People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 13

March 31, 2013





The Images of Socialism We Are Struggling For


Sitaram Yechury


THE day after the conclusion of the 15th Congress, the CPRF organised an international round-table on the topic of 'The Images of Socialism We Are Struggling For'. Given the large number of international participants and this is only a single day event, each party had less than ten minutes to present their core points of view, while the written texts have been uploaded on the net on the CPRF site. The proceedings of this round-table were streamed live on the CPRF website and can be accessed in their archives at


The CPRF admitted that they have not yet come to any final or substantive conclusion on the evolution of the experience of socialism in the Soviet Union in the 20th century. They informed that they are still continuing their work in Russia and assured the international delegations that they shall, hopefully be sharing their analysis soon with the international communist parties. With regards to their understanding of socialism of the future in the 21st century, they repeated the essence of what is contained in the report of the 15th Congress on this issue, which is the following: “The position of the CPRF on the fundamental issues is set forth in the Party programme. The new edition includes a thesis on 21st century socialism and declares a commitment to further study of the problem. The CPRF is working towards that end.


Of course the look of socialism in the 21st century should not be a utopian picture prompted by wishful thinking. What we need is serious analysis that would enable us to give an accurate forecast and to set viable practical tasks. We need a scientific picture of the development of society. No more, but no less.


First of all socialism presupposes a replacement of private ownership of the means of production with public ownership. This is a necessary precondition for overcoming class divisions and introducing a planned organisation of social life “to ensure the well-being and all-round development of all members of society”,  to quote Lenin. What the Marxist-Leninist classics meant by replacement of property is an issue that merits attention.


Neither Marx, nor Lenin regarded the act of turning private capitalist property into State property as the final aim of the communist movement. They saw it merely as a first step towards creating a society without a State, without money, without violent enforcement of rules of human activity. On the way towards communist society State property should develop into genuinely public property of which every individual is a co-owner. Everyone will regard this property as his/her own, being able to use it to meet his/her personal and socially significant needs.


By wealth Marx and Lenin meant not the total body of “things” but the wealth of culture produced by mankind. The essence of Marxism is that social development is called upon to solve an overarching task: to enable every individual to use the wealth accumulated by mankind and from which he was alienated under capitalism. The social form of ownership of all the benefits of culture, as they saw it, would help to solve the key historical task, ie to turn every individual from a narrow professional, from a slave of the division of labour into intellectual and physical labour, into a rounded individual who can freely change types of activity and who runs the affairs of the whole society.


The trail-blazing path that Soviet society was following was difficult and involved sacrifice. The danger of a war aimed at destroying the USSR made it necessary to establish a monopoly of State property over a long period. No other forms of ownership were tolerated except the property of collective farms and cooperatives and personal property. This was the requirement of the mobilisation economy dictated by historical realities. It ensured the industrialisation of the country, saved the Soviet Union during the Great Patriotic War and made it possible to quickly restore the war-devastated economy and create a nuclear shield for the Soviet power.


Having guaranteed its national security the USSR was able to pass on to a new stage in the transformation of Soviet society. The objective need for this was already evident by the end of the 1970s. The range of conditions for the transition of society to a new level of development had taken shape. The path leading up to that goal was expanding self-government and tapping the creative potential of people. But then the treacherous Gorbachev “perestroika” broke out, which of course was not an accident. The country was preparing to move into a new stage of development. World capital had to exert an enormous effort to destroy a dangerous rival. Reagan’s term “the evil empire” signalled the readiness of imperialism to engage the USSR in a life-and-death battle.


With the help of the “fifth column” the plan of defeating the socialist citadel was put into practice. And yet the hardship and deprivation people experienced in order to build a new society had not been in vain. Our people and the entire mankind made a colossal leap towards social progress. The history of the USSR provided priceless experience for all those who continue the great struggle for a just society. Building on what has been achieved, socialism is moving forward in the third millennium.


The look of socialism in the 21st century is that of a developing socialism with a communist perspective. For us communism is a logical result of scientifically planned progressive movement of socialism. It is not just a beautiful dream, nor is it a position that can be achieved by a certain date. That was why Khrushchev’s slogan of “building Communism by the 1980s” caused great damage to socialism.


Joseph Stalin in his time thus formulated the main economic law of socialism: “Maximum satisfaction of the constantly growing material and cultural needs of the whole society through continuous growth and improvement of socialist production on the basis of high technology”. This provision fully meets the goals of socialist progress.


Our view of socialism is inseparably bound up with the priority of science in the life of society. In its policy documents, the CPRF stresses the development of science-intensive production, the revival of the best of the Soviet education system that builds up intellectual reserves capable of accomplishing scientific and technical breakthroughs. Today scientists, having experienced the “delights” of capitalism, are coming to understand the validity of Lenin’s statement: “Only socialism will liberate science from its bourgeois shackles, from its enslavement by capital, from its subservience to the interests of vile capitalist lust for gain. Only socialism will make it possible to spread and really effect social production and distribution of products on scientific grounds.” Socialism in the 21st century is unthinkable without scientific forecasting and planning of economic development.


