One hundred years ago, the Bolshevik Revolution triumphed in Russia. Whoever wants to understand what happened and how it happened should read “Lenin and Totalitarianism” (Debate, 2017), a brief historic essay full of information and lucid critical judgment published by Chilean professor Mauricio Rojas, a former hard-core Marxist who discovered in Sweden the intellectual mistake he had made.
The Russian Revolution was one of the stellar moments of the 20th Century. Many intellectuals and large masses of workers were filled with illusion. It happened by invoking the ideas of Karl Marx in what appeared to be the first time in history that rationality and science would guide the tasks of government.
Supposedly, the German thinker had discovered the laws that explain the course of society through dialectical materialism. He had become aware of the fatal division of classes that clashed in order to advance history through collisions.
Indignant, he denounced the form of exploitation exerted by the owners of the means of production over the proletarians, from whom they cruelly extracted their capital gains. At the same time, he pointed to the inevitability of the triumph of the workers in what would be the end of a nefarious historic stage and the start of the glorious era of socialism in its trajectory to definitive communism.
It was the era of scientific certainty. Darwin had explained the evolutional origin of the species. Long before, Isaac Newton had told how the planets moved and had formulated the Law of Universal Gravitation. God was no longer necessary for an understanding of the existence of life. It was not yet the time for quantum physics or Werner Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Every event had its cause and antecedent. Marx had simply extended that atmosphere into the field of Social Sciences.
Intent on consummating the grandiose project of transforming reality, Lenin harshly assumed the need to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat, directed by the apex of the Communist Party, as the initial phase of the road toward a classless society, joyful and mutually supportive, as Marx promised at the end of the revolutionary process. It would be a society where neither judges nor laws would be needed because criminal behavior was the product of the system of capitalist property relations in the evil pre-revolutionary era.
However, the communist experiment was paid with millions of people dead, imprisoned, tortured and exiled, amid an undisputable relative material backwardness made evident in the cases of the two Germanies and the two Koreas. Simply put, the dreams were frustrated in a never-ending sequence of failures and violence, while the illusions became cynicism petrified by the doublespeak that forced communists to hide all the horrors and errors in the name of the sacrosanct revolution.
The State’s central planning turned out to be infinitely less productive than the spontaneous growth generated by the market and the free prices, as predicted by Ludwig von Mises in his essays, published precisely in the early years of the Bolshevik Revolution, perhaps with the objective of showing Lenin the unavoidable obstacle of his spectacular (and bloody) revolution.
Finally, in the early 1990s, the communist experiment imploded, the Soviet Union fell apart, the European satellites rectified their paths, reprised the democratic course, privatized the State-run enterprises, opted for the market and walked — each at its own pace — on the path set by the European Union.
In all cases, the electoral door remained open to the return of the communists to power via the democratic route. Until now, however, no country has incurred in that insane retrogression, even though they’re home to a small percentage of unrepentant communists, almost all of them elderly, who feel a certain nostalgia for a past in which they were relevant — at the cost of the majority’s indescribable suffering.
Why did everything turned out so bad? Surely because the starting point was wrong: human beings were gifted with a certain nature that didn’t dovetail with the poor Marxist scheme. That explains why the communist revolutions failed in all latitudes (north, south, tropical), in all cultures (Germanic, Latin, Asian), and under all types of leaders (Lenin, Mao, Castro). It is a rule that doesn’t admit exceptions. Communist revolutions always go wrong. That tragedy began 100 years ago.
Published in Spanish by El Blog de Montaner on Saturday October 14th, 2017