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One of the features of their life was the system of re partition of tenure that is these peasants had no sense that any plot of land belonged to them except for their garden plots and not even the communist government under Stalin. There take away the garden plots from the peasants but apart from the garden plots the land didn't belong to anyone in particular they believed and should be tilled collectively. And so from times immemorial and so far as we can tell Russian peasants clung to a system whereby every three or five or seven years the whole village would get together and decide how to redistribute the land tilled by the various families in the commune. According to the number of working hands in each family so that you had a collectivist form of agriculture in Russia and a sort of social democracy at the height of this other system of serfdom and private landownership this is quite a paradox in Russian history yet it existed
now as many of you know in 1861 the circs of Russia were liberated by the Emancipation Proclamation of our Alexander the second and the communes remain. As a form of administration and the Russian agrarian Socialist said well we already have a form of socialism in Russia these communes have existed for centuries among us and let us use these communes then as the nucleus for agrarian socialism in Russia and Skitt capitalism all together. Now they knew they couldn't skip the industrial system. When I say capitalism escaped capitalism that does not mean that they wanted Russia to remain untouched by industry but they felt that industrialization in Russia could take the same road as the agricultural economy there just as they were peasant associations in the commune so there would be workers associations workers communes that would run factories in the
same way that the peasants collectively Rande their own calm you know property. Well I won't go further with this agrarian socialism except to point out that its leaders such as Cheney share skier and later the sociologist Mihailo of ski love Rob and many others were the chief competitors of Marx and socialism and before Marx's ideas could have any success in Russia. Marx Marx's ideas had to do battle with the grammarian socialism the agrarian socialists of Russia were not anti Marxist in fact they respected Marx a great deal but what they said in effect was this. That Marxism simply is not relevant to Russia. Marxism is talking about the advanced parts of the industrial western Europe where capitalism has already taken hold so that whether Marx is right or wrong about Western Europe and Western civilization has nothing to do with Russia. We Russians have to have our own form
of socialism within our own traditions and this is it. I might say that it was only as a Russian and Baron and began to look more like the Western environment of Western industrial capitalism that the ideas of the agrarian socialists fell and that the ideas of Marx and socialism achieved supremacy. Well going down the list there are certain other forms of socialism Christian Socialism was especially popular in the German speaking countries Germany and Austria and Christian Socialism is associated particularly with the Roman Catholic Church. One of its founders was an archbishop and a Baron Von Kettler. The idea was to bring together forms of social organization of the workers under the 9 leadership of the church. There were other socialists who call this simply a coverup for capitalism to keep the workers docile and well-trained and
keep them from being revolutionaries. Where I think this is a libel of the Christian Socialist Fabian Socialism is the a peculiar form of English socialism anything English I suppose is peculiar. It's different from what goes on in the continent or on this side. Fabian Socialism is associated with the last quarter of the 19th century in the beginning of the 20th. We still have Fabian socialists among us that they have made their mark on especially the left wing of the Labor Party in Britain. The basic idea of Fabian socialism is that the transition from capitalism to socialism would be gradual and peaceful. It started in the fall of 1883 when a group met a group that had disagreed with the earlier democratic federation or social democratic federation set up in 1881 by pro marxists the socialists who later were caught Fabian's disagreed with the Marxists over
especially two points they disagreed that the revolutionary change from capitalism to socialism would come about in the foreseeable future and also they were made uncomfortable by the what they called the new Marxist tendency to ignore the spiritual side of life or to disregard the ethical changes necessary to render a different social system possible. I suppose underneath all these words is the idea that Marx feud socialism was for then too mechanical an interpretation of historical processes that it tended to look upon human history as an mechanical evolution of processes rather than as the activity of men working for themselves. On November 7th 1893 the group passed the following resolution quote the members of the society assert that the competitive system assures the happiness and comfort of the few at the expense of the
