a Brazilian academic with good leftist intentions, wrote about the Russian revolution: discussing the Russian Revolution is easy. The difficult thing is to think about socialism in the XNUMXst century. The caller's question is false. There is no consistent critical-analytical reason to operate an artificial suture between history and project. In the relationship between history and project, A feeds back on B, and vice versa. Both, socialism and revolution, are fundamental, decisive reflections. Neither the Russian Revolution nor socialism (XNUMXst century is an interesting label, depending on how advertising is used) are easy reflections, unless you reduce them to some dogmatic conviction or some faithful hagiography. But to do so would not be to reflect. It would be repeating or, worse, falsifying.

In the former red territory, the post-socialist regime of Vladimir Putin pretended to grant the revolution a discreet status of historical recognition. After the alcoholic storm of Boris Yeltsin (1991-1999), whose project prescribed the purgative of the subordination of a multinational and multi-century historical Empire to the United States, the new post-socialist Russia remains a geopolitical giant precisely because it inherits the power reserves bequeathed by the rubble of the old regime, through the assets of the oil and gas reserves (suppliers of energy to the European Union), the atomic arsenal and the land military forces, stationed opposite to NATO.

At the dawn of the 1994th century, the establishment of the Soviet regime in old Tsarist Russia sounded the trumpets of an inaugural event. Eric Hobsbawm (12, p. 26-31) even wrote that the “short twentieth century” began there, ending on December 1991, XNUMX, with the self-dissolution of the Soviet Union in an enigmatic process of victory without war. The harakiri of a state was produced, in which the main antagonist, the United States, obtains a surrender without shooting or resistance. Soon they shouted, in the manner of a happy and drunk prophet: “communism is over”! Today, the main lesson to be drawn from the Russian Revolution is that a unique state experiment with no possibility of return is over - but not socialism or communism.

During the fall of the former Soviet Union, something similar to the containment strategies formulated by George Kennanb (2014) prevailed, that is, the formulation that if the United States managed to build a sanitary cordon, surrounding the Soviet area of ​​influence and preventing its expansion, the The URS model of socialism would one day collapse from the inside, based on the internal contradictions generated by economic, social, political and cultural performance, among which the disagreements within the Communist Party must be considered.

The order of the American strategic command became not to let the radical communist and socialist parties grow, under any circumstances, in the West and in the East, in the North and in the global South. In these aspects, undeniably, North American geopolitics in the Cold War conducted a policy of the hegemonic type – in the sense of trying to unite, through a certain consensus, the countries of the capitalist “West” against the Soviet “East”. In the application of this hegemonic policy, there was the reconstruction of Europe in tatters - Marshall Plan (1947-1951) -, the modernization of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, in addition to some approval in the internal disrespect for the gold dollar standard, through policies lax and inflationary “flight forward” policies in countries in a development cycle, such as Brazil from the 1930s to the 1970s.

Inaugural and fundamental, however, the Russian Revolution, evidently, was not the only societal novelty of the “short” twentieth century (1917-1991). The bombs dropped by the cruiser Aurora on the Winter Palace in Petrograd really heralded a new era. Fascism, Nazism, Salazarism, Francoism, the New Deal, followed in the wake and in the dialectical denial of socialism, in addition to regimes such as Peronism and Varguism in the Latin American periphery, which a few years later also constituted multiple and contradictory responses to the global crisis of the capitalism and the superstructure that reproduced it until then, the classical liberal state.

The duration of the classical liberal state was the Belle Epoque, beginnings of the last century. In this sense, one of the possible interpretations of the thesis of the “short” twentieth century (1918-1991) is that, since that time, classical liberalism disappeared and never returned as a fundamental practice of governmentality. Thus – and this thesis is fundamental in understanding this article – it was not classical liberalism or the isolated superiority of the market that defeated Soviet State Socialism, but another experience of an expanded State that defeated the competitor.

