NIKOLAI I. BUKHARIN (1888-1938) Russia
Next to Lenin, Bukharin was the most intellectually gifted among the Russian revolutionary leaders of 1917, and his pre-revolutionary writings on imperialism and the State anticipated many conclusions Lenin arrived and acted upon. His works included Imperialism and World Economy Theory of Historical Materialism (an account of Marxist sociology ) and ABC of Communism (1921,co-authored byEvgenii Preobrazhensky) remain a vision of a Communist Utopia that never had a chance to get off the ground by political events at home. A growing personality cult around Stalin had obviated need for it.
Bukharin allied at first with Joseph Stalin in the mid-20s and took the mantle of Nestor in the coterie around the Georgian. His high visibility as ideological spokesman of Socialism was to prove his downfall. In 1928-29 his *gradualist, pro-peasant economic policy collapsed he rejected Stalin’s solution of collectivization and allied with Trotsky-Zinoviev. His fall from power was complete with his liquidation in 1938. One glimmer of his immense talent wasted may be seen in 1936 Constitution, much of it was written by him but the democratic promise Soviet socialism would be negated by political and international events and the threat of Nazism.
Bukharin’s economic policies became more conservative as necessary to reap the fruit of revolution of 1917: his policy of gradualism was his belief that socialism in the Soviet Union could evolve only over a long period of gestation. His agricultural policies were also controversial. Bukharin’s theory was that the small farmers only produced enough food to feed themselves. The large farmers, on the other hand, were able to provide a surplus that could be used to feed the factory workers in the towns. To motivate the kulaks to do this, they had to be given incentives, or what Bukharin called, “the ability to enrich” themselves. From hindsight one may appreciate this idea was far ahead of the times.