Russia has strangely and sadly suffered the worst of (fake) communism/socialism, and then the worst of (fake?) capitalism. The latter is somehow grotesque and outrageous: the attempt to bring Russia to capitalism was sabotaged by the capitalists, courtesy to whatever degree of the CIA et al, as an oligarchic endphase of pseudo-capitalism as the fatal starting point. Now it is stuck in a Putinesque limbo of a system without a name, seemingly doomed to attempt (not so fake) fascism, socialism-free Stalinism, and the prophecy outstanding of socialism or barbarism, that is, barbarism.
It is perhaps an inevitable misreading in one way, yet a useful thought experiment in another to ask if the DMNC’s model (swiss army knife tinkertoy) of hybrid systems can’t resolve the perplexity of being stuck with the worst of everything. In our view the Marxist package was flawed from the start, became even more problematical with the Russian case, with its incipient (yet rapidly emerging) capitalism, its peasant problem never addressed properly by Marxism, and its bizarre instant tragic flaw: the complete model of covert agency model of Stalinist nightmares, picked up at once by Lenin from the start, thence from the Tsarist model. As in the beginning, so in the end, and the endgame of the endgame is Putin, a minion of covert agency socialism, the last and final gift of the big hole in Marxism.
Let us consider that the anomaly of Russia, to the Marxist, is no problem with the DMNC system, which could have adapted to the early era of Lenin/Trotsky easily, granting that the Civil War can ruin everything: ironically Lenin himself was forced to try and invent the DMNC model and was forced to adopt markets briefly in the confusion of the period, but then swinging into ironclad ‘communist’ abstraction which eliminated the place of the proletariat in the ‘dictatorship of the bourgeosie’ propagandized as ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’. To the DMNC model the peasant problem simply wasn’t a problem.
A clearer vision might have seen the opportunity in its starting point, and moved to democracy, a Commons, with markets and planning, as a form of communism that was able to be both a socialism and a liberalism. Thus wise the Russian case could have realized our version of (now neo-) communism with liberal aspects, putting its early soaring industrialization under the rubric of ‘socialist markets’, slighly ‘hands off’ yet real expropriation in the abstract, creating a Commons instead of (soon bureaucratic) state capitalism, and pointed to its own transition to democracy along with a regime of rights, a strictly controlled covert agency sector (Derzhinsky off to a one gulag, I guess), thus our characteristic hybrid of socialism with markets, under a Commons. A man in Lenin’s position is/was in a tight spot, but with something more helpful than the Marxist package, a great opportunity might have been realized to really create a path to the kind of ecological socialism we are at pains now to conceive, let along achieve. And yet the core simplicity of our passpartout DMNC model begs the chance in the lost opportunity of the Leninist moment as the whole chance slipped away and ended up in Stalinism. We eerily see Lenin trying to invent briefly the DMNC model.
We should respect the early socialist vision so rudely monopolized by Marx, but consider that, as Marx himself warned, the moment of actualization would confront the unexpected. A good example is the way that the Misean critique of planning blindsided the left in the early twenties just as Lenin and the left were confronting the paradox of the calculation debate on which the Stalin era foundered. The left has finally come to see past that discombolulating trick piece of the rightist Mises but in the era of the first realization of so-called communism it was a nasty surprise. Lenin strangely saw at once a glimpse of the DMNC model and adopted markets briefly, lest we forget his NEP phase. Armed with our balanced model he might have felt more confident in a practical path that dealt with the golden chance of expropriation in a better context than bureaucratic degeneration, the dictatorship of the ‘Marxist bourgeoisie’, etc….The missing elements then for Lenin were, confusion over markets, no democratic instincts, nor any idea of the path from revolutionary control (essential in a revolution, I grant) to democratic starting (something the American rebs were able to manage) point, no idea of a Commons, total obliviousnes about planning, etc, etc…
Let me add that this model could still work for Russia and might help escape the brainbattering from opposite directions now being suffered in gory detail by the tragic Russians. It should have been the moment for Gorbachev who was struggling to find the combination in vain, as the last real potential for Russia slipped away in the deliberate crippling of Russia in the name of democracy and capitalism by the CIA and the capitalist jackals. Small wonder Putin is allergic to demoracy.
Economist Branko Milanovic saw firsthand the soaring inequality of Russia’s 1990s transition to capitalism. He spoke to Jacobin about how Vladimir Putin’s war has plunged the country back into crisis — and placed a bomb under the globalized order.