Neoliberalism is not just a State in the strict sense, but an Intellectual and Moral Revolution, an expanded State. Since 1944, when he wrote “The Great Transformation” in order to argue with liberalism of the belle epoque, but especially with an eye on the nascent neoliberal currents, Karl Polanyi (2000) made it clear that the distinction between classical liberalism and neoliberalism resides exactly in the awareness that every capitalist economy requires a state role, not only in the inspection of contract guarantees, but in political activism opened in favor of capital. Thinking about capital outside politics is a fairy tale with an unhappy ending. For this reason, despite the discourse, already four decades old, in defense of an unattainable “minimum state”, tax collection has not declined, nor has the public machine and state contracts been rigorously reduced. It just deviated – under the guise of a rhetoric of “fiscal responsibility” – the order of priority of resources from the public fund, from social policies to the remuneration of the public debt.

That is, the common sense, commonplace in political discourse, of interpreting neoliberalism as the return of laissez-faire it is an inconsistent mirage in terms of political and economic theory. Much is written about the political differences between Marxism and neoliberalism. Perhaps it would also be better to pay more attention to the differences between liberals in Belle Epoque and neoliberalism of today. First, neoliberal theory has never postulated a minimal state and laissez-faire. As much as the Marxists, the neoliberals do not believe in the myth of a permanent point of equilibrium in the capitalist economy, as the adherents of the neoclassical theory idyllically believed. Schumpeter (2017) radicalized the thesis by guaranteeing, instead of “general equilibrium”, what characterized capitalism was the imbalance of “creative destruction”.

In an interesting book, the American economist John Kenneth Galbraith (1994) narrates a personal journey through the USSR in the 1960s. The economy, so to speak, was flying in terms of investments and resource allocation. The USSR was ahead of the US, for example, in the space technology dispute. The entire American and European communication industry (internet, cell phones, etc.), the main source of capitalist investment today, originates from research and development in the military industrial complex. Perestroika, Gorbachev's economic reform project, resulted in a disaster in the reconversion attempt. The Soviet war economy, marked by total bureaucratic economic reproduction, presented insurmountable difficulties in transitioning to the civilian economy.

In the extensive debate, which ran through the entire XNUMXth century, on the “Soviet enigma”, that is, which social regime ultimately lasted in that social formation, varied and divergent are the opinions. In addition to theoretical differences, the Soviet economy lived, roughly, three remarkable evolutionary moments: 1) war communism (1918-1921); 2) the New Economic Policy (NEP), an economic plan for the transition to socialism (1921-1928); 3) nationalization and accelerated collectivization (1928-1956, rise; 1956-1991, fall). In short, prevailing the schemes of accelerated industrialization, the Soviet social regime organized an enormous effort of extensive and late industrialization, with the cover of an ideology that represented itself as socialist and on the path of transition to communism.

The most acute problem that afflicted the Soviet economy is that the reproduction - and not just the management of the economic plan - was entirely dependent on the bureaucracy. Market and value structures were completely atrophied by the non-existence – or formal existence, in a one-party regime – of a socialist civil society. It is interesting to note that from the end of the First World War, and especially after the 1929 crisis, the response to the crises of economic liberalism and the liberal State was the implementation of a political economy of State capitalism. Both the countries of the capitalist West and those of the developmentalist periphery embarked on the creation of strongly interventionist economic systems. The difference is that in the West these regimes were of partial and fragmented bureaucratic capitalism (ie, market and value structures were more porous), while in the USSR, for most of the time, they were of total bureaucratic socialism. In the West, for better or for worse, the perverse changes of neoliberalism have moved; while the USSR and the countries of Eastern Europe imploded due to the impossibility of making the transition. Thus, the defeat of the Soviet experience more meant the defeat of one state experience by another, of more porous social reproduction, and not the victory of the capitalist mode of production over the socialist mode of production or communism.