If people are to identify themselves with socialism, socialism must incorporate the culture of the whole mankind. That calls for fundamental education. That is why the CPRF will not relinquish its struggle for free and high-quality education for all. It must be aimed at fostering the ability to think independently, to assimilate imparted knowledge creatively and to use it in practice in the rapidly changing living conditions.


Our vision of socialism is that of a society of social justice in which working people would regain and increase their social rights. They are the right to housing, labour and leisure, free education and health care, decent old-age and disability pensions. Socialism alone guarantees that great social package. It alone provides equal opportunities for all to meet the basic human needs for creativity, procreation, communication, knowledge and beauty.


Transition to a society of justice implies elimination of social inequalities. The first step is nationalisation of big capitalist property. It does not yet mean socialist transformation of production that is impossible in a bourgeois State. But in the case of nationalisation, as Lenin said, “we are not talking about introducing socialism now, directly, overnight, but about exposing embezzlement”. Nationalisation in today’s Russia would rid it of the omnipotence of foreign capital which has taken control of the country’s economy.


Increased role of State property is not yet socialism, but it facilitates a transition to socialism. It is a necessary condition for the period of transition towards socialism, when, while State property is predominant collective forms of ownership, people’s enterprises, will get all the support they need. These enterprises, building on the national historical traditions of collective life, will become seats of self-government in Russia, the foundation of socialist democracy. As part of planned development of social production the State will establish proper control over the market sector. During the prolonged period of transition to socialism, the private sector too acquires a socially oriented character. Its owners will have to use it for the benefit of the whole society combining private interest with the social interest. It would not pay to act otherwise. Private entrepreneurship for the benefit of the people will have the status of socially relevant activity protected by the State.


Socialism in the 21st century is socialism of genuine people’s rule. The CPRF seeks a replacement of the Western-type parliamentary democracy in Russia with a Soviet-type democracy. The Soviet democracy was the result of the creativity of the masses displayed during the revolutionary events in the early 20th century. Its foundations were formed in ancient Russia and survived for centuries in the Russian peasant commune. The power of the Soviets, being an instance of democracy of the vast majority of working people in the country, had a basically class nature. Reflecting and protecting the interests of the working people, it matched the national features of the Russian people that forms the core of the State, as well as the Ukrainian, Byelorussian and many other peoples of the USSR. The tradition of solving fateful issues “by the whole commune”, ie, by a peasant meeting, a meeting of Cossacks, was symptomatic of a desire to see a just government based on the will of the people and grassroots control.


The liquidation of Soviet power and restoration of capitalism dealt a blow at the interests of the working people and at the national identity of Russia. Under the pressure of the propaganda by the advocates of perestroika, bureaucratisation was seen by most people as a sign that Soviet power was somehow bereft by comparison with Western parliamentarism which is basically designed to cover up the power of capital. In the 21st century only the restoration of the Soviet organisation of State power and socialist democracy will safeguard Russia from the forces of national separatism and stop the centrifugal forces.


Socialism in the 21st century will continue to develop within national borders. It is called upon to guarantee for Russia national security in accordance with the country’s geopolitical position and international threats.  That is impossible without a powerful military-industrial complex that meets the requirements of scientific and technical progress. It needs armed forces that can defend the country and defeat the aggressor.


Military threats will not go away as long as world imperialism exists. The struggle for raw materials in the capitalist world is becoming ever tougher. Russia is the main target of that struggle and the target of a possible aggression. The Soviet power, which had the strongest army, only guaranteed its security when it created a nuclear shield. Without such a shield, aggression against the USSR would have been inevitable. All the talk about new-look socialism is worth nothing unless it ensures the protection of national independence. Without it, the freedom of the individual and all-round development of the individual cannot be guaranteed.


Socialism in the 21st century is socialism of high culture. Access to its achievements will become equal for all members of society, like it was in the USSR. Socialism will further develop on the basis of the historic achievements of the Soviet civilization. The key role in the development of literature and the arts will be played by the forms of classical Russian critical realism and socialist, Sholokhov-style realism. That does not rule out the development of other forms through which, as Stanislavsky said, the power of the human spirit and its creative might is conveyed. Crass materialism, a vulgar consumerist attitude to culture that are features of bourgeois culture, will not go away by themselves. They can only be overcome by high culture which, under a new socialism, like in the Soviet times, will be national in form and socialist in content.


The new socialism will restore the word of truth. The system of people’s education in which the main hero will be the working man who creates a life that is free of exploitation and its vices will become the main hero. He will be at the focus of socialist culture in all its forms.


The role of family and school in transmitting cultural values will increase many times over. School will ensure uniformity of intellectual and moral education, which has always been the cornerstone of the education system in this country. In accordance with Lenin’s behest, the teacher’s position will be more exalted than it has ever been in bourgeois society. The process of education at school will be based on teachers and pupils forming a single collective.


Of course it is difficult to draw a complete picture of the future, even of not very remote future. But the outlines of the future socialism are visible, understandable and attract millions of people.


