Written by Leon Trotsky
From Liberty, March 23, 1935
August 17, 1934
as a result of the difficulties and problems that your capitalist
social order is unable to solve, it will discover that communism
, far from being an intolerable bureaucratic tyranny
and individual regimentation, will be the means of greater individual liberty
and shared abundance.
At present most Americans
solely in the light of the experience of the Soviet Union
. They fear lest Sovietism in America
would produce the same material result as it has brought for the culturally backward peoples of the Soviet Union
They fear lest communism
should try to fit them to a bed of Procrustes
, and they point to the bulwark of Anglo-Saxon conservatism
as an insuperable obstacle even to possibly desirable reforms. They argue that Great Britain
would undertake military intervention against the American
soviets. They shudder lest Americans
be regimented in their habits of dress and diet, be compelled to subsist on famine
rations, be forced to read stereotyped official propaganda
in the newspaper
s, be coerced to serve as rubber stamp
s for decisions arrived at without their active participation or be required
to keep their thoughts to themselves and loudly praise their soviet leaders in public, through fear of imprisonment and exile.
They fear monetary inflation
, bureaucratic tyranny
and intolerable red tape
in obtaining the necessities of life. They fear soulless standardization in the art
s and science
s, as well as in the daily necessities of life.
They fear that all political spontaneity and the presumed freedom
of the press will be destroyed by the dictatorship
of a monstrous bureaucracy
. And they shudder at the thought of being forced into an uncomprehended glibness in Marxist
dialectic and disciplined social philosophies. They fear, in a word, that Soviet America
will become the counterpart of what
they have been told Soviet Russia
soviets will be as different from the Russian
soviets as the United States
of President Roosevelt
differs from the Russian Empire
of Czar Nicholas II
. Yet communism
can come in America
only through revolution
, just as independence
came in America
. The American
, and it will insist on breaking a good many dishes and upsetting a good many apple carts before communism
is firmly established. Americans
are enthusiasts and sportsmen before they are specialists and
statesmen, and it would be contrary to the American
tradition to make a major change without choosing sides and cracking heads.
However, the American communist revolution
will be insignificant compared to the Bolshevik Revolution
, in terms of your national wealth and population, no matter how great its comparative cost. That is because
civil war of a revolutionary nature isn't fought by the handful of men at the top -- the 5 or 10 percent who own nine-tenths of American wealth
; this handful could recruit its counterrevolutionary armies only from among
the lower middle classes. Even so, the revolution
could easily attract them to its banner by showing that support of the soviets alone offers them the prospect of salvation
Everybody below this group is already economically prepared for communism
. The depression
has ravaged your working class
and has dealt a crushing blow to the farmers
, who had already been injured by the long agricultural
decline of the postwar decade. There is no reason why these groups should counterpose determined resistance to the revolution
; they have nothing to lose, providing, of course, that the revolutionary leaders adopt a farsighted
and moderate policy toward them.
Who else will fight against communism
? Your corporal's guard of billionaires and multimillionaires? Your Mellon
s and Rockefeller
s? They will cease struggling as soon as they fail to find other people to fight for them.
soviet government will take firm possession of the commanding heights of your business system: the banks, the key industries and the transportation and communication systems. It will then give the farmers
the small tradespeople and businessmen
a good long time to think things over and see how well the nationalized section of industry is working.
Here is where the American
soviets can produce real miracles. "Technocracy" can come true only under communism
, when the dead hands of private property
rights and private profits are lifted from your industrial system. The most daring proposals of the Hoover
commission on standardization and rationalization will seem childish compared to the new possibilities let loose by American communism
National industry will be organized along the line of the conveyor belt in your modern continuous-production automotive factories. Scientific planning can be lifted out of the individual factory and applied to your entire
economic system. The results will be stupendous.
Costs of production will be cut to 20 percent, or less, of their present figure. This, in turn, would rapidly increase your farmers
' purchasing power.
To be sure, the American
soviets would establish their own gigantic farm
enterprises, as schools
of voluntary collectivization. Your farmers
could easily calculate
whether it was to their individual advantage
to remain as isolated links or to join the public chain
The same method would be used to draw small businesses and industries into the national organization of industry. By soviet control of raw materials, credits and quotas of orders, these secondary industries could be kept solvent until they were gradually and without compulsion sucked into the socialized business system.
Without compulsion! The American
soviets would not need to resort to the drastic measures that circumstances have often imposed upon the Russians
. In the United States
, through the science of publicity and advertising, you have means for winning the support of your middle class that were beyond the reach of the soviets of backward Russia
with its vast majority of pauperized and illiterate peasants
. This, in addition to your technical equipment
and your wealth
, is the greatest asset of your coming communist revolution
. Your revolution
will be smoother in character than ours; you will not waste your energies and resources in costly social conflicts
after the main issues have been decided; and you will move ahead so much more rapidly in consequence.
Even the intensity and devotion of religious sentiment in America
will not prove an obstacle to the revolution
. If one assumes the perspective of soviets in America
, none of the psychological brakes will prove firm enough to retard the pressure of the social crisis
. This has been demonstrated more than once in history
. Besides, it should not be forgotten that the Gospels
themselves contain some pretty explosive aphorisms.