The new “programmatic economy”

In the meantime, by way of hypothesis, it comes to the case to intrude the verdict of Gramsci (2001) regarding the new corporate regimes, which emerged at the beginning of the “short” XNUMXth century in Europe, which also serves to approach the regimes of the periphery. The new regimes reigned for some time, but ended up collapsing. According to the Italian communist thinker, after a first stage of regenerative spirit of society's structures, damage and disgrace followed. That is, neither fascism (which he studied in depth) nor Nazism outlined consistent long-term responses to the crisis of the classical liberal state and the capitalist economy. In an interesting diagnosis, he considered them, essentially, “intermediate developments” between emerging Americanism and Sovietism. There was the effort of internal modernizing currents of fascism, such as “Italian corporatism”, which campaigned to introduce “American methods” of production in factories, but these were minority efforts and under the close fire of antagonistic currents.

Soon fascism and Nazism would irremediably show their weaknesses, since they constituted, despite the fact that they mobilized broad masses, more representatives of the old “unproductive” and petty-bourgeois Europe than harbingers of a new structure of long-term hegemony. Overexploitation and rigid territorial and compulsory circulation of the workforce, instruments widely used by Hitler, however long they last, are passing phases. Fascism and Nazism suffered from a congenital defect: economic reproduction depended entirely on the State, incrusting in it, in addition to the parasitic element, another destructive element ‒ the military apparatus.

Freely paraphrasing a brilliant passage by Ernest Mandel in late capitalism (1994, p. 113), in a quick analysis of the political economy of Nazism: sooner or later (even if it won the war) the Nazis would have to make their Glasnost (political opening) and their Perestroika (economic opening ). As Gorbachev tried in the death throes of the Soviet Union, it would be essential to have in those two countries a reconversion of investments towards the civil sector, stimulating a type of economic initiative, coming from below, which became, over time, politically uncontrollable by the rigid structures of command of a superficially strong state.

The political analysis of Gramsci (who died in 1937) brilliantly predicted the outcome of the Second World War, repeating with more information and foundation the same prophecy of Tocqueville in the final pages of the first book of Gramsci. Democracy in America (2001, p. 476). For the Italian and the French, the futures of the world, the two fundamental antagonistic developments, would germinate outside the old Western Europe. The two antagonistic developments of the XNUMXth century would be Americanism/Fordism and the regime of the Soviets.

Tocqueville's verdict was hardly an unprecedented premonition. A significant portion of European intelligence (Weber, Freud, Lenin, Trotsky, etc.), in full Belle Epoque and World War I, were already scrutinizing the new societal enigmas engendered in the United States and Russia. Anonymously following the vanguard of the European intelligentsia, in the youth of 27 years (1918), Gramsci said the following: “in the conflagration of ideas provoked by the war, two new forces emerged: the American president W. Wilson and the Russian maximalists. They represent the extremes of a logical chain of bourgeois and proletarian ideologies”. Certainly, Tocqueville was thinking of the Romanov sword; Gramsci was thinking of collectives of soviets.

Later and matured, when writing the Prison Notebooks (1929-1935), the youthful and impressionistic verdict of the two fundamental antagonistic developments will become more sophisticated in a universal strategic vision, taking into account the relations of force (international and internal to the Italian problematic). In the scrutiny of the two contending regimes, the question of hegemony, civil society and the corollary of the passive revolution came into question. In peculiar encrypted language, Gramsci (2001, p. 239-282) said in the Notebook 22 (Americanism and Fordism) that the world, both in the United States and in the USSR, was moving towards a transformation towards a “programmatic economy”.

Notebook 22 it was written when Gramsci's investigation was already at an advanced stage (1934). The author had already reached a stage of presenting conclusions. It seems to us that Gramsci's great question when he became interested in the new American methods of organizing the factory workforce and social reproduction consisted of knowing whether “Americanism can constitute a historical 'epoch', that is, whether it can determine a gradual development like the 'passive revolutions' typical of the last century, or if, on the contrary, it just represents the molecular accumulation of elements destined to produce an 'explosion', that is, a French-type revolution” (Gramsci, 2001, p. 242 ).

