Hoxhaism is a self-proclaimed staunchly anti-revisionist line that follows the same line as Joseph Stalin of the USSR and Enver Hoxha of Albania. Hoxhaists generally believe in the key Maoist theories of protracted people’s war and Soviet social-imperialism, while rejecting Mao Zedong and Maoism as revisionist, mostly due to his Three Worlds Theory and his meeting with Richard Nixon in 1972 (and consequential opening of China).
The first major flaw of Hoxhaism is its ultra-dogmatic anti-revisionist line that goes against the scientific character of Marxism in favor of sectarianism. Hoxha himself denounced many attempts to build socialism in other countries for not following his rigid line of Marxism-Leninism, such as the workers’ revolutions in Czechoslovakia and Hungary, which Hoxha and Hoxhaists denounce as “counter-revolutionary”, “reactionary”, and even “fascist”, despite the tanks being sent in not by proletarian internationalist Joseph Stalin, but by revisionist social-imperialist Nikita Kruschev, to crush grassroots labor councils pushing for proletarian organs of power rather than a bureaucratic monopoly on all organization.
Marxism is an analytical lenses that is not static and rigid in character but scientific and dialectical, and allows us to interpret history through dialectical and historical materialism, and apply revolutionary tactics to the current material conditions. Hoxhaism rejects this view, and some go so far as to say that no country has been truly socialist except the USSR under Joseph Stalin and Hoxha’s Albania; not the People’s Republic of China (1949-1975), nor Cuba, nor revolutionary Vietnam, nor the GDR. This view is one of ultra-left sectarianism, not of scientific socialism.
Marxism-Leninism-Maoism builds specifically on the theoretical contributions of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao towards communism, and the vast majority of MLMS recognize the USSR (from 1929 to 1956) as a socialist country, only turned away by the state-capitalist policies of Nikita Kruschev, who reintroduced the profit system and even market allocation in land and capital as a part of his 1956 economic reforms. In addition, the domestic and foreign policy of Kruschev marks his revisionism, such as “de-Stalinization” (reversing socialist construction and progress in favor of a class-collaborationist method), “peaceful coexistence” with aggressive Western capitalist countries, and his social-imperialism that would lead to joint-stock companies, Soviet aggression against workers movements in certain Eastern Bloc countries, and laid the foundations for Russian invasions of Hungary, Czechoslovakia, GDR, and Afghanistan.
As a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, I do characterize the USSR under Stalin as a “socialist” economy, and wish to defend its legacy against ultraleft and tankie elements. Why was the Soviet Union a socialist country?
The USSR’s material conditions necessitated further growth of capitalism to sufficiently develop the factors of production after disastrous, poorly coordinated “War Communism” policies, and Lenin realized this, introducing the New Economic Policy that allowed free enterprise and market mechanisms while retaining strict regulations on the “commanding heights” of the economy. However, this process also led to the re-emergence of classes, and thus, class struggle, that had been suppressed during the Bolshevik Revolution. By the end of Lenin’s rule, despite many gains in terms of social progress (women’s rights and equality for all), health care, and education, the country was still backwards, despite moving from feudalism to a capitalist mode of production. What was need was socialist construction and reconstruction, and the new head of the CCCP, Joseph Stalin, was dedicated to this cause.
Stalin embarked on a campaign of rapid industrialization and collectivization to modernize his country and build a socialist society. The result was incredible economic growth that lasted into the early 1970s, and tremendous advances in the reduction of infant mortality, poverty, and hunger. Unemployment and homelessness were abolished in the USSR, and life expectancy, incomes, literacy, and GDP per capita soared. Private property and private ownership of the means of production was destroyed and replaced with state owned enterprises and cooperative farms. Profits were reinvested in production and in social projects to further benefit the people, such as social security, national health care systems, and education.
Left coms claim that the USSR was not socialist because there existed surplus value (and thus a wages system), the law of value, and commodity production. However, Marx and Engels themselves made clear statements about these elements in their relations with socialism (excerpts come from Anti-Duhring and Critique of the Gotha).
