Was Lenin a State-Capitalist? (The NEP explained)

was linen a state capitalist the NEP explained every now and then one hears the claim that Lenin was a state capitalist that Lenin didn't support socialism but state capitalism what is this based on let's get to the bottom of this this confusion stems from an incorrect understanding of Lenin's writings the early Soviet policies of war communism and the so called NEP or new economic policy Lenin of course was a communist he wanted socialism in the early 1920s Lenin argued strongly in favor of building socialism and said that it was no longer a matter of the distant future but something viable that could be built during the immediately following years quote socialism is no longer a matter of the distant future no matter how many difficulties it may entail we shall all not in one day but in the course of several years all of us together fulfill it whatever happens so that NEP Russia will become socialist Russia end of quote but what about the NEP what was it lenin even mentions the NEP in the quote above the NEP or the new economic policy was a transition policy from capitalism to socialism when the NEP was implemented the proletariat had conquered state power and large industry was mostly nationalized into the hands of the state however it wasn't socialism yet particularly because the agricultural sector was still mostly in private hands hence why linen closet state capitalism it would have been inaccurate to call it socialism it was the preparation for socialism this is what Lenin said in 1923 quote infinitely stereotyped for instance is the argument they learned by rote during the development of West European social democracy namely that we are not yet ripe for socialism but a certain quote unquote learned gentlemen among them put it the objective economic premises for socialism do not exist in our country the development of the productive forces of Russia has not yet attained the level that makes socialism possible quote unquote all the heroes of the second international including of course who cannot beat the drums about this proposition they keep harping on this incontrovertible proposition in a thousand different keys and think that it is decisive criterion of our evolution you say that civilization is necessary for the building of socialism very good but why could we not first create such prerequisites of civilization in our country by the expulsion of the landowners and the Russian capitalists and then start moving toward socialism where in what books have you read at such variations of the customary historical sequence of events are impermissible or impossible unquote the Mensheviks and Lenin's right-wing opponents are saying Russia is too poor for socialism Russia doesn't have the economic foundation or the economic prerequisites for socialism so Lenin replies all right Russia doesn't have the economic foundations for socialism so let's build those foundations and then we'll build socialism instead of just surrendering and saying oh okay we don't have the economic foundations let's just call it quits we can't do this we don't have the economic foundations let's just not even try no he says let's first build those foundations and then build socialism Lenin also realized that in order to transition to socialism it was necessary to create a collective agriculture sector to abolish private farming he said in 1923 talking about agricultural cooperatives quote as a matter of fact the political power of the Soviet overall large scale means of production the power in the state in the hands of the proletariat the alliance of this proletariat with the many millions of small and very small peasants they assured leadership of the peasantry but the proletariat etc is this not all that is necessary in order from the cooperatives from the cooperatives alone which we formerly treated as hock string and which from a certain aspect we have the right to treat as such now under the new economic policy is this not all that is necessary in order to build a complete socialist society this is not yet the building of socialist society but it is all that is necessary and sufficient for this building unquote look at the things he mentions their political power of the Soviet over all the large scale means of production state power in the hands of the proletariat worker-peasant Alliance and then when you add to that collective agriculture then he says they have all that it takes to build socialism this was in 1923 now compare this to Stalin's policy of creating the five-year plans in 1928 where during the first two five-year plans agriculture was collectivized and planned economy was implemented they realized that the agricultural sector had to be put on a socialist basis and when that was done in the collectivization of Agriculture then socialism could be built Lenin's opponents claimed that Lenin was going backwards and betraying socialism by advocating development on state capitalist lines in the NEP Lenin reminded them of what he had said already in 1917 quote socialism is merely the next step forward from state capitalist monopolies no revolt can bring about socialism unless the economic conditions for socialism are ripe state monopoly capitalism is a complete material preparation for socialism the threshold of socialism a rung on the ladder of history between which and the rung called socialism there are no intermediate rungs unquote now it should be clear that he says state capitalism is a material preparation for socialism that is the means of production have been developed and highly centralized so it is relatively easy for a dictatorship of the proletariat to take over the means of production take over the state nationalize all those means of production into the hand of the state of course Lenin is also talking about the context of his own time Russia was a semi-feudal country meaning that they had some industry in the cities but most of the country was underdeveloped countryside dominated by small-scale peasant production this is why Lenin said that it would be preferable and useful if the country wasn't semi-feudal but instead was state capitalist that would allow for faster development building up of Industry electricity etc Lenin points to the example of Germany which transitioned from feudalism to state capitalism he argued that this would be useful for Russia if it was under the dictatorship of the proletariat quote in the first place economically state capitalism is immeasurably superior to our present economic system in the second place there is nothing terrible in it for the Soviet power for the Soviet state is a state in which the power of the workers and the poor is assured to make things even clearer let us first of all take the most concrete example of state capitalism everybody knows what this example is it is Germany here we have the last word in modern scale capitalist engineering and plant organization subordinated to Juncker bourgeois imperialism cross out the words in italics and in the place of the military Juncker bourgeois imperialist state but also a state but of a different social type of a different class content a Soviet state that is a proletarian state and you will have the sum total of the conditions necessary for socialism socialism is inconceivable without large-scale capitalist engineering based on the latest discoveries of modern science it is inconceivable without plant state organization which keeps tens of millions of people to the strictest observance of a unified standard in production and distribution we Marxists have always spoken of this and it is not worthwhile wasting two seconds talking to people who do not understand even this anarchists and a good half of the left socialist revolutionaries unquote when he says socialism is inconceivable without large-scale capitalist engineering based on the latest discoveries of modern science and that Marxist have always spoken about this he's referring to the idea that first you have feudalism then capitalism develops out of that capitalism industrialized Society capitalism develops large means of production capitalism develops the working class then that working class has a revolution and takes over the capitalist system and then transforms it into a socialist system so that's why he's saying socialism is inconceivable without first having the capitalism large-scale capitalist engineering based on latest discoveries of modern science so what do you do if your country is semi-feudal so it's not yet fully capitalist Lenin's right-wing opponents the men civics and the second international they said in such a country in a semi-feudal