Letters to the American Party of Labor: If Socialism is So Great, Why Did it Collapse?

The following is a letter sent to redphoenixsite@gmail.com from alias NewDealNow.

Dear APL,

I’ve been reading your articles in The Red Phoenix for a while, and I like some of the things you have to say about Glenn Beck and attacking conservatives…but I must confess that I haven’t the faintest idea of why anyone in this day and age would champion an ideology that clearly did not work. Socialism has collapsed everywhere it has been tried, and where it hasn’t, it’s turned into a mess of totalitarian despots and broken economies. It’s obvious that some kind of market needs to take place. The country you guys like the most, Albania, is a NATO member now. Let’s face it: it didn’t work, isn’t going to work, and we need new ideas that start fresh and combine the best of both worlds. We need something to bring workers and innovators together, not tear them apart. I look forward to reading your response, and hope that some of these concerns have sunk in.

We thank you for your letter.

The APL should clarify that while we do appreciate our reader’s attention to our projects in attacking and refuting American reaction, we do not view it in terms of “liberal” or “conservative”—we are attacking capitalism-imperialism and its manifestations. Unlike others, we do not play “lesser evil” games between liberals and conservatives in the USA.

Socialism vs. Revisionism

The most significant claim made by the author is the notion that socialism collapsed before and therefore should be evaluated as a failure. This argument is the premier bourgeois weapon against socialism. In order to understand why the socialist countries collapsed, it is necessary to understand that by the time they collapsed they could no longer be called socialist. In a word, revisionism triumphed. This is the tragedy of the history of Marxism. The term “revisionism,” when applied to a country, organization or political line of thought, means revising the fundamentals of Marxism to the point where it is no longer revolutionary. Marxism has changed and corrected since the time of Marx in order to adapt to new conditions, but the foundations have remained the same. Revisionism, however, means to degenerate Marxism into bourgeois metaphysics and ultimately capitalism. Most of the problems the bourgeoisie attest to 20th century socialism (stagnating economies, collapses) were actually the fault of 20th century revisionism. Ceauşescu’s Romania had many shortages, while those that stuck to the ideology of Marxism had few to none. These problems emerged when the countries in question stepped off the socialist path, not on it. Revisionism fails, but Leninism works.

The capitalist scholars claimed that the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc proved the failure of socialism. For this to be true, the class nature of the state and system of ownership in these countries would have had to be socialist at the time of collapse. The assumption here is that those countries remained the same from their establishment all the way until the 1980s and 1990s. In fact, the socialist construction experienced in the Soviet Union as the country of the first successful proletarian revolution and in Eastern European countries where, after World War II, regimes of people’s democracy were established, was derailed by revisionism. Countries such as China, Cuba, South Yemen and Angola claimed they were socialist, but the proletariat in those countries had never become organized as the hegemonic class in power, nor had the production relations reached a path of socialist development.

Many say capitalism was restored in the Gorbachev Era, but it was much earlier.

The Soviet Union and Albania were the models of socialist nations, in that Marxism-Leninism was consistently applied for most of their existence and they maintained the class struggle against their bourgeoisie instead of entering into alliance with them. However, the central planning and state ownership in the USSR did not remain unchanged from the 1950s, nor did the capitalist restoration and transition to a market economy only take place during the reign of Gorbachev. The rise of the Khrushchevites to power in the USSR marked the beginning of the degeneration of Soviet socialism. Central planning and state ownership were undermined, and would later be abolished completely after the Liberman and Kosygin reforms in 1965, which marked the final nail in the coffin for the dictatorship of the proletariat in the USSR. Socialism Did Work

The socialist camp did collapse, but it endured for a very long period of time. Bourgeois economists predicted that the collapse of socialism would happen immediately after its foundations and outset—this did not happen. The socialist system was able to build a world superpower and endure for decades, defeat a military juggernaut that was able to walk right through Europe and produce a planned economy with working industry, collectivized agriculture and a livable life for the entire population.

Albania was the only country where the process of socialism was uninterrupted until the 1980s, despite unimaginable difficulties. Albania kicked out the fascist troops of both Hitler and Mussolini without foreign assistance, doubled life expectancy, electrified the entire country, established socialist relations of production, abolished taxes, provided free health care and education up to the highest level, industrialized despite the fact that it was a tribal society until 1950s, abolished honor killings (which now account for over 25% of all Albanian deaths), abolished sex slavery of women, stood up to both American imperialism and Soviet revisionism equally, lead the longest-lasting socialist state in human history, established working class control and elections over production centers, brought illiteracy down from 90-95% to on the level of the United States, and so on and so forth forever. Many of the same gains were also achieved in the socialist period of the USSR. “Totalitarianism”

The American Party of Labor does not recognize any such political or economic system as “totalitarianism.” For more on this, read this article: The Myth of “Totalitarianism.”

Ironically, the liberal criticism of Marxism as dogma based on faith and not logic, or of Marxism as “totalitarian,” is essentially saying that other ideologies, conveniently including liberalism and capitalism, are not so-called “totalitarian,” but grounded in material reality and completely uninfluenced by preconceived theorization. In other words, this theory is similar to the religious notion of all other religions being lies.

Economic Stagnation?

Is this accusation accurate? In reality, the Soviet economy was not stagnating when it out-produced every country in WWII with the production of tanks, firearms and light infantry, nor was the Albanian economy ever stagnating during the Marxist-Leninist period. The stagnation only came with the advent of capitalism. Official statistics verified by British economists show that between 1951 and 1985 in Albania:

Agricultural production increased by 4.5 times;

Retail sales per head of population: 5.5 times;

Industrial production increased by 16.2 times;

Chrome production increased by 30.9 times;

Electric power production increased by 217.1 times;

Chemical production increased by 585.8 times;

(‘Statistical Yearbook of the PSR of Albania 1988’; Tirana; 1988; p.: 81, 87, 122).

