In 1916 Bukharin produced a masterly article, ‘Towards a Theory of the Imperialist State’.1 In it he came to the conclusion that the modern bourgeois state had grown into a monstrous oppressive power, militarist in ethos, absolute in its pretensions, swallowing up all the vital forces of society and destroying all group and individual autonomy. In his nightmare vision the ‘mailed fist’, the ‘iron heel’ of the modern imperialist state impressed its ruthless stamp upon a cowed and servile society. The pattern of domination and subservience which the Marxist idea of the state encapsulated, had been brought to its perfected expression. The imperative for Marxists to concentrate all their attention on the destruction of this new Leviathan was, he believed, inescapable.
KeywordsImperialist State Direct Democracy Coercive Power Monopoly Capitalism Poor Peasant
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- 1.N. I. Bukharin, ‘K teorii imperialisticheskogo gosudarstva’, in Revoliutsia prava, Sbornik pervyi, no. 25 (Moscow, 1925; referred to hereafter as ‘K teorii’).Google Scholar
- This article was written in 1916, and various parts and abstracts of it were published in that year — for details see S. Heitman, Nikolai I. Bukharin: A Bibliography, (Stanford, Calif., 1969) pp. 29–30 — but it was not published in full until 1925. Not available in translation.Google Scholar
- 3.‘K teorii’, p. 8. See F. Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, (Chicago, 1902) p. 206.Google Scholar
- 4.Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, The Manifesto of the Communist Party; in Collected Works, 5o vols (London, 1975–) vol. vi, p. 499: ‘Capital is, therefore, not a personal, it is a social power.’Google Scholar
- 6.N. Bukharin, Mirovoe khozyaistvo i imperializm, with an Introduction by Lenin (Moscow, 1917). References in the text are to the English translation, Imperialism and World Economy (London, n.d. [1929 or 1930]).Google Scholar
- 7.R. Hilferding, Das Finanzkapital, in M. Adler (ed.), Marx-Studien, Dritter Band (Vienna, 1910). References in the text are to the Russian edition, Finansovyi kapital (Moscow, 1914).Google Scholar
- 14.V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 45 vols (Moscow, 1960–70) vol. xxxv, p. 231.Google Scholar
- 16.Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, 2 vols (London, 1942) vol. ii, pp. 315–426. I have resorted to the Selected Works for those texts not yet covered by the Collected Works (see note 4).Google Scholar
- 30.A useful, if somewhat exhaustive, account of the manner in which these agencies of working-class self-administration were rapidly usurped by the party-state apparatus is given in Charles Bettelheim’s Class Struggles in the USSR, vol. I: 1917–1923 (Hassocks, Sussex, 1977).Google Scholar