Image by RIA Novosti
“Burzhui” was a dreaded word in the first decades following the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. A brutal word derived from the French “bourgeois”, it was a label affixed to any resident of the former Russian empire who had managed to achieve any level of financial success while not being a part of either the hereditary nobility or the cadres of the Communist Party. Being labeled a burzhui, meant that you and your relatives and even descendants would be subject to immediate repression, including loss of all income opportunities, confiscation of all possessions, possible imprisonment and exile, and even execution. There were no get out of jail free cards; famous physician? Doesn’t matter, you will never practice again. World class composer? Better run for your life like Rachmaninoff. Engineer? Not any longer, except maybe in a labor camp.
But this is insanity, you say? How can any government make its highest priority the repression of ALL the successful and skilled people under its jurisdiction? Surely that would be tantamount to national suicide? As subsequent events have shown, these actions were indeed tantamount to Russia committing suicide and we will return to this later, but first it is important to understand the rationale behind these actions as advanced by the Russian communists. As most folks know, communism implies government ownership and control of all means of production, while socialism implies government ownership over the major means of production, leaving some room for private ownership of small inconsequential business. What may surprise some of my readers though, is that government or state control of the means of production is by no means a modern-day idea. In fact, this is the way most civilized human societies have always operated. In feudal Europe, Japan, and China, the “state” was your village or small town, which “belonged” to the local feudal lord. Means of production, such as wine presses, stables, blacksmith shops, etc. all belonged to the feudal ruler, as did the vast majority of the cultivated and uncultivated lands. Society thus consisted of the feudal family representing a narrow ruling class, a small number of artisans and professionals who served at the pleasure of the feudal family, and the vast majority of the people, who owned next to nothing.
The few professionals that existed then were in no way considered the equals of their feudal lords. In War and Peace, Tolstoy makes a point of describing in some detail how old Count Bolkonsky’s architect, Mikhail Ivanovich was invited by the count to eat at his table rather than at the servants’ table and how the old count’s treatment of his architect as an equal was one his greatest eccentricities. Thus the professional class was really an extension of the servant class, a class that was drawn entirely from indentured servants. In a different scene, Tolstoy describes count Rostoff’s joy at buying his chef de cuisine, who was a serf, for a thousand rubles, because his exquisite skill guaranteed that the count’s dinner parties were the talk of the town.
This particular social structure encouraged laziness and actively discouraged hard work and innovation in technology and business alike. While some peasants were enterprising and found ways of making some money on the side and improving their condition, most felt that their total lack of property rights made such investments too risky. They worked only as little as absolutely necessary to avoid the wrath of the supervisor or being sent to serve in the military. A few nobles, as the young count Nikolai Rostoff, were industrious and innovative, but many if not most were indifferent land owners and tended to leave the management of their estates to hired managers, as was the case with Nikolai’s father who eventually went bankrupt.
As technology advanced and means of production diversified beyond agriculture and associated industries, a new class of people started appearing in places as far apart as Europe and Japan. These were skilled free people who could rely on their education to provide valuable services or make high value-add products. These were lawyers, doctors, shoemakers, gunsmiths, architects, engineers, and sea captains to name but a few. They tended to live in places that had a high populations of potential customers, such as the larger provincial seats and capital cities. Eventually, they amassed significant wealth and became politically influential. Since the one thing that was common to them was their status of city dwellers, the French called them just that: city folk, or, in French, bourgeois. Their class, the MIDDLE class between the peasantry and the nobility was thus called the bourgeoisie.
While the appearance of this class dates back to the seventeenth century in Northern Europe and in Japan, it was mid to late 19th century that saw the true worldwide coming of age of the bourgeoisie. In Karl Marx’s lifetime, the nobility was nearly impoverished and mostly irrelevant, the peasantry forgotten in their country hamlets, and the large cities saw the emergence of the bourgeois as the new property owning class, with displaced peasants toiling in the factories as a new class of the downtrodden. Marx perceived in the bourgeoisie not a collection of highly enterprising, hardworking, and innovative individuals, but rather a class of leaches that did not deserve the ownership of their means of production be they a modest law office or a factory employing tens of thousands. It meant nothing to Marx and his communist followers that it was the very bourgeoisie they so tirelessly maligned that was responsible to all of the prosperity and technological innovations brought about by the industrial revolution. Blinded by the excesses of deplorable working conditions of the masses newly pouring into the cities from the countryside, they believed that only the physical LIQUIDATION of the bourgeoisie via continuing class warfare could remedy the situation and bring justice to the masses.