Gramsci's conclusion, although he does not express it textually, leaves little room for doubt: Fordism did express a passive revolution and not a revolution. “molecular accumulation” of a subsequent active revolution (such as the French one in 1989 or the Soviet one in 1917). All the many US initiatives to introduce changes in the spheres of material production (mainly Taylorism and Fordism) and social reproduction (concern for the family, sexuality and high wages) were “(…) the links in a chain that precisely mark the passage from the old economic individualism to the programmatic economy” (Gramsci, 2001, p. 241).

What did Gramsci have in mind with this statement? For him, the new industrial methods and the new ways of life, although they appeared here and there, in Europe were isolated phenomena. They only entered into synergy and gained universal reach with the first results of the Russian Revolution. They meant, let's say, "capitalistic responses" to the challenge launched by the Soviet Union, mainly after the First Five Year Plan (1928) - “the programmatic economy” of central planning.

Ironic history: it took an attempt to build a socialist State to produce the synergy of a new societal model in capitalism (Americanism/Fordism); there had to be the Soviet Union for the United States to emerge as a Nation - an example of the world capitalist system. Therefore, the expansion of Americanism/Fordism - and not only territorially and among workers, but also by reconfiguring the ethos cosmopolitan of the elites and ruling classes - it was a true process of passive revolution, of the necessary reform of world capitalism in the 1930s and beyond. Capitalism, with the resistance of liberals and the plutocracy, became the face of the United States of New Deal.

The Russian Revolution as a “Passive Revolution”

like the New Deal, would the development of the Russian Revolution, in its heroic phase, past the phase of explosive revolution, also be a process of Passive Revolution? Among the main intellectual debates in Soviet Russia in the 1920s were the clashes of two strategic theses of pace of development. A first group, among which the formulation of Preobrazhenski (1979) stood out, defended the thesis of rapid industrialization, in the vortex of a radical “primitive accumulation of socialism”. In turn, a second group, among which Bukharin (1974) stood out, defended a slower-paced process of economic construction of socialism, based on the stimulus to internal accumulation provided by rural property. At the end of the decade the controversy was decided. Stalin, who oscillated between the two groups, depending on the correlation of forces, took the reins of power and implemented a regime of progressive Bonapartism (Caesarism) (Gramsci, 2000, pp. 76-79) that ended up consolidating itself as a socialism of State of civil society (read: democracy of the soviets) gradually amorphous and of total bureaucratic reproduction.  

When the plate warmed up, in the first five-year plan (1928-1932) and in the forced collectivization of agriculture (1929-1931), in one of those ironies of history, Stalin's political realism did not have rashes. He took advantage of the fulcrum of his opponents' ideas of intensive accumulation. Cautious, Gramsci's indications about the Soviet Union, in this period, after the usual bows to recognize the heroic effort, are full of recognition, but also of veiled criticism, to the strategy of economic construction of socialism carried out by Stalin and his group .

It is neither rash nor an exaggeration to conclude that, in an encrypted manner due to the difficult situation of a prisoner, Gramsci recognized the historical validity of this path, but proposed the need for another direction for the Soviet Union. A central theme of the other possible way of constructing socialism, Gramsci's concern turned to the relations established between the new State and class hegemony. Briefly, the question is the following: did the ruling working-class party seek to incorporate all the other classes – mainly peasants – into the new historic bloc? Ou Did a falsification of Marxism prevail, in the disguised form of a workerist utopia of a “pure” workers' state? 