In addition, from the book Stalinist Economic Strategy in Practice: the Case of Albania by Adi Schnytzer:

Growth indices for the Albanian economy (1938=1)

Gross domestic material product

1950 – 1.7

1960 – 4.0

1970 – 8.3

1973 – 10.7

Global agricultural production

1950 – 1.2

1960 – 1.7

1970 – 3.1

1973 – 3.5

Global industrial production

1950 – 4

1960 – 25

1970 – 64

1973 – 86

Retail trade turnover

1950 – 1.4

1960 – 6

1970 – 10

1973 – 13

Population (millions)

1950 – 1.20

1960 – 1.60

1970 – 2.14

1973 – 2.30

“From the table [presented above] it is clear that the Albanian economy has sustained rapid economic growth since 1950.” The author adds it is surprising that the successes of the Albanian economy have not been more thoroughly catalogued by Western scholars. On page 64 of that same book:

Output and Productivity in Industry

Global industrial production (million leks [Albanian currency] in 1971 prices)

1950 – 461

1955 – 1,275

1960 – 2,781

1963 – 3,385

1970 – 7,104

1973 – 9,608

1975 – 10,798

Industrial labour [sic] force

1950 – 16,337

1955 – 28,964

1960 – 48,074

1963 – 66,941

1970 – 106,223

1973 – 121,602

1975 – 133,437

Labour [sic] productivity (leks/man)

1950 – 28,219

1955 – 44,020

1960 – 57,848

1963 – 50,567

1970 – 66,878

1973 – 79,012

1975 – 80,992The Ebbs and Flows of Revolution

There are those who say that because there are no socialist countries in the world today, then our ideas have “lost,” which is the position taken by the author of the above letter.

Marxism-Leninism is based upon dialectical materialism, the science of human development. It is a scientific outlook that analyzes the development of civilization and the structure of matter. It sees the unity and the struggle between opposites and opposing forces and the struggle between classes and modes of production (feudalism, capitalism, etc). This eternal struggle, which is the cause of what we call change, does not move in a straight line. The period of the transition from capitalism to socialism and then socialism to communism is not a period of smooth, perfect, linear transition. It is a period rife with contradiction, conflict, uncertainty, chaos and struggle. History moves in ebbs and flows, in zigs and zags.

As Enver Hoxha said, “The struggle of the proletariat against the. bourgeoisie is a stem, merciless struggle which goes on continuously. Confronting each other stand two great social forces. On the one side stands the capitalist-imperialist bourgeoisie, which is the most ferocious, deceitful and blood-thirsty class known to history. On the other side stands the proletariat, the class totally dispossessed of means of production, ruthlessly oppressed and exploited by the bourgeoisie, which is at the same time the most advanced class of society which thinks, creates, works and produces, but does not enjoy the fruits of its toil.” In this grand battle of classes, there can be no assurance that the proletariat will win everywhere and always. To say otherwise is pure Utopia.

It took hundreds of years for capitalism to finally conquer feudalism in order to secure itself as an international, global system of production. In addition, the correct scientific line does not guarantee that a group, party, class or country wins every fight and struggle 100% of the time no matter the circumstances. Regardless, it is the APL’s position that the accomplishments of Albania under constant pressure from the British, the Americans, the Greeks, the Yugoslavs and the Italian and German fascists, and later even the Soviets and the Chinese, were truly remarkable and a model for all. The Loss of Albania

As for the loss in Albania, it has come under attack from capitalists and revisionists everywhere. This line of attack, which can be roughly summed up as, “If Albania was so amazing, then why did it collapse?” is of course repeated by anti-Marxists and revisionists ad nauseum. They lost, therefore they must be wrong. This is the “thought” of these people.

This argument reveals much more about our opponents than it reveals about us, since it shows that opponents of the American Party of Labor have no arguments other than what the bourgeoisie says—that socialism is not superior because it collapsed. It also reveals they have no arguments other than the one that negates all of Marxism, since all socialist countries that have existed have collapsed.

The causes of the collapse were not simple. Albania was the last socialist nation in the world. It was alone, and in addition to sabotage and foreign pressure which helped to the revisionists to rise and destroy socialism, there was a coup against Ramiz Alia and Hoxha’s wife that had them arrested and exiled. In 1997 the Albanians tried to overthrow the capitalist Democratic Party under the reactionary Sali Berisha. Conditions have worsened considerably under capitalist rule in Albania, so much so that the Communist Party managed to occupy the entire southern half before NATO troops were called in to crush the rebellion.

Does Liberalism “Work?”

Let us apply this method to this author’s own ideology. What this person would seem to suggest he advocates with his alias “NewDealNow,” is in fact something that has itself been shown to be a complete failure. Right now there is widespread poverty, massive warfare and starvation in the world. So clearly, liberalism is not able to provide even the most basic needs for survival for the vast majority of the human race. When one works within a system, one subjects oneself to that system’s rules. The rule of liberalism is that those with capital hold the power. Even when some redistributive economic policies are allowed by the owners of society, such reforms are easily and frequently undone. Liberal governments themselves are also quite capable of collapsing.

Finally, the APL would say that Marxism-Leninism does not “tear classes apart” as the author suggests. The people are divided into antagonistic classes already. Our goal is to create a society that will eliminate classes.

Stay Tuned for More Reader Responses

We of the American Party of Labor would like to remind our readers that we are open to any questions. We will answer your questions to the fullest extent possible.

Categories: Albania, China, Editorials, Former Eastern Bloc, History, International, Revolutionary History, Russia, Science, Soviet Union (USSR), Theory, Workers Struggle

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