What if Marx had never been born?

Have just read this article and it struck me that this is a new idea? Or am I wrong and this is old hat as they used to say?
For all the musings about going back and killing Hitler (amongst others Deadpool and Stephen Fry have touched on this), I do not recall anyone musing on history sans Marx. The paper mentions the "cometh the hour, cometh the man" sort of idea.
Here is the paper, which is linked in the article in any case, I have not finished reading it yet.
 
If marx was the only one with such ideas, yes then it would have improved the world, but he wasn't. his ideas did not appear in a vacuum, and marx may have witten the books, don't underestimate the influence of engels on his writing.
So if if marx hadn't written something like it, something alike would have appeared.
And lets be honest marx wrote it in a time and place with extreme excesses of capitalism, so the point about his writings having a bad influence on the world history is a one sided view, capitalism had just as bad influences, so it really is a matter of pot meet kettle.
 
Whoever replaced him would have been somewhat different, which (hopefully) would have resulted in a more egalitarian, less violent, and less totalitarian movement.
 
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Not sure I necessarily agree that Marx, or indeed Hitler (or myself come to that) are inevitable, despite that it is a narrative device I have enjoyed in Science Fiction I shy away from fatalism IRL.
Still ploughing my way through the paper, will try and digest a of it chunk out of it later as I must get on now.
 
Socialism existed before Marx, radical revolutionaries waving red flags were a thing in the French Revolution already, and neoliberals trying to demonize Marx, a guy who only wrote philosophical and economic theory, are and remain complete and total idiots.

What's next? We're gonna blame John Locke for the Jacobins and the guillotine?
 
Whoever replaced him would have been somewhat different, which (hopefully) eould have resulted in a more egalitarian, less violent, and less totalitarian movement.
Considering that Marx was arguing for a stateless society and the Bolsheviks still figured out that that meant a bureaucratic dictatorship with total control over politics and economy, I doubt that whoever would have replaced Marx could have stopped radical authoritarians from being radical and authoritarians.
 
Either anarchism or blanquism would be the main strains of socialist thought, neither of which historically offered a critique that was as deep and merciless as Marx and Engels'.

Considering that Marx was arguing for a stateless society and the Bolsheviks still figured out that that meant a bureaucratic dictatorship with total control over politics and economy, I doubt that whoever would have replaced Marx could have stopped radical authoritarians from being radical and authoritarians.

What distinguished Marx from Bakunin was exactly whether there should've been a state or not. The stateless society was the intended end, but the "bureaucratic dictatorship" you're talking about, in fact a state of some sort, a quasi-state as I call it, was the intermediate step. The proletarian dictatorship would've been the state as we know it, ruled by the proletariat, as it withers away, with every condition that makes its existence necessary. That's what would've made it a quasi-state.
From a purely Marxist point of view, Lenin did absolutely nothing wrong.
 
Socialism existed before Marx, radical revolutionaries waving red flags were a thing in the French Revolution already, and neoliberals trying to demonize Marx, a guy who only wrote philosophical and economic theory, are and remain complete and total idiots.

What's next? We're gonna blame John Locke for the Jacobins and the guillotine?
Probably more Rousseau for the Jacobins. Obviously you COULD find plenty of similar ideologues, and of course the Jacobins weren't always onboard with his ideas (for example, he was emphatically in favor of small-scale democracy, something they actively suppressed) but he did have a significant impact on them.
 
Whoever replaced him would have been somewhat different, which (hopefully) eould have resulted in a more egalitarian, less violent, and less totalitarian movement.
For the record, the thing that most influence communism was the Russian revolution, and the concurrent adoption of the principle of democratic centralism by the largest and most influential communist nation. If, say, communism had cropped in a different place or if things had gone differently. It could very well go the route of standard social democracy, or anarchism, or even pure populism. Marx being there, or him not being there is pretty irelevant to all of this.
 
What distinguished Marx from Bakunin was exactly whether there should've been a state or not. The stateless society was the intended end, but the "bureaucratic dictatorship" you're talking about, in fact a state of some sort, a quasi-state as I call it, was the intermediate step. The proletarian dictatorship would've been the state as we know it, ruled by the proletariat, as it withers away, with every condition that makes its existence necessary. That's what would've made it a quasi-state.
From a purely Marxist point of view, Lenin did absolutely nothing wrong.
Except for the part that the proletariat ruled nothing in Soviet Russia, and all the power was in the hands of a permanent party aristocracy.
And the state doing everything but withering away.