suffering of the many and that society must be reconstituted in such a manner as to secure the general welfare and happiness and quality in January 4th 1884 the society became formally organized and under the name the Fabian Society and the program says for the right moment. You must wait as Fabian did Fabio's the Roman general that fought Hannibal most patiently when warring against Hannibal the many sane shared his delays. But when the time comes you must strike hard as baby is dead or your waiting will be in vain and fruitless. One of the members the famous H.G. Wells later reminded everyone as a historian the general Fabian's never did strike hard even when he struck but that's another question. The program of 1887 of the Fabian Society says this. The Fabian Society consists of socialists. It
therefore aims at the reorganization of society by the emancipation of land and industrial capital from individual and class ownership and the vesting of them in the community for the general benefit. In this way only can the natural and acquired advantages of the country be equitably shared by the whole people and of the Fabian Society as noted especially by the brilliance of its members. It attracted brilliant young people I've mentioned George Bernard Shaw who spent a good deal of his life writing for the Fabian Socialists. It included that very interesting and productive couple. Sidney and Beatrice Webb both of them fine economists who wrote a great deal I'm afraid most of us know only of their somewhat silly book about the Soviet Union which they visited in the 1930s but they wrote literally dozens of classical works. That deserved even more attention. As I
pointed out H.G. Wells drawing them Ramsay MacDonald the author that I talked about this morning GDH Cole joining them as well. I will say much about from the career of the comics there but it was very popular in France and in the Western Cape in Brussels in Belgium and in Western Germany and was an idea of affecting socialism through trade unions. This is rather different from the trade union movement in the United States. You will recognize that trade unionism the United States was quite different from some of European trade unionism on several points. First of all American trade unionism has avoided. Political allegiances though on occasion American trade unions will favor one candidate over another. It is not necessarily one party over another that they will favor trade
unionism in America has felt that it would be freest if it stayed away from out of state out of political life and was able to influence all political parties whereas trade unionism in Europe became in fact in many countries another form of political life such as the Labor Union Labor Party in Britain and also that trade unionism in America has traditionally meant the desire for improvement of the standard of living and the legal position of workers. Social reforms whereas trade unionism in some of its more extreme aspects in Europe has meant the actual revolutionary change of society and the use of trade unions for this purpose. So syndicalism to use its French term of trade unionism of that time is also a road to socialism. Finally let's not forget that Hitler and Mussolini were socialists. This fascism is state socialism and Mussolini especially
was very much a socialist in his youth and continued to be a socialist all his life. But a corporate state socialist rather than a tendency of communes anarchism German social democracy. I has a very complicated history but I don't want to go into here. It is associated in its beginnings in the middle of the 19th century largely with a very gifted man fer good night and last fall and when he died in the tradition was carried on by Bill him leap connect and Babe Blair both of whom were very much Marxists in in their philosophies and in their program. However there was a heretic among them Edvard banished. I want to talk about bandstand a bit especially since we're going to need to refer to him later. Dang Stein is has been
known as the arch heretic of Marxism. He came out of the Marxist tradition and he agreed with Marx in the round generally but it was where he specifically disagreed with Karl Marx that he was associated with one of the great heresies of Modern Marxism. And in a sense Bernstein Rides Again these days because one sees echoes of Ben Stein not only in teetotalism But what's going on in Czechoslovakia what's going on in the Soviet Union as well. Let me go straight to Barrett Stein himself. The Preface to his book on evolutionary socialism I set myself against the notion that we have to expect shortly a collapse of the bourgeois economy and that social democracy should be induced by the prospect of such an imminent great social catastrophe to adapt its tactics to that assumption that I
maintain most emphatically the adherents of this theory of a catastrophe in the German broke. Base it especially on the conclusions of the Communist Manifesto. This is a mistake in every respect. The theory which the Communist Manifesto sets forth that the evolution of modern society was correct as far as it characterized the general tendencies of that evolution. But it was mistaken in several specific deductions above all in the estimate of the time the evolution would take place. And this last has been un reservedly acknowledged by Friedrich Engels himself the Joint author with Marx of the manifesto. I thought I'd read you at least this part to give you some flavor of bearing Stan's own writings. It gets tougher as you go along and he gets into some of the