Even communists like Marx, Engels, and Lenin understood that prosperity, all those numbers that are thrown about in the US by Republicans, numbers such as GDP growth, employment, home ownership, etc. all came from the bourgeoisie. They knew full-well that the elimination of the bourgeois as a class would inevitably result in the wholesale collapse of all economic indicators and the impoverishment of the society as a whole. This was simply a price they were willing to pay for what they saw as a correction of historical social injustice. This is the reason that it seems to us that Democrats and Republicans are not talking the same language, not even inhabiting the same planet. It so seems to us, because it is true. The Democratic Party has recently completed its transformation to a fully communist party complete with the one key tenet of communist ideology: social justice trumps prosperity and is in fact antithetical to it. From this tenet it logically follows that prosperity is a BAD THING. 4% GDP growth? Bad. 1% is better. Stock market making new records every day? VERY BAD. Because rich people have more stocks and thus benefit more than the poor. Home ownership is at historic levels? A clearly undesirable outcome, because it means that more people are joining the ranks of the hated bourgeoisie, or as we now call them, the middle class.
The communist Democratic Party of America hates the middle class, just as the Bolsheviks hated the Russian bourgeoisie, because Democrats are neo-Bolsheviks and the American middle class closely resembles the enterprising and innovative Russian bourgeoisie of the early 20th century, a group of people that brought Russia unprecedented prosperity just before the revolution. It is difficult for a non-communist to understand, but Russia had a Bolshevik-Communist revolution not because it was doing poorly, but because it was doing well; not because it had a lack of prosperity, but because it had an excess of it.
So what is the endgame for communists, one may ask? Interestingly, it is a return to feudal society, but without the bucolic pastorals and the shiny armor. These are replaced by dreary half ruined apartment buildings and queues for “whatever they are giving today”. In the communist paradise, a new feudal class, the party nomenklatura owns the means of production (or as they would put it, administers them for the people), a small professional cadre assists with specialized tasks, and the rest of the folks toil, but without exerting undue effort and no more than forty hours a week.
Have you ever worked in a unionized workplace such as a public school or General Motors? Then you know what it means to work in a communist society. Have a great idea? Shelve it. Want to work harder, even for free? Be ready to be reprimanded because it will give management ideas and they will want everyone to work harder and smarter, God forbid. Just do your job, collect your pay and your benefits and go home.
America is on its way to becoming communist. One of the major parties already is. The so-called “deep state” is nothing but a Soviet-style nomenklatura, complete with its late-stage hereditary and nepotistic characteristics. A large and growing class of government and corporate employees resembles more and more the hordes of Soviet workers, working, some better, some worse, but not really exerting themselves to do anything extraordinary. Republicans and specifically Trump Republicans are trying to slow down and potentially reverse this trend. In support of this agenda, they are offering reams of undisputable data of the roaring American economy and the unequaled prosperity that was generated by one year of pro-bourgeois policies such as deregulation and tax reduction.
There is only one thing that Republicans are forgetting: communists hate prosperity. They hate it with a passion, because it is inevitably unequally distributed between the lazy and the enterprising. In short, communists understand, and that is the entire communist manifesto in a nutshell, that prosperity is inversely proportional to social justice, which has as its ideal nearly equal outcomes for the vast majority of people. If social justice is your goal as it is now for the American Democrats, prosperity must be reduced, not increased. Thus there is no middle ground between Republicans and Democrats. No compromise is possible between the American Constitution, the most powerful prosperity generating set of ideas ever put forth in human history, and the Communist Manifesto. And that is why not a single congressional Democrat voted for the tax cut bill this week. It wasn’t because it generates too little prosperity; it was because it generates too much.
And finally, as promised, let us revisit the outcome of the one and only (China was and still is a meritocratic dictatorship and should be discussed separately) mass-scale experiment with communism – the Soviet Union. Allow me to disagree with Russian president Putin and proffer the opinion that it was not the dissolution of the Soviet Union that was the greatest tragedy of the 20th century, but rather its creation. It was this event that led to the liquidation of the Russian bourgeoisie, one of the most creative groups of people to ever inhabit our planet. These were the people that gave us Chekhov and Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky and Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. Rocket science was pioneered in Russia by Tsiolkovsky and chemistry was immeasurably advanced by Mendeleev. These people did not come to be deus ex machina, they were the pinnacle of a thousand-year distillation process, a process that was brutally ended by people very much like Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. From this blow Russia will never recover. We must do all we can that the murderous ideology of communist social justice never comes to power in America.