Not that trying to meticulously follow Marx's politico-philosophical theory was ever a particularly smart idea. The first mistake was to treat his stuff as some kind of gospel to follow to the letter rather than influential writings of someone you're taking notes from.

Funny thing is that, from a purely Marxist point of view, a communist revolution in a Russia that was still largely agrarian wasn't even supposed to happen.
 
Either anarchism or blanquism would be the main strains of socialist thought, neither of which historically offered a critique that was as deep and merciless as Marx and Engels'.



What distinguished Marx from Bakunin was exactly whether there should've been a state or not. The stateless society was the intended end, but the "bureaucratic dictatorship" you're talking about, in fact a state of some sort, a quasi-state as I call it, was the intermediate step. The proletarian dictatorship would've been the state as we know it, ruled by the proletariat, as it withers away, with every condition that makes its existence necessary. That's what would've made it a quasi-state.
From a purely Marxist point of view, Lenin did absolutely nothing wrong.
Lenin was opposed to taxation which is part of the ten planks of communism. From a Marxist perspective, Lenin did plenty wrong.
 
Except for the part that the proletariat ruled nothing in Soviet Russia, and all the power was in the hands of a permanent party aristocracy.

The party was conceived as the vanguard of the working class, that is the most "class-conscious" (in really vulgar terms: the most Marxist) section of it. This is also Marx, though Lenin deepened the concept.
The state gave itself instruments of proletarian rule in the form of the soviets, to which only soldiers, peasants and workers could participate, excluding priests and all sections of the population which had unearned forms of income. Until at least the late '20s, maybe mid '30s, the Soviet state was based in these formations.

And the state doing everything but withering away.

Can't wither away in a single state lacking self-sufficiency. In order to speak of a stateless society we have to speak of a classless society, and the proletarian dictatorship, by virtue of being the dictatorship of one class (the proletariat) over the rest of society, is still a class society. The proletariat must abolish itself by abolishing all other classes.
How does the proletariat abolish itself? By centralizing all economic enterprise in the hands of its state, thus wiping out the bourgeoisie as a class.
What follows then is the abolition of wage labor itself, which is the condition that distinguishes the proletariat, a condition which can be traced to the relation between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat but which can be perpetuated by the state itself. But, as the proletariat abolishes wage labor, it abolishes itself, and thus the foundation of the state it rules through its vanguard. Without a class to rule it with, the state itself becomes redundant, and can only cease to exist afterwards.
In a country lacking self-sufficiency, wage labor and the profit motive itself have to be perpetuated in order to survive. The country, even under proletarian rule, has to perpetuate some form of wage labor and mercantilism in order to acquire what it needs from other countries.

To make a really long story short, a Marxist would tell you that one can only afford to speak of an elimination of the state when there will be no other states aside from the proletarian one. Until the whole world is a single proletarian dictatorship, or some form of it, because only the entire world's resources, by definition, can make an entire society self-sufficient to the point of entirely doing away with wage labor and mercantile logics, including the use of money itself which, from a Marxist perpective, is seen as the king of all commodities.

Pilsudski placed a wrench in all this, he locked the Soviet state to Russia, preventing it from assisting or reviving the revolutions that had died down in Western Europe. If Tukhachevsky would've known of the cracked ciphers...

Funny thing is that, from a purely Marxist point of view, a communist revolution in a Russia that was still largely agrarian wasn't even supposed to happen.

No, the country had a working class, it was merely underdeveloped owing to the underdeveloped state of capitalism in Russia. It doesn't matter, it was enough to seize power, and from there work towards its own expansion as a class. This was what the NEP was for.
Note that the matter here isn't agrarian or industrial, but wage labor vs anything else, because it isn't industry that defines the proletariat as a class. This is why, during the NEP, an agricultural bourgeoisie AND agricultural proletariat emerged, while a significant portion of the land was directly nationalized afterwards, turning its workers into agricultural wage earners, in other words a rural proletariat.
Collectivization and the establishment of the kolhoz enterprise was something else, a half-measure Stalin took not to piss off the agricultural bourgeoise that the NEP created. He couldn't or wouldn't nationalize their land, so he collectivized it. We know how that went.