Determining the look of socialism in the 21st century the CPRF naturally includes the features that have long been discovered by Marxist-Leninist science and the experience of real socialism. It takes into account current historical conditions, the achievements of scientific-technical progress and the national features of specific countries. Scientific forecasting of social development forms the basis of the communists’ political programme, the programme developed in the interests of the majority of the people.


As you understand, comrades, the crisis of capitalism creates a situation that is increasingly unstable and dangerous. By the same token it offers some new opportunities for the struggle for socialism. In this context, the subjective factor of the revolutionary process is extremely important. The Communist Party is called upon to strengthen links with the masses of the people, to rely on their creative potential, to perform the role of the vanguard of the working class and all the working people, veterans and the youth. Only such a party can launch a struggle against capital on a broad front. It alone can ensure success at the time of revolutionary upsurge. In order to build up its strength and lead the masses to victory the Communist Party needs:


- ideological strength and a robust programme,

- strong organisation,

- effective political work among the grassroots, including work collectives, parliament and the street,

- increased propaganda potential;

- a wider front of allies,

- solidarity of progressive forces on the international arena,

- greater material and financial independence from capital and the bourgeois state.

-to rely on the power of ideas”.




Given the general constraints of time, Sitaram Yechury conveyed the essential understanding of the Resolution on the ideological issues adopted by the 20th Congress. This Resolution was widely read by the communist parties and some of them like the Brazilian and Portuguese have translated and subjected to an inner party discussion in their parties. Some reflections of this can be seen in the positions adopted by the CPRF as well. After the initial pleasantries and thanking the CPRF for providing this opportunity, the CPI (M) intervention contained the following in the main.


I wish to deal this subject in four sections.


The first concerns with the general international image of the socialism in the 21st century, which I believe is something which all parties assembled here would agree.


Socialism in the 21st century cannot be a replication of the socialism in the 20th century, notwithstanding the inerasable contributions it had made in shaping the contours and advances of human civilisation.


Socialism in the 21st century will be: a system free from exploitation of man by man and nation by nation; a system where there shall be a socialised ownership of the public means of production; a system that will strengthen the democratic rights and civil liberties by providing the people with the capabilities to exercise these rights and liberties unlike capitalism where they remain largely formal.


Establish the superiority of socialism over capitalism through higher levels of productivity and superior levels of means of production.


A system that will complete the transition from “to each according to his ability” to “each according to his work” laying the foundation for the establishment of a future communist society according to the principle of “to each according to his need”.


Such a transition will be achieved through ever increasing participation of all people in the functioning of the State and the system. Recollect Lenin, who once said that under socialism, “every cook will be able to govern”.


The system where politics of socialism will determine the economic policies, unlike in capitalism where economic policies (maximisation of profits) determines its politics.


In order to achieve this, it is necessary that there can be no repetition of the past mistakes regarding the very understanding of the very transition of socialism; incorrect estimates and assessments of international correlation of class forces and concrete mistakes committed in the process of building socialism in the 20th century particularly in the spheres of socialist democracy; the functioning of the proletarian State (which Stalin said in the 18th Congress of the CPSU, has different phases whose transition if not made on time can lead to authoritarian tendencies); economic construction and the continuously increasing levels of social consciousness.


The CPI(M)s analysis of these aspects is contained in the resolutions adopted at our 14th and 20th Congresses which can be accessed on our website, Therefore I am not repeating this understanding.


Third, in order to achieve our objective, it is necessary to have a proper assessment of contemporary imperialism. It is an inviolable scientific Marxist analysis that shows that notwithstanding the severity of the crisis, capitalism will never collapse on its own. This is all the more true in the current situation, when the balance of international class forces is in favour of imperialism which permits its greater aggressiveness in all spheres to overcome this crisis. However, the current crisis itself generates immense possibilities of strengthening popular struggles against capitalism. There is  need for all of us here to work for the convergence of the current anti-imperialist war protest movements and the anti-neo-liberal economic reform aggressiveness of imperialism to build a global anti-imperialist movement. This requires the need to build solid alliances, both domestically and globally, with all anti-imperialist forces to make imperialism retreat.


Fourth, all of us here at this round-table come from countries that are at different stages of the development of capitalism. It is hence inevitable that Marxism-Leninism in its universal sense will have to be applied to the concrete conditions prevailing in each of our countries. After all, as Lenin has once said, “concrete analysis of concrete situation is the living essence of dialectics”. In India, the CPI(M) Programme defines our stage of revolution as a democratic stage of peoples' democracy. Only after we achieve success in this stage of anti-imperialism, anti-domestic landlordism and anti-domestic monopoly capitalism can we move towards the stage of socialist revolution. We, under our own concrete conditions are working towards the democratic stage of the revolution currently.


Therefore while all of us have a universal image of socialism in 21st century, based on our share and commitment to the revolutionary content of the creative science of Marxism-Leninism and to the ideal of socialism, we need to realise this image within the concrete conditions that prevail in our respective countries. Needless to add, the success that any one of us achieve in our country on this score will constitute a revolutionary breach in the global imperialist outreach and thus contribute to the advance towards socialism in the 21st century.