'An Experiment that Failed'?
More than half a century ago, young men and women of this writer's generation were attracted towards Marxism-Leninism. Highly impressed as we were by the epoch-making victories of the First Five-Year Plan in the Soviet Union in the midst of the most serious crisis in the history of world capitalism, we would have been scandalised to hear that socialist construction in the USSR was an 'experiment*. The implied suggestion that the course undertaken by the Soviet comrades might fail was then unthinkable for us.
Today, however, talks are going on that not only have the socialist experiments in the USSR and Eastern Europe failed, but world socialism has collapsed. Adversaries of the socialist movement argue chat, far from the Soviet Union being the starting point of humanity's transition from capitalism to socialism, the socialist countries in Eastern Europe including the Soviet Union have begun their march from socialism to capitalism. From this they go on to add that the theory of Marxism-Leninism itself has failed.
We Marxist-Leninists are above all realists and, as realists, we concede that the recent events in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union are a major setback to world socialism. We are therefore engaging ourselves in the process of a deep examination of the reasons why these developments took place and whether the trend that manifested itself in these developments can be reversed.
For answering these questions, however, it is necessary to go back to the essence of Marxism-Leninism. For, the more than 70 years of socialist construction since the October Revolution of 1917 were the manifestation of the essence of Marxism-Leninism, the state of the working class. But distortions took place in the process of socialist construction. We therefore have to distinguish between the practice of Marxism with all its distortions and the essence of Marxism-Leninism.
Marx, Engels and Lenin were voluminous writers and they spoke profusely as the theorists of socialist revolution. They outlined the
Member, Polit Bureau, Communist Party of India (Marxist), New Delhi.
Social Scientist, Vol. 19, No. 12, December 1991