“From this must now be deducted: First, cover for replacement of the means of production used up. Second, additional portion for expansion of production. Third, reserve or insurance funds to provide against accidents, dislocations caused by natural calamities, etc. These deductions from the “undiminished” proceeds of labor are an economic necessity, and their magnitude is to be determined according to available means and forces, and partly by computation of probabilities, but they are in no way calculable by equity. There remains the other part of the total product, intended to serve as means of consumption. Before this is divided among the individuals, there has to be deducted again, from it: First, the general costs of administration not belonging to production. This part will, from the outset, be very considerably restricted in comparison with present-day society, and it diminishes in proportion as the new society develops. Second, that which is intended for the common satisfaction of needs, such as schools, health services, etc. From the outset, this part grows considerably in comparison with present-day society, and it grows in proportion as the new society develops. Third, funds for those unable to work, etc., in short, for what is included under so-called official poor relief today.” (Marx, Critique of the Gotha)
“What we have to deal with here is a communist society, not as it has developed on its own foundations, but, on the contrary, just as it emerges from capitalist society; which is thus in every respect, economically, morally, and intellectually, still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it emerges. Accordingly, the individual producer receives back from society — after the deductions have been made — exactly what he gives to it. What he has given to it is his individual quantum of labor. For example, the social working day consists of the sum of the individual hours of work; the individual labor time of the individual producer is the part of the social working day contributed by him, his share in it. He receives a certificate from society that he has furnished such-and-such an amount of labor (after deducting his labor for the common funds); and with this certificate, he draws from the social stock of means of consumption as much as the same amount of labor cost. The same amount of labor which he has given to society in one form, he receives back in another. Here, obviously, the same principle prevails as that which regulates the exchange of commodities, as far as this is exchange of equal values. Content and form are changed, because under the altered circumstances no one can give anything except his labor, and because, on the other hand, nothing can pass to the ownership of individuals, except individual means of consumption. But as far as the distribution of the latter among the individual producers is concerned, the same principle prevails as in the exchange of commodity equivalents: a given amount of labor in one form is exchanged for an equal amount of labor in another form.” (Marx, Critique of the Gotha)
“Whilst the capitalist mode of production more and more completely transforms the great majority of the population into proletarians, it creates the power which, under penalty of its own destruction, is forced to accomplish this revolution. Whilst it forces on more and more the transformation of the vast means of production, already socialised, into state property, it shows itself the way to accomplishing this revolution. The proletariat seizes political power and turns the means of production in the first instance into state property. But, in doing this, it abolishes itself as proletariat, abolishes all class distinctions and class antagonisms, abolishes also the state as state. Society thus far, based upon class antagonisms, had need of the state, that is, of an organisation of the particular class, which was pro tempore the exploiting class, for the maintenance of its external conditions of production, and, therefore, especially, for the purpose of forcibly keeping the exploited classes in the condition of oppression corresponding with the given mode of production (slavery, serfdom, wage-labour). The state was the official representative of society as a whole; the gathering of it together into a visible embodiment. But it was this only in so far as it was the state of that class which itself represented, for the time being, society as a whole: in ancient times, the state of slave-owning citizens; in the Middle Ages, the feudal lords; in our own time, the bourgeoisie. When at last it becomes the real representative of the whole of society, it renders itself unnecessary. As soon as there is no longer any social class to be held in subjection; as soon as class rule, and the individual struggle for existence based upon our present anarchy in production, with the collisions and excesses arising from these, are removed, nothing more remains to be repressed, and a special repressive force, a state, is no longer necessary. The first act by virtue of which the state really constitutes itself the representative of the whole of society — the taking possession of the means of production in the name of society — this is, at the same time, its last independent act as a state. State interference in social relations becomes, in one domain after another, superfluous, and then dies out of itself; the government of persons is replaced by the administration of things, and by the conduct of processes of production. The state is not “abolished”. It dies out.This gives the measure of the value of the phrase “a free people’s state”, both as to its justifiable use at times by agitators, and as to its ultimate scientific insufficiency; and also of the demands of the so-called anarchists for the abolition of the state out of hand.” (Engels, Anti-Duhring)
Surplus value was extracted from Soviet workers by the state, but the state was not a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie but rather a dictatorship of the proletariat controlled by the workers with universal suffrage and elections to municipal and national assemblies through secret ballot with “one man, one vote”, with workers and farmers serving as functionaries of the state, so the working class was put in control of its own surplus labor, a concept valued by Marx, Engels, and Lenin. In addition, these deductions were made for the same reasons that Marx gave – to provide a general level of social security for those too old and feeble or young and meek to work, to maintain infrastructure, expand production, keep a fund of national insurance and health care, guarantee housing and employment for all men, and for the cost of administration. Distribution of the proceeds of labor was based on “from each according to his ability, to each according to his contribution”, enshrined in the Soviet Constitution, with the concept of “he who does not work shall not eat” (with exceptions to those unable to work). In addition, since Marx describes that exchange value would be maintained in a “lower phase of communist society” (described as socialism by Lenin), the production of commodities (objects with a dual use-value and exchange-value) would by proxy continue, although limited to socialist means, with no private property, exploitation, or anarchy of the market. The only things that would cease to be commodities, noted by Mao and Stalin, in a socialist transitional phase, would be the means of production (land and capital) and the common need (health care, education, public transport), both of which ceased to be commodities in Stalin’s USSR.