Lenin was opposed to taxation which is part of the ten planks of communism. From a Marxist perspective, Lenin did plenty wrong.

Taxation can't exist in a communist society, by definition. There's no state and no money, which means no state to pay taxes to and no money to pay them with. There may or may not exist some form of taxation in the transitional society in which the state is there but is in its withering process, but in the intended communist society there would be no such thing.
Marx opposed taxation as far back as 1848, when during the revolts in Germany called on citizens not to pay taxes. Critique of the Gotha Programme , dated 1875, also criticizes Lassalle stating:

That, in fact, by the word "state" is meant the government machine, or the state insofar as it forms a special organism separated from society through division of labor, is shown by the words "the German Workers' party demands as the economic basis of the state: a single progressive income tax", etc. Taxes are the economic basis of the government machinery and of nothing else. In the state of the future, existing in Switzerland, this demand has been pretty well fulfilled. Income tax presupposes various sources of income of the various social classes, and hence capitalist society. It is, therefore, nothing remarkable that the Liverpool financial reformers — bourgeois headed by Gladstone's brother — are putting forward the same demand as the program.
 
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The party was conceived as the vanguard of the working class, that is the most "class-conscious" (in really vulgar terms: the most Marxist) section of it. This is also Marx, though Lenin deepened the concept.
False. Lenin via Karl Kautsky.
The state gave itself instruments of proletarian rule in the form of the soviets, to which only soldiers, peasants and workers could participate, excluding priests and all sections of the population which had unearned forms of income. Until at least the late '20s, maybe mid '30s, the Soviet state was based in these formations.



Can't wither away in a single state lacking self-sufficiency. In order to speak of a stateless society we have to speak of a classless society, and the proletarian dictatorship, by virtue of being the dictatorship of one class (the proletariat) over the rest of society, is still a class society. The proletariat must abolish itself by abolishing all other classes.
How does the proletariat abolish itself? By centralizing all economic enterprise in the hands of its state, thus wiping out the bourgeoisie as a class.
What follows then is the abolition of wage labor itself, which is the condition that distinguishes the proletariat, a condition which can be traced to the relation between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat but which can be perpetuated by the state itself. But, as the proletariat abolishes wage labor, it abolishes itself, and thus the foundation of the state it rules through its vanguard. Without a class to rule it with, the state itself becomes redundant, and can only cease to exist afterwards.
In a country lacking self-sufficiency, wage labor and the profit motive itself have to be perpetuated in order to survive. The country, even under proletarian rule, has to perpetuate some form of wage labor and mercantilism in order to acquire what it needs from other countries.

To make a really long story short, a Marxist would tell you that one can only afford to speak of an elimination of the state when there will be no other states aside from the proletarian one. Until the whole world is a single proletarian dictatorship, or some form of it, because only the entire world's resources, by definition, can make an entire society self-sufficient to the point of entirely doing away with wage labor and mercantile logics, including the use of money itself which, from a Marxist perpective, is seen as the king of all commodities.
Money is the king of all commodities in the Marxist perspective?? Money isnt a commodity, it's a store of value.

Pilsudski placed a wrench in all this, he locked the Soviet state to Russia, preventing it from assisting or reviving the revolutions that had died down in Western Europe. If Tukhachevsky would've known of the cracked ciphers...



No, the country had a working class, it was merely underdeveloped owing to the underdeveloped state of capitalism in Russia. It doesn't matter, it was enough to seize power, and from there work towards its own expansion as a class. This was what the NEP was for.
Sorry what was the NEP for?
Note that the matter here isn't agrarian or industrial, but wage labor vs anything else, because it isn't industry that defines the proletariat as a class. This is why, during the NEP, an agricultural bourgeoisie AND agricultural proletariat emerged, while a significant portion of the land was directly nationalized afterwards, turning its workers into agricultural wage earners, in other words a rural proletariat.
Collectivization and the establishment of the kolhoz enterprise was something else, a half-measure Stalin took not to piss off the agricultural bourgeoise that the NEP created. He couldn't or wouldn't nationalize their land, so he collectivized it. We know how that went.



