Although the most important step towards obtaining the means of production from the hands of exploiters is, as we have seen above, the proletarian nationalisation of banks, nevertheless, if in industry, in factories and works, the power of capitalists will still be maintained, no very desirable results would have been achieved. These enterprises would draw such sums as they required from the bank, and the capitalists would calmly go on exploiting their workers, and would even manage to beg for State subsidies to be spent on all kinds of things. And therefore a transition to a Communist order, which is unattainable without the nationalisation of banks, is just as unattainable without the proletarian nationalisation of all large industrial enterprises.
In, this direction, too, the working class and our party are taking such steps to enable us not only to break with the old, taking the reins of production out of the hands of capitalists, but to create a new standard of relations. That is why the nationalisation of industry must begin with large enterprises, namely, in the first place with the so-called syndicates.
What is syndicated industry (industries united in syndicates)? Syndicates are huge industrial combines. When capitalist owners of various enterprises see that it is not worth their while to compete for each others clients, and that it is far more profitable to form a close union for the purpose of jointly fleecing the public, they organise syndicates or still closer combines of manufacturers, namely – trusts. When promoters are not united in such unions, each one tries to bring down the prices of his rival: each one wishes to w r in over his competitor’s client, and this can only be done if he sells goods cheaper, thus ultimately ruining his rival, who is unable to withstand the competition. This sort of struggle between the rich manufacturers invariably leads to the ruin of the smaller man: the big sharks of capitalism and the richest manufacturers come out victorious. Let us now suppose that in some one branch of industry (say the metallurgic) three or four big firms remain. If one of them is stronger it carries on the struggle until the rest are ruined. But supposing that their powers are approximately the same, then it is evident that a mutual struggle is fruitless: it will result in the exhaustion of all the rivals to an equal extent. In such cases we generally see an attempt to come to an understanding; they organise a union of these enterprises and make an agreement not to sell their goods below a fixed price; they distribute the orders among themselves, or appoint one firm to do business in one part of the country and another firm in another; in a word, they amicably divide the market between themselves. As the firms united into a syndicate usually supply much more than half the products required for a given area, that means that the syndicate dominates over the market, and that the directors of the syndicates can fix very high prices and fleece their buyers like sheep. But once they join a union it is natural that they are compelled to form a joint board of management for the formerly separate enterprises and to keep a strict account of all the goods produced, to organise the distribution of orders, in a word, they are compelled to organise production. Not for the people, not for the sake of the buyer’s advantage. Oh, no! Only for their own profits and gains, and for the sake of over-charging the worker and fleecing the buyer: that is the real purpose for which capitalists form their unions.
It has now been made clear why the working class must first of all proceed to nationalise those branches of production which are syndicated. It is because such branches have ah been organised by the capitalists, and such production. when organised by capitalists, is easiest to deal with. It is, of course, necessary somewhat to modify the capitalist organisations, ridding them of the most obdurate enemies of the working class; we must strengthen the position of the workers in such a way that everything should be subjected to the workers; and, in the process, abolish certain things altogether. Even a child can understand why such companies are easiest to conquer. Here the same thing is repeated as in the case of Government railroads; being organised by a bourgeois Government, their management was, for that very reason, worked on a principle of centralisation, and it was easier for the Workers’ Government to take them into its own hands.
In Western Europe (especially in Germany) and in the United States of America, practically the whole of production during the time of the war has fallen into the hands of the plundering bourgeois Government. The bourgeoisie decided that it would never attain a victory unless the war was conducted in accordance with the latest dictates of science. And modern warfare demands not only expenditure of money, but necessitates all production to be organised for the purpose of the war, a strict account being registered of everything, so that there be no waste and all things be correctly distributed. All this is possible when there is a central united management. It is needless to say that production is not organised for the benefit of the working class, but only for the purpose of conducting the war and of affording the bourgeoisie still more chances of enriching themselves. No wonder, then, that at the head of this system of penal servitude there stand generals, bankers, and the greatest exploiters. Nor is it surprising that the working class in those countries are oppressed and turned into white slaves or serfs. But, on the other hand, if the workers there succeed in shattering the machinery of the bourgeois State, it will be quite easy for them to take possession of the means of production and arrange it on a new plan; they will have to drive the generals and bankers out, and put their own men every- where; but they will be able to use that apparatus for checking and control that has been created for them by the vultures of capitalism. That is why it is infinitely harder for the Western European workers to begin destroying the most powerful of bourgeois States, but it will be also much easier to conclude the task, having at their disposal the means of production organised by the bourgeoisie.