“Elsewhere in Anti-Duhring Engels speaks of mastering “all the means of production,” of taking possession of “all means of production.” Hence, in this formula Engels has in mind the nationalization not of part, but of all the means of production, that is, the conversion into public property of the means of production not only of industry, but also of agriculture. It follows from this that Engels has in mind countries where capitalism and the concentration of production have advanced far enough both in industry and in agriculture to permit the expropriation of all the means of production in the country and their conversion into public property. Engels, consequently, considers that in such countries, parallel with the socialization of all the means of production, commodity production should be put an end to. And that, of course, is correct. There was only one such country at the close of the last century, when Anti-Duhring was published – Britain. There the development of capitalism and the concentration of production both in industry and in agriculture had reached such a point that it would have been possible, in the event of the assumption of power by the proletariat, to convert all the country’s means of production into public property and to put an end to commodity production … It is said that commodity production must lead, is bound to lead, to capitalism all the same, under all conditions. That is not true. Not always and not under all conditions! Commodity production must not be identified with capitalist production. They are two different things. Capitalist production is the highest form of commodity production. Commodity production leads to capitalism only if there is private ownership of the means of production, if labour power appears in the market as a commodity which can be bought by the capitalist and exploited in the process of production, and if, consequently, the system of exploitation of wageworkers by capitalists exists in the country. Capitalist production begins when the means of production are concentrated in private hands, and when the workers are bereft of means of production and are compelled to sell their labour power as a commodity. Without this there is no such thing as capitalist production. Well, and what is to be done if the conditions for the conversion of commodity production into capitalist production do not exist, if the means of production are no longer private but socialist property, if the system of wage labour no longer exists and labour power is no longer a commodity, and if the system of exploitation has long been abolished – can it be considered then that commodity production will lead to capitalism all the same? No, it cannot. Yet ours is precisely such a society, a society where private ownership of the means of production, the system of wage labour, and the system of exploitation have long ceased to exist. Commodity production must not be regarded as something sufficient unto itself, something independent of the surrounding economic conditions. Commodity production is older than capitalist production. It existed in slave-owning society, and served it, but did not lead to capitalism. It existed in feudal society and served it, yet, although it prepared some of the conditions for capitalist production, it did not lead to capitalism. Why then, one asks, cannot commodity production similarly serve our socialist society for a certain period without leading to capitalism, bearing in mind that in our country commodity production is not so boundless and all-embracing as it is under capitalist conditions, being confined within strict bounds thanks to such decisive economic conditions as social ownership of the means of production, the abolition of the system of wage labour, and the elimination of the system of exploitation? It is said that, since the domination of social ownership of the means of production has been established in our country, and the system of wage labour and exploitation has been abolished, commodity production has lost all meaning and should therefore be done away with. That is also untrue. Today there are two basic forms of socialist production in our country: state, or publicly-owned production, and collective-farm production, which cannot be said to be publicly owned. In the state enterprises, the means of production and the product of production are national property. In the collective farm, although the means of production (land, machines) do belong to the state, the product of production is the property of the different collective farms, since the labour, as well as the seed, is their own, while the land, which has been turned over to the collective farms in perpetual tenure, is used by them virtually as their own property, in spite of the fact that they cannot sell, buy, lease or mortgage it. The effect of this is that the state disposes only of the product of the state enterprises, while the product of the collective farms, being their property, is disposed of only by them. But the collective farms are unwilling to alienate their products except in the form of commodities, in exchange for which they desire to receive the commodities they need. At present the collective farms will not recognize any other economic relation with the town except the commodity relation – exchange through purchase and sale. Because of