As to the comparatively few opponents
of the soviet revolution
, one can trust to American
inventive genius. It may well be that you will take your unconvinced millionaires and send them to some picturesque island,
rent-free for life, where they can do as they please.
You can do this safely, for you will not need to fear foreign interventions. Japan
, Great Britain
and the other capitalistic countries that intervened in Russia
couldn't do anything but take American communism
lying down. As a matter of fact, the victory of communism
-- the stronghold of capitalism
-- will cause communism
to other countries. Japan
will probably have joined the communistic ranks even before the establishment of the American
soviets. The same is true of Great Britain
In any case, it would be a crazy idea to send His Britannic Majesty's fleet against Soviet America
, even as a raid against the southern and more conservative half of your continent. It would be hopeless and would never get any farther than a second-rate military escapade.
Within a few weeks or months of the establishment of the American
soviets, Pan-Americanism would be a political reality.
The governments of Central
and South America
would be pulled into your federation like iron filings to a magnet. So would Canada
. The popular movements in these countries would be so strong that they would force this
great unifying process within a short period and at insignificant costs. I am ready to bet that the first anniversary of the American
soviets would find the Western Hemisphere
transformed into the Soviet United States
and South America
, with its capital at Panama
. Thus for the first time the Monroe Doctrine
would have a complete and positive meaning in world affairs, although not the one foreseen by its author.
In spite of the complaints of some of your arch-conservatives, Roosevelt
is not preparing for a soviet transformation of the United States
(noder's note: the NRA referred to here is the National Recovery Act
, not the National Rifle Association
) aims not to destroy
but to strengthen
the foundations of American capitalism
by overcoming your business difficulties. Not the Blue Eagle
but the difficulties that the Blue Eagle
is powerless to overcome will bring about communism
. The "radical" professors of your Brain Trust are not revolutionists: they are only frightened conservatives. Your president abhors "systems" and "generalities." But a soviet government is the greatest of all possible systems, a gigantic generality in action.
The average man doesn't like systems or generalities either. It is the task of your communist
statesmen to make the system deliver the concrete goods that the average man desires: his food
, amusements, his freedom
to choose his own neckties, his own house
and his own automobile
. It will be easy to give him these comforts in Soviet America
have been misled by the fact that in the USSR
we had to build whole new basic industries from the ground up. Such a thing could not happen in America
, where you are already compelled to cut down on your farm area and to reduce your industrial production. As a matter of fact, your tremendous technological equipment has been paralyzed by the crisis and already clamors to be put to use. You will be able to make a rapid step-up of consumption by your people the starting point of your economic revival.
You are prepared to do this as is no other country. Nowhere else has the study of the internal market reached such intensity as in the United States
. It has been done by your banks, trusts, individual businessmen, merchants, traveling salesmen and farmers
as part of their stock-in-trade. Your soviet government
will simply abolish all trade secrets, will combine all the findings of these researches for individual profit
and will transform them into a scientific system of economic planning. In this your government
will be helped by the existence of a large class of cultured and critical consumers
. By combining the nationalized key industries, your private businesses and democratic consumer cooperation, you will quickly develop a highly flexible system for serving the needs of your population.
This system will be made to work not by bureaucracy and not by policemen but by cold, hard cash.
Your almighty dollar
will play a principal part in making your new soviet system work. It is a great mistake to try to mix a "planned economy" with a "managed currency." Your money must act as regulator with which to measure the success or failure of your planning.
Your "radical" professors are dead wrong in their devotion to "managed money." It is an academic idea that could easily wreck your entire system of distribution and production. That is the great lesson to be derived
from the Soviet Union
, where bitter necessity has been converted into official virtue in the monetary realm.
There the lack of a stable gold
ruble is one of the main causes of our many economic troubles and catastrophes. It is impossible to regulate wages, prices and quality of goods without a firm monetary system. An unstable ruble in a Soviet system is like having variable molds in a conveyor-belt factory. It won't work.
Only when socialism
succeeds in substituting administrative control for money will it be possible to abandon a stable gold
currency. Then money
will become ordinary paper slips, like trolley or theater tickets. As socialism
advances, these slips will also disappear, and control over individual consumption -- whether by money or administration -- will no longer be
necessary when there is more than enough of everything for everybody!
Such a time has not yet come, though America
will certainly reach it before any other country. Until then, the only way to reach such a state of development is to retain an effective regulator and measure for the
working of your system. As a matter of fact, during the first few years a planned economy needs sound money even more than did old-fashioned capitalism
. The professor who regulates the monetary unit with the aim of regulating
the whole business system is like the man who tried to lift both his feet off the ground at the same time.
will possess supplies of gold
big enough to stabilize the dollar
-- a priceless asset. In Russia
we have been expanding our industrial plant by 20 and 30 percent a year; but -- owing to a weak ruble -- we have not been able to distribute this increase effectively. This is partly because we have allowed our bureaucracy to subject our monetary system to administrative
one-sidedness. You will be spared this evil. As a result you will greatly surpass us in both increased production and distribution, leading to a rapid advance in the comfort and welfare of your population.