The Russian bourgeoisie, seeing that its power was not very secure, and that the proletariat was near a victory, was afraid to start decisively along the road traced by the Western European bourgeoisie. It understood that, together with the Government power, organised production would fall into the hands of the working class. And therefore the Russian bourgeoisie not only did not care to improve its organisation, but, on the contrary, strove to disorganise, and at the time of Kerensky, had recourse to sabotage as a means of ruining production.
However, it is to be noted that, even prior to the war, in Russia, partly owing to foreign capital, the most important spheres of industry were already syndicated. This especially applies to the so-called heavy branches of industry (coal mining, metallurgic industry, etc.). It is this heavy industry that must be nationalised first (and this is already being done: production in the Ural district, for instance, being practically entirely nationalised). After that, the whole of big production should be nationalised. Together with the transfer of big industry into the hands of the Workers’ Government, the less important industries will also become dependent on the Government, because very many lesser industries depended to a great extent on the greater ones even before any nationalisation took place. Sometimes these smaller firms are no more than branches of larger concerns, depending on them for orders. In other cases they supply their produce to the larger concerns; in others they depend on them for supplies of raw material; sometimes they depend on the banks, and so on. Together with the nationalisation of banks and of large industry, they immediately become dependent in some way or other upon nationalised production. Of course, there will still remain a number of small owners and proprietors of small home industries, etc. There are a great number of such in Russia. But, nevertheless, the basis of our industry is not the above named workshops, but the large-scale industry, and the nationalisation by the Workers’ Government of this kind of production deals capitalism an irreparable blow. The banks and large scale industry are the two main fortresses of capitalism. Their expropriation, that is to say, their seizure by the working class and the Workers’ Government, marks the end of capitalism and the beginning of Socialism. The means of production, that principal basis of human existence, is thereby taken out of the hands of a small number of exploiters and transferred into the hands of the working class and the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government.
The Mensheviks and the Right Wing Socialist Revolutionaries, who do not wish to deviate one step from capitalism, and who are going hand in hand with the bourgeoisie, are opposed to any kind of nationalisation by the Soviet Government. That is because they are fully aware, as well as the bourgeoisie, that by nationalisation a severe blow is dealt into the very heart of the capitalist order, so dear to them. They deliberately deceive the workers with tales of our “immaturity” for Socialism, of our industry being in a backward state, of it being quite impossible to organise, and so on.
We have already seen that this is not the case at all. The backwardness of Russia is not in the small number of large enterprises – on the contrary, we have quite a number of such. Its backwardness consists in the fact that the whole of our industry occupies too little place in comparison with the vast areas of our rural districts. But in spite of this we must not belittle the importance of our industry, for it is a significant fact that the working class is carrying all the vital elements of the Revolution along with it.
There is another curious circumstance to be noted. All the time when the Government was in the hands of the bourgeoisie, Mensheviks and Right Wing Socialist Revolutionaries, these latter drew up a programme of Government regulation of industry. They did not then lament over the backwardness of our country. At that time they considered it possible to organise industry. What is the reason for such change in opinion? It is simple enough. The Mensheviks and Right Wing Socialist Revolutionaries hold it necessary for the bourgeois State to organise production (in Western Europe this would be agreed to by Wilhelm, George and President Wilson); the party of the Communists, on the contrary, wants production to be organised by a proletarian Government. The thing is indeed simplicity itself. It is the same story all over again. The Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries want to revert to capitalism; the Communists are going ahead to Socialism and Communism, and the most important step on the road towards Communism they consider to be the nationalisation of banks and the nationalisation of large-scale production.
Last updated on 7.8.2008