Taxation can't exist in a communist society, by definition. There's no state and no money, which means no state to pay taxes to and no money to pay them with. There may or may not exist some form of taxation in the transitional society in which the state is there but is in its withering process, but in the intended communist society there would be no such thing.
Marx opposed taxation as far back as 1848, when during the revolts in Germany called on citizens not to pay taxes. Critique of the Gotha Programme , dated 1875, also criticizes Lassalle stating:
I'm not sure you're correct that this is a critique. Marx certainly advocated personal tax evasion; as early as 1845 Engels was advocating for a "heavy and graduated progressive income tax", which was revolutionary at the time, while opposing consumptions taxes which were common at the time.

Marx and Engels wrote about the different types of taxation they advocated for into the 1860s and 1890s in Engels' case.
 
False. Lenin via Karl Kautsky.

If the International Workingmen's Association wasn't the vanguard party of the working class in Marx's time, I don't know what it was.

Money is the king of all commodities in the Marxist perspective?? Money isnt a commodity, it's a store of value.

Commodities are conceived as goods produced to be exchange for others. Money is produced (issued), and it is exchanged for other commodities.
Quoting from Economic Manuscripts, Vol. 1

The commodity that functions as a measure of value, and, either in its own person or by a representative, as the medium of circulation, is money. Gold (or silver) is therefore money. It functions as money, on the one hand, when it has to be present in its own golden person. It is then the money-commodity, neither merely ideal, as in its function of a measure of value, nor capable of being represented, as in its function of circulating medium. On the other hand, it also functions as money, when by virtue of its function, whether that function be performed in person or by representative, it congeals into the sole form of value, the only adequate form of existence of exchange-value, in opposition to use-value, represented by all other commodities.

Sorry what was the NEP for?

The establishment of mature capitalist relations of production, which would expand the working class. Wage labor as we know it can only emerge from capitalism, hence the Russian Soviet state needed to develop a mature capitalist society... before being able in any way to deconstruct it, if and when it would've seized the rest of the world.

I'm not sure you're correct that this is a critique.

It is a critique, Critique of the Gotha Programme was a critique of Ferdinand Lassalle's political program, and in it he advocated, among many things, a progressive income tax, something Marx was attacking here. I can quote you the whole passage to give it a broader context, but it'd be way longer.

