Deutscher, Lenin and the East-European Perspectives

On the History of the Theory of Socialism

in Historical Materialism
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The article introduces the reception of Isaac Deutscher’s work in Eastern Europe in a historical context and shows how deeply this reception was connected to the various transformations of the system, which had been established after the victory of the Russian October Revolution. The author gives a Marxist analysis of the historical development of state socialism and the various changes in Eastern-European Marxist thought which accompanied this history. He belongs to that school of thought which defines this system as state socialism, and he gives a theoretical analysis of its main characteristics, adding that 1989 failed to fulfil the expectations and hopes of many Western and Eastern-European Marxists.

Deutscher, Lenin and the East-European Perspectives

On the History of the Theory of Socialism

in Historical Materialism

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References

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4

Deutscher 1968a.

10

Deutscher 1968c.

12

Deutscher 1959.

15

Service 2011.

19

In 1985a young Hungarian author saw a highly important methodological advantage to be drawn from the message of Deutscher’s works on history: ‘Unlike some of Collingwood’s pupils however Deutscher rejects the subjectification of history. The chance elements of history cannot be ignored when historical events are under examination he says in his critique of Carr’s volume History of Soviet Russia. To pretend that history is only furthered by the great necessities is equivalent to squeezing history into abstract theoretical models rather than observing it impartially in its animate flow.’ (Bánfalvi 1985 p. 64.)

22

Lukács 1978bpp. 76–7.

23

Lukács 1978bp. 157.

24

Lukács 1978bp. 159. (For the original Hungarian see Krausz (ed.) 2010.)

27

Deutscher 2003pp. 108–9.

29

Lukács 1976app. 380–1.

31

Krausz 2010pp. 7–13.

32

Cliff 1963p. 20: ‘Deutscher is a puny figure compared to Herzen. The blood of workers spilt in Budapest does not prevent him from proceeding with his toast to Khrushchev. Deutscher opposed all the popular uprisings in Eastern Europe from June 1953 in East Germany to October 1956 in Poland and Hungary. He declared the latter to be counter-revolutions trying “unwittingly to put the clock back”. He cheered the Russian tanks which smashed the workers’ uprisings: “Eastern Europe (Hungary Poland and East Germany) found itself almost on the brink of bourgeois restoration at the end of the Stalin era; and only Soviet armed power (or its threat) stopped it there.” ’ In regard to 1956 Isaac Deutscher framed the question as that of a choice between socialism or capitalism. See Deutscher 1970b as well as its Serbo-Croat and German translations.

33

Jacobson 1972p. 93. ‘The Hungarians driven to heroic frenzy by justifiable grievances were unwittingly turning back the clock of revolutionary progress as the insurrection moved into its counter-revolutionary “Thermidorean” phase; while the Russians sought to rewind the clock with bayonets. Not content with paradoxical clocks Deutscher also repeated in more civilized and temperate manner some of the most malicious Communist canards against the Hungarian revolution. “The ascendancy of anti-Communism found its spectacular climax with Cardinal Mindszenty’s triumphal entry into Budapest to the accompaniment of the bells of all the churches of the city broadcast for the whole world to hear. The Cardinal became the spiritual head of the insurrection. A word of his now carried more weight than Nagy’s appeals. If in the classical revolutions the political initiative shifts rapidly from Right to Left here it shifted even more rapidly from Left to Right. Parties suppressed years ago sprang back into being among them the formidable Smallholders’ Party.” ’.

39

See also van der Linden 2007pp. 50–1. In Eastern Europe and especially Hungary Poland and the Soviet Union we cannot speak of a notable influence upon the circles of ‘critical Marxists’ by the theory of state capitalism which cannot be adapted to Marx’s theory of social formation since it is simply impossible to describe the Stalinist system of profit generation as a capitalist market economy in which accumulation of private ownership is carried on in the interests of a state bourgeoisie with any arguments in favour simply unacceptable on empirical grounds since the bureaucracy could not inherit even a holiday home.

40

See on this van der Linden 2007p. 119.

42

Tőkei 1965 and 1968. On the debate in the Soviet Union see Krausz 1991 pp. 162–6. The purges of the 1930s took their toll in this field as well one of its victims being the excellent Hungarian thinker Lajos Magyar.

44

Sartre 1976.

50

Fehér Heller and Márkus 1984pp. ix and xiii. ‘The socialist (but anti-Leninist) brand of East-European opposition that our theory represents will perhaps appeal to those Leftists whose objective is socialism as radicalised democracy not as dictatorship of any kind.’

51

Bence and Kis 1983. In Hungarian: Heller Fehér and Márkus 1981.

52

Krausz and Tütő (eds.) 1988pp. 209ff.

53

See also Lukács 1976bpp. 270–1.

60

See also Mészáros 1995‘the extraction of surplus-labour is regulated politically and not economically’ (pp. 630–1).

64

Mandel 1991.

65

See also Habermas 1990.

66

See also Krausz 1994.

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