country you can't build socialism you have to wait for capitalism to develop the best thing you can do is to try to overthrow the aristocracy and overthrow the monarchy and install capitalism let the capitalists the bourgeois take over Lenin obviously disagreed with this he said no we're not gonna wait you say the country doesn't have the necessary economic foundations for socialism all right so let's just build those foundations why do we have to let the capitalists do it why not just build those foundations ourselves so it's wrong to say what the utopians were saying which is you don't need industry for socialism you don't need economic foundations for socialism that's false but it's also false to say that if those economic foundations don't exist then you can't have socialism yes you can if the dictatorship of the proletariat itself creates those necessary foundations and this is basically what the new economic policy was Mao had a similar policy in fact most socialist countries have had to have similar policies because so many of them came from semi feudalism but Mao's policies pretty well known it's called new democracy Lenin Mao and these other people they had to be a little bit creative because when they had revolutions those countries weren't fully capitalist yet so they had to implement this temporary transition period of state capitalism control for the dictatorship of the proletariat instead of just having full on regular capitalism controlled by the capitalists but if you read Marx and Engels they actually had the same exact idea although typically when Marx and Engels talk about socialism they talk about it in an industrial country in a hypothetical situation where you have developed capitalism and then you have the revolution they don't usually talk about the peasants for example they talk about the workers but when Marx and Engels were asked about the peasantry and when they thought that they have to talk about the peasantry this is what they said quote we of course are decidedly on the side of the small peasant we shall do everything at all permissible to make his lot more bearable to facilitate his transition to the co-operative should he decide to do so and he to make it possible for him to remain on his smallholding for a protracted length of time to think the matter over should he still be unable to bring himself to the decision we do this not only because we consider the small peasant living by his own labour as virtually belonging to us but also in the direct interest of the party the greater number of peasants whom we can save from being actually hurled down into the proletariat whom we can win to our side while they are still peasants the more quickly and easily the social transformation will be accomplished it will serve us naught that is nothing to wait for this transformation until capitalist production has developed everywhere to its utmost consequences until the last small handy craftsman and the last small peasant have fallen victim to capitalist large-scale production on quote so that's pretty clear they say why wait just have a worker peasant alliance the peasants are on our side and why should we have to wait for capitalism to fully develop and ruin all the peasants and then take power why not just take power as soon as possible so Lenin was trying to combat this weird dogmatist view that had developed about socialism in the second international and among the Mensheviks and as you can see even from reading Marx and Engels this dogmatist view is not actually in accordance with Marxism it was Lenin's view that was in accordance with Marxism even though he had to tweak it to fit the conditions of Russia Marx and Engels said that all the means of production should be nationalized but Soviets quickly realized that it is impossible to nationalize all the small means of production especially the thousands and thousands of small peasant farms there's too many of them they're too small impossible to nationalize how would that even work so this raises a new problem because on the one hand Marx and Engels say you don't have to wait don't wait for the peasantry to be ruined by capitalism don't wait for the small farms to be centralized by the capitalists but at the same time all means of production should be nationalized so what do you do well in our modern day this is not necessarily a problem especially in the West even if we don't have state capitalism we have very highly developed capitalism this is not really an issue anymore we don't even have a peasantry really typically Western countries don't even have state capitalism anymore because that has kind of outlived itself as well state capitalism seems to have been a phase that capitalist countries used when the capitalists themselves were too small and therefore they needed the state to do a bunch of things Finland also used to be much more state capitalistic in the past than it is now for example some of the first railroads were privately built but the state then acquired all of them and built like a proper railroad network that the capitalists could use because the capitalists themselves were too small to do these huge projects so state capitalism was needed even in capitalist countries to benefit capitalists so this problem that Lenin is talking about doesn't really exist in the West anymore so that's also maybe why people don't fully understand it but for countries in the days of Marx and the days of Lenin this was an actual issue what to do with the peasants thousands and thousands tiny peasant farms you can't just nationalize them that's not gonna work so Lenin proposed setting up of agricultural cooperatives which would help transition the small peasant farms to socialism small farms are pooled together and they cooperate it is not only more effective but it's also a step away from private production to collective production although it's not state-owned production but it is still collective production and thus in accordance with socialism Lenin did not support state capitalism ruled by the bourgeois he didn't support the bourgeois at all but he realized that it would be inaccurate to call the NEP socialism so he called it state capitalism ruled by the proletariat it's a bit of a weird term may be misleading but it would be even more misleading to call it socialism really but it's simply false to say look Lenin didn't support socialism his report of state capitalism that's simply false Lenin was the one who was actually putting forth a practical program for building socialism but why did linens opponents accuse him of retreating backwards since they never had socialism before how can you go backwards that is because the Left Opposition wanted to continue their previous wartime policy of war communism he has communism in the name but that doesn't mean that it was actually socialist or communist war communism was a system of direct grain confiscation meaning that all the surplus food produced by the peasantry would be taken at a fixed price and given to the cities and the army this was a necessary wartime policy but it wasn't socialism and it was also unpopular among the peasants therefore when the Civil War ended war communism also ended war communism was basically war economy so there's no market relation there because there's direct state control the food supply but at the same time there's private property so this is not really socialist so that's what war communism was so war communism was ended when the war ended unlike war communism the NEP allowed a limited grain market so there was no direct grain confiscation anymore instead there was a limited grain market still highly regulated Lenin admitted that in some ways this was a retreat ideologically speaking and in terms of class relations because it does give the private farmer more control over his own product but it was a necessary policy and not really a negative policy the opponents were looking at what they saw as a negative which was really of secondary importance while Lenin was looking at the positive that was actually the primary result of the policy so let's recap the NEP meant ending of war communism rebuilding the country after the war large trade in the hands of the state but allowing a limited grain market to stimulate grain production developing industry in the hands of the proletarian state developing a collective agriculture sector in other words setting up the necessary economic foundations for building socialism thank you very much for watching please like and subscribe in the description you will find all my social media links as well as a link to my patreon see you next time comrades