A. "The free basis of the state."
First of all, according to II, the German Workers' party strives for "the free state".

Free state — what is this?
It is by no means the aim of the workers, who have got rid of the narrow mentality of humble subjects, to set the state free. In the German Empire, the "state" is almost as "free" as in Russia. Freedom consists in converting the state from an organ superimposed upon society into one completely subordinate to it; and today, too, the forms of state are more free or less free to the extent that they restrict the "freedom of the
state".
The German Workers' party — at least if it adopts the program — shows that its socialist ideas are not even skin-deep; in that, instead of treating existing society (and this holds good for any future one) as the basis of the existing state (or of the future state in the case of future society), it treats the state rather as an independent entity that possesses its own intellectual, ethical, and libertarian bases.
And what of the riotous misuse which the program makes of the words "present-day state", "present-day society", and of the still more riotous misconception it creates in regard to the state to which it addresses its demands?
"Present-day society" is capitalist society, which exists in all civilized countries, more or less free from medieval admixture, more or less modified by the particular historical development of each country, more or less developed. On the other hand, the "present-day state" changes with a country's frontier. It is different in the Prusso-German Empire from what it is in Switzerland, and different in England from what it is in the United States. The "present-day state" is therefore a fiction.
Nevertheless, the different states of the different civilized countries, in spite or their motley diversity of form, all have this in common: that they are based on modern bourgeois society, only one more or less capitalistically developed. They have, therefore, also certain essential characteristics in common. In this sense, it is possible to speak of the "present-day state" in contrast with the future, in which its present root, bourgeois society, will have died off.
The question then arises: What transformation will the state undergo in communist society? In other words, what social functions will remain in existence there that are analogous to present state functions?
This question can only be answered scientifically, and one does not get a flea-hop nearer to the problem by a thousand-fold combination of the word 'people' with the word 'state'.
Between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.
Now the program does not deal with this nor with the future state of communist society.
Its political demands contain nothing beyond the old democratic litany familiar to all: universal suffrage, direct legislation, popular rights, a people's militia, etc. They are a mere echo of the bourgeois People's party, of the League of Peace and Freedom. They are all demands which, insofar as they are not exaggerated in fantastic presentation, have already been realized. Only the state to which they belong does not lie within the borders of the German Empire, but in Switzerland, the United States, etc. This sort of "state of the future" is a present-day state, although existing outside the "framework" of the German Empire.
But one thing has been forgotten. Since the German Workers' party expressly declares that it acts within "the present-day national state", hence within its own state, the Prusso-German Empire — its demands would indeed be otherwise largely meaningless, since one only demands what one has not got — it should not have forgotten the chief thing, namely, that all those pretty little gewgaws rest on the recognition of the so-called sovereignty of the people and hence are appropriate only in a democratic republic.
Since one has not the courage — and wisely so, for the circumstances demand caution — to demand the democratic republic, as the French workers' programs under Louis Philippe and under Louis Napoleon did, one should not have resorted, either, to the subterfuge, neither "honest" [1] nor decent, of demanding things which have meaning only in a democratic republic from a state which is nothing but a police-guarded military despotism, embellished with parliamentary forms, alloyed with a feudal admixture, already influenced by the bourgeoisie, and bureaucratically carpentered, and then to assure this state into the bargain that one imagines one will be able to force such things upon it "by legal means".
Even vulgar democracy, which sees the millennium in the democratic republic, and has no suspicion that it is precisely in this last form of state of bourgeois society that the class struggle has to be fought out to a conclusion — even it towers mountains above this kind of democratism, which keeps within the limits of what is permitted by the police and not permitted by logic.
That, in fact, by the word "state" is meant the government machine, or the state insofar as it forms a special organism separated from society through division of labor, is shown by the words "the German Workers' party demands as the economic basis of the state: a single progressive income tax", etc. Taxes are the economic basis of the government machinery and of nothing else. In the state of the future, existing in Switzerland, this demand has been pretty well fulfilled. Income tax presupposes various sources of income of the various social classes, and hence capitalist society. It is, therefore, nothing remarkable that the Liverpool financial reformers — bourgeois headed by Gladstone's brother — are putting forward the same demand as the program.

Figured that if you could get a better view of how Marx viewed the state, you would better understand his criticism of taxation. His main point here was that literally all of Lassalle's programmatic points could be claimed by any bourgeoise republic. There is nothing revolutionary or Marxist in income taxes, whether flat or progressive.

Marx certainly advocated personal tax evasion; as early as 1845 Engels was advocating for a "heavy and graduated progressive income tax", which was revolutionary at the time, while opposing consumptions taxes which were common at the time.
Marx and Engels wrote about the different types of taxation they advocated for into the 1860s and 1890s in Engels' case.

You'll have to quotemine me on that. It must also be clear that immediate programmatic points expressed in the Manifesto were (yes) immediate, and they neither represented the full picture of the communist world, nor were they eternal talking points, since decades later at least some of those points would be appropriated by bourgeoise states.
I think we can all claim that most of the world has centralized education in the hands of the state. Bourgeoise state, but state nevertheless.
 
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If the International Workingmen's Association wasn't the vanguard party of the working class in Marx's time, I don't know what it was.



Commodities are conceived as goods produced to be exchange for others. Money is produced (issued), and it is exchanged for other commodities.
Quoting from Economic Manuscripts, Vol. 1





The establishment of mature capitalist relations of production, which would expand the working class. Wage labor as we know it can only emerge from capitalism, hence the Russian Soviet state needed to develop a mature capitalist society... before being able in any way to deconstruct it, if and when it would've seized the rest of the world.



It is a critique, Critique of the Gotha Programme was a critique of Ferdinand Lassalle's political program, and in it he advocated, among many things, a progressive income tax, something Marx was attacking here. I can quote you the whole passage to give it a broader context, but it'd be way longer.



Figured that if you could get a better view of how Marx viewed the state, you would better understand his criticism of taxation. His main point here was that literally all of Lassalle's programmatic points could be claimed by any bourgeoise republic. There is nothing revolutionary or Marxist in income taxes, whether flat or progressive.




