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Stalin's admiration for Americanism

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Soviet cogitations: 805
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Jan 2008, 19:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 27 Oct 2009, 04:01
Stalin on American efficiency:

The style of Leninism consists in combining these two specific features in Party and state work.

Russian revolutionary sweep is an antidote to inertia, routine, conservationism, mental stagnation and slavish submission to ancient traditions. Russian revolutionary sweep is the life-giving force which stimulates thought, impels things forward, breaks the past and opens up perspectives. Without it no progress is possible.

But Russian revolutionary sweep has every chance of degenerating in practice into empty "revolutionary" Manilovism if it is not combined with American efficiency in work. Examples of this degeneration are only too numerous. Who does not know the disease of "revolutionary" scheme concocting and "revolutionary" plan drafting, which springs from the belief in the power of decrees to arrange everything and re-make everything? A Russian writer, I. Ehrenburg, in his story The Percommon (The Perfect Communist Man), has portrayed the type of a "Bolshevik" afflicted with this disease, who set himself the task of finding a formula for the ideally perfect man and...became "submerged" in this "work." The story contains a great exaggeration, but it certainly gives a correct likeness of the disease. But no one, I think, has so ruthlessly and bitterly ridiculed those afflicted with this disease as Lenin. Lenin stigmatised this morbid belief in concocting schemes and in turning out decrees as "communist vainglory."

"Communist vainglory," says Lenin, "means that a man, who is a member of the Communist Party, and has not yet been purged from it, imagines that he can solve all his problems by issuing communist decrees" (see Vol. XXVII, pp. 50-51).

Lenin usually contrasted hollow "revolutionary" phrasemongering with plain everyday work, thus emphasising that "revolutionary" scheme concocting is repugnant to the spirit and the letter of true Leninism.

" "Fewer pompous phrases, more plain, everyday work..." says Lenin.

" "Less political fireworks and more attention to the simplest but vital...facts of communist construction..." (see Vol. XXIV, pp. 343 and 335).

American efficiency, on the other hand, is an antidote to "revolutionary" Manilovism and fantastic scheme concocting. American efficiency is that indomitable force which neither knows nor recognises obstacles; which with its business-like perseverance brushes aside all obstacles; which continues at a task once started until it is finished, even if it is a minor task; and without which serious constructive work is inconceivable.

But American efficiency has every chance of degenerating into narrow and unprincipled practicalism if it is not combined with Russian revolutionary sweep. Who has not heard of that disease of narrow empiricism and unprincipled practicalism which has not infrequently caused certain "Bolsheviks" to degenerate and to abandon the cause of the revolution? We find a reflection of this peculiar disease in a story by B. Pilnyak, entitled The Barren Year, which depicts types of Russian "Bolsheviks" of strong will and practical determination who "function" very "energetically," but without vision, without knowing "what it is all about," and who, therefore, stray from the path of revolutionary work. No one has ridiculed this disease of practicalism so incisively as Lenin. He branded it as "narrow-minded empiricism" and "brainless practicalism." He usually contrasted it with vital revolutionary work and the necessity of having a revolutionary work and the necessity of having a revolutionary perspective in all our daily activities, thus emphasising that this unprincipled practicalism is as repugnant to true Leninism as "revolutionary" scheme concocting.

The combination of Russian revolutionary sweep with American efficiency is the essence of Leninism in Party and state work.

This combination alone produces the finished type of Leninist worker, the style of Leninism in work.
http://www.marxists.org/reference/archi ... m/ch09.htm

Ludwig: I notice that in the Soviet Union everything American is held in very high esteem, I might even speak of a worship of everything American, that is, of the Land of the Dollar, the most out-and-out capitalist country. This sentiment exists also in your working class, and applies not only to tractors and automobiles, but also to Americans in general. How do you explain that?

Stalin: You exaggerate. We have no especially high esteem for everything American, nut we do respect the efficiency that the Americans display in everythingÑin industry, in technology, in literature and in life. We never forget that the U.S.A. is a capitalist country. But among the Americans there are many people who are mentally and physically healthy who are healthy in their whole approach to work, to the job on hand. That efficiency, that simplicity, strikes a responsive chord in our hearts. Despite the fact that America is a highly developed capitalist country, the habits prevailing in its industry, the practices existing in productive processes, have an element of democracy about them, which cannot be said of the old European capitalist countries, where the haughty spirit of the feudal aristocracy is still alive.
http://www.marxists.org/reference/archi ... dec/13.htm
Kamran Heiss
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Soviet cogitations: 4177
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 18 Sep 2004, 16:21
Politburo
Post 28 Oct 2009, 02:30
Quote:
Stalin: You exaggerate. We have no especially high esteem for everything American, but we do respect the efficiency that the Americans display in everything industry, in technology, in literature and in life. We never forget that the U.S.A. is a capitalist country. But among the Americans there are many people who are mentally and physically healthy who are healthy in their whole approach to work, to the job on hand. That efficiency, that simplicity, strikes a responsive chord in our hearts. Despite the fact that America is a highly developed capitalist country, the habits prevailing in its industry, the practices existing in productive processes, have an element of democracy about them, which cannot be said of the old European capitalist countries, where the haughty spirit of the feudal aristocracy is still alive.

That pretty much sums up the Bolshevik attitude towards America - in 1917, America was the most progressive developed capitalist nation in the world, and the most energetic and constructive. To the Bolsheviks and to the Russian masses, America represented modernity and progress in action, and was therefore an example to be emulated. For example, Taylorism became all the rage in the Soviet Union, and formed the basis of work practices in Soviet factories. This had an effect on the arts and culture of Soviet society too - the Soviet montage cinema, while passionately supportive of the Communist cause, was aesthetically based on the fast cutting and efficiency of construction of American films. Lev Kuleshov, the inventor of film montage, even talked about his own 'disease' of 'Americanitis'. Remember, Russia was still a largely feudal society in 1917 - in that context, even American capitalism would have represented progress, scientific rationality and modernity, and would be an example to be embraced. Never having experienced feudalism, American society produced a form of capitalism which was largely free from the taint of feudalistic social attitudes which plagued European capitalism (and still does, especially in Britain).
"Comrade Lenin left us a great legacy, and we fucкed it up." - Josef Stalin
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