chapter  3
The quicksands of Leninism: Vladimir Ulyanov
Pages 12

Actually, despite his laudable insistence that socialist ideologies ought to be rooted in 'concrete study' of 'actual, not potential, socioeconomic relations' and 'actual, not desired, development', Lenin's position was less realistic, less rooted in Russian realities, than the one he attacked. His perception of the Russian peasantry as an individualistic and disintegrating petite bourgeoisie is belied by the continuing vigour of rural Russia's communal institutions and egalitarian traditions. It could be argued that measures to develop peasant agriculture and village co-operatives would only benefit 'an insignificant minority' in a highly individualistic, proletarianized society, but not in one characterized by vigorous communal institutions and widespread communal ownership of comparatively abundant farmland. Moreover Russia's nascent proletariat was far too tiny and downtrodden to serve as a credible primary vehicle for socialism and it was utterly unrealistic to suppose that Russian socialists could mark time until capitalist industrialization had run its course. Finally, 'large-scale machine industry' would only be a prerequisite for 'socialism', if by 'socialism' one means a closed, yet highly mechanized economy, ignoring the potential gains from international trade and capital transfers and the greater cost-effectiveness of intensive, small-scale, co-operativized agriculture on the Danish pattern, which has been far more successful and far less dependent upon large-scale machinery inputs than the gigantic mechanized 'grain factories' favoured by Lenin.