You'll have to quotemine me on that. It must also be clear that immediate programmatic points expressed in the Manifesto were (yes) immediate, and they neither represented the full picture of the communist world, nor were they eternal talking points, since decades later at least some of those points would be appropriated by bourgeoise states.
I think we can all claim that most of the world has centralized education in the hands of the state. Bourgeoise state, but state nevertheless.
Wait...so because states adopted education, it stopped being Marxist?
 
Have just read this article and it struck me that this is a new idea? Or am I wrong and this is old hat as they used to say?
For all the musings about going back and killing Hitler (amongst others Deadpool and Stephen Fry have touched on this), I do not recall anyone musing on history sans Marx. The paper mentions the "cometh the hour, cometh the man" sort of idea.
Here is the paper, which is linked in the article in any case, I have not finished reading it yet.
Engels already was doing the historical review on his own way, marx was one of a hell of historian, so any doctrine Engels might make, would lack the details Marx brought to the table
 
Wait...so because states adopted education, it stopped being Marxist?

Public education, not education in general. Before public education, people would go, for example, to a churn-ran school.
It was never Marxist to begin with, it was an immediate measure, and even then the public education conceived in the Manifesto differs in nature and objectives from contemporary public education.
A communist society would have education by society, not by the state, state education would merely help pave the way for this, while in our regimes, public education is, at best, an end to itself.

The exact same goes with progressive taxation. It might or might not be there in a proletarian dictatorship, but it's neither its defining aspect, nor an aspect of a communist society which, by then, has already transcended taxation.
Progressive income taxes are, contextualized to the Manifesto, merely an immediate measure to expropriate the bourgeoisie, while in the bourgeoise state they're conceived as means to fill the piggy banks the state routinely breaks to finance and maintain itself, but just like public education and, I might argue, even the labor voucher which is conceived to succeed money which Marx conceives in Gothacritik, they are not aspects of Marxism, merely proposed immediate tacticisms which, anyway, need to be contextualized, because Marxists don't do taxation, education or currency for that matter like, well, normal people do.

Being provocative, a proletarian dictatorship might just get directly to the business of nationalizations without compensation, without any need to tax the overthrown class, while education might already be decentralized to the local soviet, and the labor voucher itself, succeding money, may as well be bypassed, if production has been optimized quickly enough to allow an immediate abundance of goods to everyone, without having to endure any more of the manifestation of scarcity which is trade.

They're so much not aspects of Marxism that no proletarian state even needs them at all, if your long-term objective is a stateless, classless, moneyless society in which property is socially owned (or, in other words, in which property is destroyed).
 
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Public education, not education in general. Before public education, people would go, for example, to a churn-ran school.
It was never Marxist to begin with, it was an immediate measure, and even then the public education conceived in the Manifesto differs in nature and objectives from contemporary public education.
A communist society would have education by society, not by the state, state education would merely help pave the way for this, while in our regimes, public education is, at best, an end to itself.

The exact same goes with progressive taxation. It might or might not be there in a proletarian dictatorship, but it's neither its defining aspect, nor an aspect of a communist society which, by then, has already transcended taxation.
Progressive income taxes are, contextualized to the Manifesto, merely an immediate measure to expropriate the bourgeoisie, while in the bourgeoise state they're conceived as means to fill the piggy banks the state routinely breaks to finance and maintain itself, but just like public education and, I might argue, even the labor voucher which is conceived to succeed money which Marx conceives in Gothacritik, they are not aspects of Marxism, merely proposed immediate tacticisms which, anyway, need to be contextualized, because Marxists don't do taxation, education or currency for that matter like, well, normal people do.

Being provocative, a proletarian dictatorship might just get directly to the business of nationalizations without compensation, without any need to tax the overthrown class, while education might already be decentralized to the local soviet, and the labor voucher itself, succeding money, may as well be bypassed, if production has been optimized quickly enough to allow an immediate abundance of goods to everyone, without having to endure any more of the manifestation of scarcity which is trade.

They're so much not aspects of Marxism that no proletarian state even needs them at all, if your long-term objective is a stateless, classless, moneyless society in which property is socially owned (or, in other words, in which property is destroyed).
Ok but Lenin's Soviet Union under the NEP was not a communist society, it was at best a transitional state. So by ignoring what Marx said would be required in the transitional state, you could say that Lenin did lots wrong, according to Marx, which is how this conversation started.
 
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