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Tuesday, 28 August 2018 17:15
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170 years of the Manifesto of the Communist Party and the socio-economic model in contemporary Russia

(LLCT) - 170 years ago, Marx and Engels gave birth to the Manifesto of the Communist Party, creating a turning point in the history of Marxism and the communist movement worldwide. V.I. Lenin stated that: “This little booklet is worth whole volumes: to this day its spirit inspires and guides the entire organised and fighting proletariat of the civilised world”.

Over the past 170 years, many people have tried to prove the Manifesto to be out-dated and no longer capable of reflecting the most important development laws. These efforts have been useless. As Lenin emphasized, the work of Marx and Engels “...is correct in all fundamental things, as fresh and vital as if it were written yesterday”. The Manifesto’s ideas have not lost their relevance, because they are the result of a materialistic worldview and of objective social development laws, including the following: Firstly, in any historical era, economic production creates the foundation of the political history of that era; Secondly, the whole history of humankind is a history of class struggle - the struggle between the exploited and the exploiters; Thirdly, production forces have gone beyond the framework of the productive relations of capitalism, thereby restraining its development.

The pathway towards solving this problem is socialist revolution and proletarian dictatorship. Furthermore, as Marx and Engels clearly pointed out, unlike with the previous historical socio-economic models, now “the exploited and oppressed class - the proletariat - cannot attain its emancipation from the sway of the exloiting and ruling class - the bourgeoisie - without, that the same time, and once for all, emancipating society at large from all exploitation, oppression, class-distinction and class struggles”.

The study of the characteristics of the capitalist system through the review of its establishment process plays an important part in the Manifesto. According to Marx and Engels, the result of the long-term development of capitalism is that it has acceded to the ruling position in the contemporary state: “The excecutive of the modern state is nothing but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie”.

This idea is still relevant in the current social system. Except for some countries that remain consistent with the development model of socialism (China, Vietnam, Cuba and some others), in the vast majority of world countries, the bourgeoisie maintains full power. It holds in its hands the economic and political management levers, and at the same time establishes a cultural and ideological hegemony.

In the Manifesto, Marx and Engels made an important point when stating that the continuous expansion of capitalism is a distinctive feature and an indispensable condition of its own existence: “The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, and establish connexions everywhere”. “It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to what it calls civilization into the midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image”.

In reality, in the early 20th century, capitalism put the whole world under its rule and entered an imperialist stage. However, the Great Russian October Revolution struck directly into the capitalist system. The October Revolution victory established the government of the proletariat, forming a socialist system worldwide with one third of the population and more than 40% of the world’s industrial output. 

The appearance of the socialist system has restrained the expansion of capitalism, but the nature of capitalism has not changed. The global bourgeoisie has set all its forces to undermining socialism. The disintegration of the Soviet Union and the masses of the socialist countries has opened up a new period of the expansion of capitalism, mostly manifested by the process of non-industrialization and the creation of dependent economic models, transforming the former socialist countries into sources of raw materials and markets for products of the “first world”. Foreign capital prevailing in key industries and massive exports of profits abroad have made the economies of the former Soviet Union, including the Russian Federation exhausted, “anaemic” and lacking funds for development.

For the Russian Federation, this situation still persists today. Currently, the proportion of foreign capital in economic sectors such as fuel, mining, engineering, metallurgy and communication accounts for 40 to 95%. The level of dependence on imports is very high; some estimates suggest that two thirds of firms depend significantly on imports of equipment and services. Foreign machinery and equipment are widely used in all industries. The Russian Federation is 100% dependent on imports of mining machinery, airframes, automatic gearboxes, electric motors for machines, generators for diesel locomotives, etc. In the field of food, in the first half of 2017, Russia imported food and agricultural materials worth USD 14 billion, an increase of 15.5% compared to the same period in 2016.

The Russian economy depends on the exploitation and export of raw materials; the share of the manufacturing industry in GDP accounts for less than 15%. The capitals flows abroad still show no signs of decreasing and reached USD 30 billion by the end of 2017 - three times higher when compared to the same period in 2016. Only in the post-Soviet period, over 60 trillion roubles were transferred abroad.