In Gramsci's prison writings, when the “Worker's State” is mentioned, in fact, the background reference is to the misleading self-satisfaction of creating a “Corporate State”. Reviewing the beginnings of the Stalinist regime, he noted that the new state was at a very incipient, "corporate" stage. That is, it did not absorb the aspirations of the allied classes, but, on the contrary, it subjected all classes (including the working class, formally ruling) to a strange regime - at least according to the criteria of the classic formulations of the Marxist tradition - of deification of the State. In terms of Gramsci (2000, p. 279-280), a “statolatrous” regime was taking shape. Taking into account the backwardness of Russia, a legacy of the backward tsarist empire, it was even reasonable that the beginning of the life of the new State presented deviations. The problem lies in turning vice into a virtue. Instead of encouraging the dismantling of statolatry through the exercise of socialist democracy, Stalin's regime strengthened deviation through the strengthening of a bureaucratic command.

At the crossroads at the end of the long 1789th century (1917 – XNUMX) and the dawn of short century xx, the Russian Revolution of February 1917 was the last of the European bourgeois revolutions of the XNUMXth century. The heterodox differential, Leninian but also Trotskian, was to propose immediately (in April) the socialist path to the revolution. According to the vision of both, Russia could extrapolate the manual of bourgeois revolutions adopted by the orthodox social-democratic program, which parked the tasks of the revolution in the agrarian question, the democratic question and the political constitution. In radical audacity, by different paths, Trotsky (1979), much earlier, in the aftermath of the failure of the 1905 Revolution, and Lenin (1979), at the gates of the 1917 revolution, developed, in terms of political strategy, the theses original texts by Marx and Engels (Marx: 1980a, p. 111-198;1980b, p. 83-92) on the possibilities of permanence of the revolution. That is, the possibility of taking the skies by storm and transforming the revolution, initially bourgeois in character, into a socialist one and expanding it around the world.

What would have been the main problems presented in the international strategy of the communist movement and in the exemplarity/expansiveness (in view of the objective of pursuing the conquest of international hegemony) of the Soviet Socialist Revolution?

Two combined processes, internal to the Soviet Union, are fundamental: the first Quinquennial (1928-1932) and the forced expropriation of private peasant property (1929-1931). They might even be inevitable, but the Plano and the forced expropriation defeated NEP's (1921-1928) attempts to establish a city-country balance system. Meanwhile, in front  Internationally, the VI Congress of the Communist International (1928) approved the so-called “third period” policy, of a general crisis of capitalism and the consideration of social democracy as “social fascism”. The three processes, internal (Five-Year Plan and peasant expropriation), and external (VI Congress), make up the vectors of a common strategy. It represented a far-reaching shift in the previous national and international experience of the workers' united front and the NEP.

The new strategic triad of the communist leadership – first Five Year Plan, peasant expropriation, VI Congress – did not seduce Gramsci. Shortly before, already in 1926, at the height of the crisis of division of the communist party in the Soviet Union, deputy in fascist Italy and on the verge of being arrested, he positioned himself contrary to automatic alignments before the groups in confrontation in the main communist party in the world, the the only one who had made the revolution in his country and from whom a natural authority emanated. Sensitive to the difficulties of a complicated international situation, essentially defensive, he postulated more fraternal relations between comrades. He sensed that the Soviet regime (at that very moment, especially due to the split in the ruling group) was losing international hegemonic potential. After the euphoria of the saga of taking and conquest of political power in Russia ‒ origin of the impulse and international influence of expansion of the revolution in the first years ‒, due to the consolidation of an autocratic style of command, the hegemonic potential of the revolution in Europe tended to wither away.

First of all, in order to advance at that moment, it was fundamental to eliminate the “spirit of division” of the Russian leaders – “spirit of division” that ended up consolidating itself in the famous XX Congress of the CPSU, in 1956. The synthesis of Gramsci's opinions, in the condition general secretary of the PCI, is well expressed in an instructive letter-reply to a previous missive sent to Palmiro Togliatti (representative of the PCI in the Executive of the Third Communist International, in Moscow). The year was 1926: “today, nine years after October 1917, it is no longer the fact of the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks that can revolutionize the western masses, since it is taken as something accomplished and has already produced its effects. Today the conviction (if it exists) is active, ideologically and politically, that the proletariat, once seized power, can build socialism. The Party's authority is bound up with this conviction, which cannot be inculcated in the broad masses by methods of scholastic pedagogy, but only by revolutionary pedagogy, i.e. only by the political fact that the entire Russian Party is convinced of this and fights in a unitary way” (Gramsci, 2004, p. 402).