  1. Please turn on notifications. Youtube doesn't notify subscribers of new videos very well unless you have them turned on.

  2. I remember the history lessons at school very well when the Lenin and the Bolsheviks were slandered for putting forward the New Economic Policy. Russia was a semi-Feudal backwaters when the Bolsheviks had just come to power, so the industrial proletariat was pretty much non-existent and the oppressed class was predominantly the peasantry. So essentially, what happened in Russia is a little bit similar to what happened in China too.

  3. Please, someone can translate this video into Spanish or at least put subtitles in Spanish to this video that is very interesting for many people to see that China is an "imperialist", "social-imperialist" country, that China abandoned socialism and left towards capitalism. It turns out that The People's Republic of China has a communist government, a socialist state and an economy called "market socialism" its economic model type is the "socialist market economy", although it has the characteristics of bourgeois state capitalism but in this case it is of the Proletarian State and aims to reach "socialism with Chinese characteristics".

  4. Can you do something with Caleb Maupin? He is very knowledgeable and you would both benefit from a colab.
    Also it would be a good opportunity to talk about China.

  5. The forced collectivization of farmers that happened in the Soviet Union doesnt sound to me like what Marx was describing.

  6. So why stalin decieded to end the NEP ? to industrialize the country and prepare it for the capitalist invasion?

  7. It's a bit like saying "You can't be a communist because late-stage communism hasn't been reached." Whether somebody is an "ist" of any kind is dependent on their beliefs, not in what conditions they try to practice those beliefs under. Lenin never got to experience socialism, but that doesn't mean he wasn't an ardent socialist.