In all this, you will not need to imitate our standardized production for our pitiable mass consumers. We have taken over from czarist Russia
a pauper's heritage, a culturally undeveloped peasantry with a low standard
of living. We had to build our factories
at the expense of our consumers
. We have had continual monetary inflation and a monstrous bureaucracy.
will not have to imitate our bureaucratic methods. Among us the lack of the bare necessities has caused an intense scramble for an extra loaf of bread
, an extra yard of cloth by everyone. In this struggle our bureaucracy steps forward as a conciliator, as an all-powerful court of arbitration. You, on the other hand, are much wealthier and would have little difficulty in supplying all of your people with all of the necessities
of life. Moreover, your needs, tastes and habits would never permit your bureaucracy to divide the national income. Instead, when you organize your society to produce for human needs rather than private profits, your entire
population will group itself around new trends and groups, which will struggle with one another and prevent an overweening bureaucracy from imposing itself
You can thus avoid growth of bureaucratism by the practice of soviets, that is to say, democracy
-- the most flexible form of government yet developed. Soviet organization cannot achieve miracles but must simply reflect the will of the people. With us the soviets have been bureaucratized as a result of the political monopoly of a single party, which has itself become a bureaucracy. This situation resulted from the exceptional difficulties
pioneering in a poor and backward country.
soviets will be full-blooded and vigorous, without need or opportunity for such measures as circumstances imposed upon Russia
. Your unregenerate capitalist
s will, of course, find no place for themselves
in the new setup. It is hard to imagine Henry Ford
as the head of the Detroit
Yet a wide struggle between interests, groups and ideas is not only conceivable -- it is inevitable. One-year, five-year, ten-year plans of business development; schemes for national education; construction of new basic lines of transportation; the transformation of the farms; the program
for improving the technological and cultural equipment of Latin America
; a program for stratosphere communication; eugenics -- all of these will arouse controversy, vigorous electoral struggle and passionate debate in the newspaper
s and at public meetings.
For Soviet America
will not imitate the monopoly
of the press by the heads of Soviet Russia
's bureaucracy. While Soviet America
would nationalize all printing plants, paper mills and means of distribution, this would
be a purely negative measure. It would simply mean that private capital will no longer be allowed to decide what publications should be established, whether they should be progressive or reactionary, "wet" or "dry," puritanical
or pornographic. Soviet America
will have to find a new solution for the question of how the power of the press is to function in a socialist
regime. It might be done on the basis of proportional representation for the votes
in each soviet election.
Thus the right of each group of citizens to use the power of the press would depend on their numerical strength -- the same principle being applied to the use of meeting halls, allotment of time on the air and so forth.
Thus the management and policy of publications would be decided not by individual checkbooks but by group ideas. This may take little account of numerically small but important groups, but it simply means that each new idea will be compelled, as throughout history, to prove its right to existence.
Rich Soviet America
can set aside vast funds for research and invention, discoveries and experiments in every field. You won't neglect your bold architect
s and sculptor
s, your unconventional poet
s and audacious philosopher
In fact, the Soviet Yankees
of the future will give a lead to Europe
in those very fields where Europe
has hitherto been your master. Europeans
have little conception of the power of technology to influence human destiny and have adopted an attitude of sneering superiority toward "Americanism," particularly since the crisis. Yet Americanism marks the true dividing
line between the Middle Ages
and the modern world.
's conquest of nature has been so violent and passionate that you have had no time to modernize your philosophies or to develop your own artistic forms. Hence you have been hostile to the doctrines of Hegel
. The burning of Darwin
's works by the Baptists
is only a clumsy reflection of the American
dislike for the doctrines of evolution. This attitude is not confined to your pulpits. It is still
part of your general mental makeup.
as well as your Quakers
are determined rationalists. And your rationalism itself is weakened by empiricism and moralism. It has none of the merciless vitality of the great European
rationalists. So your
philosophic method is even more antiquated than your economic system and your political institutions.
Today, quite unprepared, you are being forced to face those social contradictions that grow up unsuspected in every society
. You have conquered nature by means of the tools
that your inventive genius
has created, only to find that your tools
have all but destroyed you. Contrary to all your hopes and desires, your unheard-of wealth
has produced unheard-of misfortunes. You have discovered that social development does not follow a simple formula. Hence you have been thrust into the school of the dialectic -- to stay.
There is no turning back from it to the mode of thinking and acting prevalent in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
While the romantic numskulls of Nazi Germany
are dreaming of restoring the old race of Europe's Dark Forest
to its original purity, or rather its original filth, you Americans
, after taking a firm grip on your economic
machinery and your culture
, will apply genuine scientific methods to the problem of eugenics. Within a century, out of your melting pot of races there will come a new breed of men -- the first worthy of the name of Man.
One final prophecy: In the third year of soviet rule in America
, you will no longer chew gum!
::end of essay::
Essay provided by the Trotsky
On edit: I don't understand why I would have to include a disclaimer stating that I added this node/essay for its historical value.