As a part of the capitalist system in the position of peripheral materials, the Russian Federation cannot avoid being impacted by the movement of world economy, especially the frequent economic crises; as Marx and Engels mention in the Manifesto, “commercial crises are cyclical and increasingly threaten the whole of the bourgeois society”.

Marx and Engels regard cyclical business crises as a sign of the general crisis of capitalism, whose core is the conflict between production forces and production relations. Capitalism has led to the observation that socialized production is increasing while the outcome remains the accumulation of individual property. According to Marx and Engels, the contradiction between capitalist ownership and the socialization of production is irreconcilable: “The productive forces available in society do not motivate the bourgeois possessive relations to develop further. On the contrary, they have become too powerful for that possession, the possessive relationship that is hindering their development; and whenever the social productive forces overcome that obstruction, they push the entire bourgeois society into turmoil, and threaten the survival of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeois relations have become too narrow and too weak to contain the wealth accumulated by it”. This point of Marxism has faced a number of attacks and criticisms from opposition ideologists, who have claimed that capitalism is still developing today and is showing no signs of extinction as predicted by Marx and Engels.

In fact, the authors of the Manifesto have made a correct evaluation of the nature and future of the capitalist system over decades. For them, capitalism will still maintain the hegemony, “by occupying new markets and further exploiting the old markets”, but at the same time, the bourgeoisie will create “more comprehensive and formidable crises”.

Currently, social inequalities along with the growing gap between the rich and the poor are becoming increasingly serious. According to the statistics of a study by Oxfarm International, the capital accumulation has reached the following level: the world’s 62 richest people currently hold assets equal to half of the total assets of nearly four billion of the poorest people in the world. Moreover, this distance is constantly increasing, leading to the absolute poverty of the working people.

The increasing gap between rich and poor people is also a pressing issue for the Russian Federation. In 2017, Russia’s 27 richest people enhanced their total property from 28 billion US dollars to 275 billion. Meanwhile, the income of the majority of the Russian people continued to decrease; in 2017, this number was lowered by 1.5% compared to 2016, and by nearly 20% compared to 2014, bringing the income of the majority of population back to the same level as 2009.  Those with working abilities are the most affected. 12 million Russian people living under the poverty line belong to the workforce. Capitalism has deprived people of the right to work, increasing the unemployment rate in society. This fact completely matches the prediction of the Manifesto: “The wage - labourer appropreate by means of his labour, merely suffices to prolong and reproduce a bare existence”.

The Communist Party of the Russian Federation considers the protection of the rights of the working class as a top priority. The Sixth Plenary Session of the Central Party in October 2014 on the work of Communist Party members in the proletariat set the goal of consolidating the Party’s vanguard role in the working class. The 17th Congress continued to emphasize that the Communist Party of the Russian Federation must be self-confident in expressing its distinguishing feature of a working-class party. To achieve this goal, the task is to develop a significant proportion of workers in the Party line, to increase the representatives of the working class in important tasks. “Activities of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation to reinforce the Party’s influence in the proletariat require the leading task of the Party’s deputies and members at all levels to ensure the legitimate rights and interests of employees” as mentioned in the resolution of the 17th Congress: “Struggle for the benefits of the working class”.

The warnings by Marx and Engels on the intention of “improving capitalism” are still valid in the context of contemporary Russia, while parties of “United Russia”, “A Just Russia”, as well as some other parties and movements are trying “to unify what cannot be unified”, i.e., capitalism and interests of the working people.

The ideology of the unavoidable extinction of capitalism, replaced by socialism, can be seen throughout the Manifesto, starting with the “transformation of the proletariat into the ruling class, reclaiming civil rights”. This mission is placed on the shoulder of the working class and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation -the vanguard of the Russian proletariat.

However, it should be noted that Marxism is not a rigid, dogmatic doctrine; there exists no common formula or unique path for all countries to reach socialism. This requires from communists in each country to be creative and to search for new fighting methods and the best course of action in the current context. All these aim at abolishing the capitalist system, then, “In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all”. In that journey, the Communist Manifesto is still the lodestar of Russia’s progressive forces as well as the whole world’s.


Dr., D.G. Novikov

Deputy Chairman of the Central Committee

of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation,

Deputy Chairman of the State Duma International Affairs Committee


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