Kołakowski : In Stalin's Countries: Theses on Hope and Despair (1971) [page 2]
Let us, in the first place, sum up the main arguments usually advanced by those who hold that the Communist social system, in its present form, is unreformable.
The exponents of this thesis assert that the principal social function of this system is the maintenance of uncontrolled power, monopolized by the ruling apparat:
all institutional changes, which have already come about or which can be conceived, do not infringe upon this fundamental principle, to which all the political and economic actions of the rulers are subordinated.
The monopoly of despotic power cannot be partially suppressed ( this is almost a tautology since, by definition, a monopoly cannot be "partial").
None of the transformations which have occurred, or are conceivable within the framework of the system, is fundamental. All can be easily revoked, because they cannot be institutionalized without this leading to the destruction of the entire mechanism.
The satisfaction of the basic aspirations of the working class and the intelligentsia is impossible within the limits defined by the principal function of the system.
We are dealing with an organism entirely deprived of plasticity and self-regulatory devices. Only brutal and periodic catastrophes can bring about modifications which, except for superficial concessions and certain regroupings within the ruling cliques, leave no trace on the characteristic features of the whole.
Stalinism, in the strict sense -- that is, the bloody and cruel tyranny of an individual -- was the most perfect material embodiment, of the principles of the system:
later transformations, and particularly the considerable relaxation of terrorism as practiced by the government, although important for the security of individuals, have not in any way changed the despotic nature of the regime, any more than they have limited specifically socialist forms of oppression and exploitation.
The fundamental functions of this social system are directed against society, which finds itself deprived of any institutional form of self-defense: the only transformation which one can conceive of is that of a violent revolution.
Such a revolution would have as its outcome -- according to the hopes of some -- a socialist society, in the sense-defined by Marxist tradition ( that is, social administration of the processes of production and distribution, implying a representative system ),
or -- according to the hopes of others -- transition to the Western model of capitalism which, in face of the economic and ideological failure of socialism, is thought to be the only trustworthy way of development.
Let us examine the principal characteristics of the Soviet model of socialism. According to some people, these are such as to nullify the hope of a partial, progressive "humanization," resulting from successive reforms.
( We are dealing here with " structural " characteristics to be found in all countries with a regime based on the Soviet model. )