  8. I think even in the West , we still need a special policy to deal with small owner farmer and petty bourgeoisie if we have revolution , capitalism can'tbe abolished just after a revolution . Even right now , we still have many start-ups starting their new business , we can't force them to abandoned their business , i think cooperatives can work for this situation , like Lenin and Stalin did in their era

  9. Off topic, sorry. This video is great as always and one can learn a lot from it as it helps organize thoughts and ideas. But most of the videos are talking of the past. As if the communist have double work: demystifying the past and explain Marxist theory and its validity today.
    Wouldn't be great to do a video of today's attempts to 'alternative society', as for instance on 'the venus project', or zeitgeist movment, showing that it is utopian socialism and from there explain all the rest of it. Pick something of today where thousands of people are attached and make them come to this info. Make them newcomers. I don't know. Just a though.
    I whish I could do my own videos but don't have the sufficient knowledge yet to do them as you do. Thanks for the videos. Keep up the good work! 🙏

  10. As Marx objected to authoritarian “Marxism”, if Lenin lived through the development of the USSR there would never have been any accepted philosophy akin to “Marxism-Leninism”

  11. Lenin is probably one of the most misunderstood figures in history. Or atleast it feels that way as a American

  12. For fuck sake are people this bloody thick , im 56 i remember explaining this to people 40 years ago , have people learned nothing , sadly it seems they have not , i was talking to a few young people must have been about 16 or 17 , i was talking about Socialism and i mentioned the Soviet union and yes one of them said what was the Soviet union , they had not heard of Lenin , it was then i thought to myself ive been a party member for 40 years and the young are so ignorant , i could hardly believe what i had heard , people are just taught how to pass exams , they lack a well grounded and wide general knowledge , we are going to have to educate people from scratch again and the Revolution is probably 60 to 80 years away , old Bolsheviks like me will not live to see it .

  13. Excellent video! I know it is frustrating for many communists and definetely anarchists . Russia wasn't even a proper country, so far backwards, so many social problems and lack of infrastructure. Not to speak of the bloodshed of the civil war, the non existent health system and the systemic pressure from the rest of Europe. It isn't a flawless excuse, but for 20s Russia it is.

  14. How would crime and misconduct be solved under communism? There should be a people's police/militia, correct?

  15. Great video comrade – I didn't know the bit about war communism. From what you said, it sounds like a wartime economy which, by the time of ww2, all of the imperialist countries would adopt.

  16. i've heard the claim that lenin wanted the USSR to keep the NEP forever by self proclaimed socialists and communists!
    usually trotskyites in my experience
    its really sad

  17. The only actual socialist among the Bolsheviks was Trotsky. The rest were state capitalists and wannabe beuracrats. They were too lazy to get an actual job so they opted to employ people through the state instead and exploit them.

  18. Anarkiddies are insufferable. Case in point.
    Also, just look at all of their online presence when these protests in Hong Kong started. They all jumped to defend the protestors like naive idiots. Of course those protesters are bootlicking imperialists who worship capitalism, but the anarkiddies either don't know or care, lmao

  19. Temporary state Capitalism is essential to the transition to a socialist state. It is pragmatic, realistic and materialistic. I will say that Soviet Russia and the Soviet Union were too busy consolidating power to create a non-market economy. Therefor the NEP was used.

  20. If communism is commonly understood as the collective ownership of the means of production and the abolition of all lucrative private property, why exactly would it necessitate to be built upon a previously existing capitalistic industrial economy to function? Couldn’t it just be implemented in any economy?

  21. Comrade good informative video, I am thinking about creating a communist YouTube channel and I would like to ask if there are any tips you could give.

  22. How can you say the NEP was about establishing collective agriculture when it's main social result in agriculture was millions of Kulaks?

    The NEP was a retreat from collectivisation, the main slogan towards the peasantry being "enrich yourselves!". It necessarily led to the growth of the Kulak class. Lenin understood this, hence why he saw it as a "strategic retreat" and a double-edged sword for the building of socialism. And this is why the Left Opposition wanted to end the NEP as soon as possible, to begin collectivisation and planned industrialisation (in 1923), because the Kulaks would be an enemy within the Soviet state and a social basis for the restoration of capitalism.

  23. I've asked monsieurz to do What if Lenin switched bodies with Tsar Nicholas. What would you think of collabing with him on that?

  24. If fascism is the merging of state and capital, is state capitalism and fascism essentially the same thing?

  25. Tremendous video comrade. So important to clear up confusion and misunderstandings. Socialism is a science and without a thorough going analysis and thus a learning experience from what went before we would be guilty of making unnecessary mistakes in the present and the future. I have a friend who says the revolutions in Russia and China were doomed to fail because of the backwardness of those countries. Your video debunks that assertion and I love it!

  26. Can you do another video explaiing stalin's attempt to transition to the next stage of communism. which he tried to introduce in 1947 and 1952

  27. Lenin: "How do we build socialism, lets try XYZ" Mensheviks: "Noooo DUDE!!! Lets just wait a few decades and let capitalism entrench itself in the country before we do anything!"
    Do they live in the same fucking reality that we do? How in the heck is allowing capitalists control over the state going to help empower the working class in any way. Economic development aside, if they did the Menshevik strategy, the proletariat at the time of the revolution would have to contend with entrenched bourgeoisie protected by soldiers and police. Don't wait cowards, just make the conditions for socialism without all that exploitation and class struggle!

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