economic intricacies of the Marxian outlook and therefore I thought that I would simply reduce as much as I can a bare inch down to the following five or six propositions. The first one you've heard already that the collapse of capitalism is not around the corner. The capitalism is here to stay for a long time. And so it's wrong for the socialist to to adopt attitudes and organisations as though revolution were around the corner. It is not. For the Marquis says the communist manifesto is right in its general tendencies but is definitely wrong in estimating the time the evolution of capitalism would take place. Further Mark says band class conflict between the exploiters and the exploited is not as great as Karl Marx said it
was. For one thing Karl Marx said that the number of capitalists would decrease since it was in the nature of capitalism the dog eat dog. Eventually said Marx the more efficient capitalists would get rid of the less efficient capitalists by taking up their businesses through mergers and whatnot. As a matter of fact we see this going on all the time in our own society. But Marx concluded from this that the number of capitalists would therefore grow smaller whereas bench time saw even in his time and we certainly see this today that despite all of these mergers and dog eating dog the number of capitalists actually is greater today than it was 10 15 20 or a hundred years ago. So the class of capitalists is not decreasing but increasing and the middle class is not just melting away. And between the two grindstones of the workers and the
capitalists on top. The middle class is here to stay for some time said Bandstand. Furthermore the concentration of productive vector industry is not taking place equally. For example it's very slow in agriculture. Also there has been a definite strain of reformism says banks. People have reacted against the evils of capitalism. Even the capitalists themselves have done this. And so capitalism has been and is reforming and they reform capitalism is quite different from the capitalism that Karl Marx on England in the 1840s let us say a great deal of reform legislation has taken place to make capitalism a much better system for all concerned. Furthermore said Benj than and this is a very important point. We have at least in Western civilization the rise of political democracy. And this political democracy has been extended to the
workers as well. Remember that in the Mother of Parliaments in England say around 1830 only the barest minority of people could vote. And if this was so even in England one can imagine what it must have been like in other countries. But as the 19th century rolled on the right of suffrage was extended to millions and millions of people and workers that had not had it before. And so bench times concluded that if capitalism is here to stay a long time if there is reform in the air if there is a possibility of changing the society through legal political means through political democracy then why talk as though revolution were a necessity in around the corner. We're going to have a gradual evolutionary change to socialism. Why not this. This was the arch heresy of communism for the last 50 or so years. And what interests me so
much is that we're finding this heresy now becoming orthodoxy in many communist countries. I think the whole policy of peaceful coexistence in the Soviet Union is based on the idea that capitalism is here to stay for a long time that revolution isn't around the corner or listening to Marshal Tito when he said just as King Frederick of Prussia supposed to have said along with many others that there are many ways to God in many ways they haven't. So Tito is now saying there are many ways to socialism in my own house right here in Madison I had a highly placed Yugoslav socialist and official of the Yugoslav government say to me why you Americans already have a kind of socialism and you'll have a better socialism Some than we have because we started from nothing whereas you're starting the way Karl Marx predicted from a society of abundance. So you're going to have it much better than we have it you'll get there before we do. Well this is what's being said by not only Yugoslav communists these days
you've been listening to Professor Michael B Petrovich of the University of Wisconsin as he delivered the second of two lectures on the evolution of non Marxian socialism. Next week a discussion of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. These lectures are drawn from the 1967 Wisconsin Alumni seminar on the theory and practice of communism. They're arranged for radio by W.H. in the University of Wisconsin. I can almost speaking. This is the national educational radio network.
The theory and practice of communism
Evolution of Non-Marxian Socialism
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University of Wisconsin
WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Producing Organization: University of Wisconsin
Producing Organization: WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
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University of Maryland
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Chicago: “The theory and practice of communism; Evolution of Non-Marxian Socialism,” 1968-04-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 28, 2023,
MLA: “The theory and practice of communism; Evolution of Non-Marxian Socialism.” 1968-04-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 28, 2023. <>.
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