After Lenin's death (January 1924), in the national and international quarrels of communism, the general secretary, Stalin, played a decisive role. Certainly thinking about the role played by Stalin and rooting for the validity of a transitory situation in the party and in Soviet society, Gramsci (2000, p. 76) formulated an interesting realistic “expansion” of the concept of caesarism, bifurcating it into progressive or regressive caesarism : “Caesarism is progressive when its intervention helps the progressive force to triumph, even with certain compromises and accommodations that limit the victory; it is regressive when its intervention helps the regressive force to triumph, also in this case with certain commitments and limitations, which, however, have a value, scope and meaning different from those of the previous case. Caesar and Napoleon I are examples of progressive Caesarism. Napoleon III and Bismarck, of regressive Caesarism”.

Thus, although without mentioning him directly, Gramsci's initial position on Stalin's attitudes was somewhat condescending, as was his position regarding the historical circumstances of the appearance of progressive caesarisms in in the process of bourgeois revolutions. Therefore, it is not “stretching your hand” to deduce that, in Gramsci, Stalin's circumstances resembled those of a Caesar, a Cromwell, a Napoleon I. In common throughout history, all of them were “progressive caesarists”. The situation of progressive caesarism in the Soviet Union – in fact, of all cesarism – could even be understandable in the short term, since it was temporary and from which a new balance of forces would emerge in the long term, lastingly occupying the political space.

Thus, the pattern of struggles in the Bolshevik Party after Lenin's death would be an example of progressive caesarism. Despite the formal prohibition of factions, three mutant groups fought for the majority in the Party and in the State, whose main leaders were Trotsky (“left”), Bukharin (“right”) and Stalin (“centre”). Simplified, the factional struggle, always in the presence of the Caesarist “arbiter”, occurred more or less in the following pattern: the “center” aligned itself for some time with the “right”, aiming to defeat the “left”; once the left was isolated, the “center” – whose oscillation represented vested interests in controlling the party machine – was encouraged to isolate the “right”. Defeated, finally, in a reactive process, the former members of the “left” (Trotsky) and the “right” (Bukharin), and even some elements purged from the “center” (Zinoviev, Kamenev), came together aiming at a heroic and inglorious to dethrone the “centre”.

The consequences of these factional struggles were twofold. First, the “left” and the “right” came together when it was no longer possible to defeat the old “centre”, strengthened by the control of the state machine and the party. Second, the “left” faction was defeated, but Stalin took advantage in his own way (and with a very high degree of radicalism) of the principles of economic policy advocated in the old “left” program (intensive industrialization, rigorous central planning, socialization of agriculture , etc.).

It must not be lost sight of, of course, that the three changing groups – “left”, “right” and “centre” – were not simply palace cliques emerging from some Shakespearean absolutist court. More than factions, they represented deep dynamics of political struggle dammed up in society. The main origin of the impoundment came from the regime, adopted in the X Congress (1921), of a single party and formal prohibition of factions. Lenin's interventions at the congress were supposed to be a temporary measure, but they acquired a permanent character under Stalin.

For this reason, the existing political struggle in society and in the various interest groups migrated into the party apparatus, especially the leadership, which bankrolled (in a plastered way) the mimesis of the entire social fabric, going through a sharp process of transformations and modernizations. These are the circumstances of Caesarism and Bonapartism, with the conceptual difference that Caesarism means the power of the last word in the closed circuit of legislative assemblies and parties, while Bonapartism means the extension of leadership to society.

