In his article, “Karl Marx: A Brief Biographical Sketch with an Exposition of Marxism,” Lenin gives a brief summary of all three volumes of Marx’s Capital. Immediately afterwards, in the section titled “Socialism,” Lenin goes on to write,

The socialization of labor, which is advancing ever more rapidly in thousands of forms and has manifested itself very strikingly, during the half-century since the death of Marx, in the growth of large-scale production, capitalist cartels, syndicates and trusts, as well as in the gigantic increase in the dimensions and power of finance capital, provides the principal material foundation for the inevitable advent of socialism. The intellectual and moral motive force and the physical executor of this transformation is the proletariat, which has been trained by capitalism itself.

Thus, we’re given a materialist account for the rise of socialism. Socialism develops politically and socially as a product of the socialization of labor, as a result of capitalists bringing together ever larger groups of workers to accomplish ever more complex and technically advanced work while also subdividing the labor between them into ever smaller, ever more discreet tasks, disciplining and training workers to cooperate with one another in the process of production so as to increase production and maximize efficiency, etc. Under these conditions, it’s only a matter of time before workers begin to think not only about cooperating with each other in the struggle to advance their mutual interests as a class, but also about applying that training to the administration and organization of society in general.

Lenin concludes,

The socialization of production cannot but lead to the means of production becoming the property of society, to the “expropriation of the expropriators.”

Or as Marx and Engels put it earlier in the Manifesto of the Communist Party,

What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.

Do you find this materialist account of the eventual and inevitable rise of socialism compelling and/or persuasive?


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