this, commodity production and trade are as much a necessity with us today as they were, say, thirty years ago, when Lenin spoke of the necessity of developing trade to the utmost. Of course, when instead of the two basic production sectors, the state sector and the collective-farm sector, there will be only one all-embracing production sector, with the right to dispose of all the consumer goods produced in the country, commodity circulation, with its “money economy,” will disappear, as being an unnecessary element in the national economy. But so long as this is not the case, so long as the two basic production sectors remain, commodity production and commodity circulation must remain in force, as a necessary and very useful element in our system of national economy. How the formation of a single and united sector will come about, whether simply by the swallowing up of the collective-farm sector by the state sector – which is hardly likely (because that would be looked upon as the expropriation of the collective farms) – or by the setting up of a single national economic body (comprising representatives of state industry and of the collective farms), with the right at first to keep account of all consumer product in the country, and eventually also to distribute it, by way, say, of products-exchange – is a special question which requires separate discussion. Consequently, our commodity production is not of the ordinary type, but is a special kind of commodity production, commodity production without capitalists, which is concerned mainly with the goods of associated socialist producers (the state, the collective farms, the cooperatives), the sphere of action of which is confined to items of personal consumption, which obviously cannot possibly develop into capitalist production, and which, together with its “money economy,” is designed to serve the development and consolidation of socialist production.” (Joseph Stalin, Economic Problems of the USSR)
The socialist society of the Soviet Union (1929-1956) was characterized by central economic planning, public and collective ownership of the means of production, and a dictatorship of the proletariat controlled by democratic workers organs at the grassroots levels (all used by Mao Zedong to characterize socialism). This society was replaced by Kruschev’s state capitalist policies which converted the means of production and labor into commodities to be bought and sold at full prices, and the resurgence of the profit system and market allocation of capital goods (raw materials, machinery, etc.)
However, Joseph Stalin, despite his numerous contributions towards Marxism-Leninism and Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, did have many faults, both in theory and in leadership. After the Five-Year Plans had begun and Russia was rapidly industrializing, Stalin began to show his flaws, especially in his understanding of the Party, dialectics, the masses, and class struggle.
In the 1936 Soviet Constitution, Stalin resolved that class contradictions had been eliminated in the USSR, as private property had been abolished and the necessities of life were provided to all citizens, and there was a socialist economy. However, Maoists understand this as a dangerous viewpoint to hold, as we believe that class contradictions not only continue, but even intensify, during the socialist transitional period. One of the fundamental differences between Stalin and Mao was that while Stalin focused almost entirely on the nature of the productive forces as the basis for the development of a communist society, Mao focused heavily on the relations of production, which were as intense (or even more) in the USSR, due to the preservation of commodity production in many sectors. One of the places where class struggle grows the heaviest is in the Party itself, as seen in China with the case of the colossal conflict by Maoists and Deng Xiaoping’s Rightist faction, which resulted in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution to democratize and revolutionize the workers and peasantry against the revisionists that would put China on the state-capitalist path, rather than the socialist one.
Perhaps the most irreversible flaw was Stalin’s method of collectivization. While Mao advocated for mass peasant seizure of land and participatory formation of agriculturally self-sufficient communes, Stalin chose the method of state expropriation of land, and subsequent distribution, which not alienates the peasantry, but represents a disconnected Party and leadership.
Another fundamental flaw of Stalin was his distrust of the masses in leadership. While the USSR remained democratic because of the proletarian elections to assemblies and councils at municipal and national levels, the Central Committee was often too involved in its own internal affairs to be concerned with the ideas and ideology of the masses. Maoists criticize this the most in Joseph Stalin, and resolve this problem with the mass line theory to synthesize information from the working masses (who represent the flesh and blood of socialism) and the Party (under the principles of democratic centralism), to create a truly democratic proletarian dictatorship, because democracy is not characterized by elections, but by the significance and influence of democratic institutions at the grassroots level.