It is perhaps correct, to a certain extent, to classify Stalin as a progressive Bonaparte (or a Caesar) in the period from January 1924 (Lenin's death) to 1928/1929 (beginning of peasant expropriation). It would be, so to speak, the caesarist/bonapartist phase (1924-1928) of the secretary general, who combined persuasive methods and repressive methods in combating “right” and “left” tendencies, punctual repression by the base (along with anonymous militants) and radicalized internal struggle against the main opponents in the party . Afterwards, as the antagonistic groups were defeated and the formation of opposition became very difficult, even camouflaged, there was no longer a need for a caesarism that fulfilled the role of a balance point between the crystals, inter alia Party-State. The stiffening of the political structures – the soviets and the party – capable of achieving hegemony became practically total.

The Caesarist regime is no longer partial, as in the experiences of state capitalism in general and in the NEP in particular. It started to be complete. The unfolding historical tragedy, in the phase following progressive Caesarism, was that an unprecedented historical type of passive revolution was taking shape – a revolution that assumed an exponential perspective of saturation of repressive structures. of the State, in a total abandonment of the incentive to structures of hegemony (the autonomous social initiative of the new Soviet civil society).

The regime was called, even by propagandists, a “revolution from above”. Would the new “revolution from above” be a new form of passive revolution of accelerated and forced modernization? Deutscher writes (1970, p. 266), in his biography of Stalin: “in 1929, five years after Lenin's death, Soviet Russia embarked on its second revolution, led solely and exclusively by Stalin. In terms of its reach and immediate impact on the lives of some 160 million people, the second revolution was even broader and more radical than the first. It resulted in the rapid industrialization of Russia; forced more than a hundred million peasants to abandon their small and primitive properties and found collective farms; he implacably wrested the age-old wooden plow from the hands of the muzhik and forced him to drive a modern tractor; took tens of millions of illiterates to school and made them learn to read and write; spiritually it disconnected European Russia from Europe and brought Asian Russia closer to Europe. The rewards of this revolution were staggering; but also the cost: an entire generation's total loss of spiritual and political freedom. It takes a huge stretch of the imagination to appreciate the magnitude and complexity of this social transformation that has no historical precedent.”

Two interconnected intentions were, of course, contemplated in the Gramscian study of passive revolutions, both bourgeois and proletarian. The first refers to the historical “content” of the process of revolutions. The second, more specific, refers to the correct “strategy” to be followed by the communist movement, worldwide, already in a historical period of passive revolution, after the failure of attempts to directly assault power in the German revolutions (1918-1923).

The question of content refers to the complicated fact that care was taken to submit, both in French Bonapartism and in the first phase of Russian Stalinism, the radical democratism of the sans culottes of the Parisian suburbs and the constituent power of the soviets Russians. Then, in the French Restoration and in the second phase of Stalinism, the objective was not to submit, but to extirpate any possibility of constituent power, subjecting the sphere of initiative of individual and collective subjects of civil society to a strong State machine centralized by the bureaucracy.

The Soviet regime was no longer that of the soviets, destroyed in its ability, quite developed in the first years of the revolution, to host molecular initiatives, coming from a nascent socialist civil society.

It is worth remembering that Gramsci characterized the Stalinist Soviet State as a backward formation, of an economic-corporate type, that is, the predominance of the statistic tendency in the direction of the State prevented civil society (the soviets) from developing complex superstructures, based on hegemony ( on consensus) and not on pure coercion. Finally, ancient Russia before the Revolution was an oriental-type society, whose predominance of the absolutist regime of the tsarist autocracy, the most closed in Europe, did not allow the development of structures of a complex and dynamic civil society. Autocracy had modernizing traits – in Peter the Great; Catherine of Russia, etc. – but never democratizing. Due to the historical liabilities, Gramsci even admitted, in the USSR, for some time, the validity of a statist regime, but warned: “(…) such statolatry must not be abandoned to itself, must not, especially, become theoretical fanaticism and be conceived as 'perpetual'” (Gramsci, 2000, p. 280).

*Jaldes Meneses He is a professor at the Department of History at the Federal University of Paraíba (UFPB).

 

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