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Such too are the methods Mr. Mikhailovsky employs when he argues against the Russian Marxists: without taking the trouble to formulate any of their theses conscientiously and accurately, so as to subject them to direct and definite criticism, he prefers to fasten on fragments of Marxist arguments he happens to have heard and to garble them.

Judge for yourselves: "Marx was too intelligent and too learned to think that it was he who discovered the idea of the historical necessity and conformity to law of social phenomena. The lower rungs" of the Marxist ladder [7] "do not know this" that "the idea of historical necessity is not something new, invented or discovered by Marx, but a long established truth" , "or, at least.

Mikhailovskys articles by contributors to Russkoye Bogatstvo. Anybody who has any knowledge at all of Marx will immediately perceive the utter falsity and sham of such methods. One may not agree with Marx, but one cannot deny that he formulated with the utmost precision those of his views which constitute "something new" in relation to the earlier socialists. The something new consisted in the fact that the earlier socialists thought that to substantiate their views it was enough to show the oppression of the masses under the existing regime, to show the superiority of a system under which every man would receive what he himself had produced, to show that this ideal system harmonised with "human nature," with the conception of a rational and moral life, and so forth.

Marx found it impossible to content himself with such a socialism. He did not confine himself to describing the existing system, to judging it and condemning it; he gave a scientific explanation of it, reducing that existing system, which differs in the different European and non-European countries, to a common basis—the capitalist social formation, the laws of the functioning and development of which he subjected to an objective analysis he showed the necessity of exploitation under that system.

In just the same way he did not find it possible to content himself with asserting that only the socialist system harmonises with human nature, as was claimed by the great utopian socialists and by their wretched imitators, the subjective sociologists. By this same objective analysis of the capitalist system, he proved the necessity of its transformation into the socialist system.

Exactly how he proved this and how Mr. Mikhailovsky objected to it is something we shall have to refer to again. That is the source of those references to necessity which are frequently to be met with among Marxists. The distortion which Mr. Mikhailovsky introduced into the question is obvious: he omitted the whole factual content of the theory, its whole essence, and presented the matter as though the whole theory amounts to the one word "necessity" "one cannot refer to this alone in complex practical affairs" , as though the proof of the theory is that this is what historical necessity demands.

In other words, saying nothing about the content of the doctrine, he seized only on its label, and again started to pull faces at that which was "simply the worn-out coin," he had worked so hard to transform into Marx's teaching. We shall not, of course, try to follow up his clowning, because we are already sufficiently acquainted with that sort of thing.

Let him cut capers for the amusement and satisfaction of Mr. Burenin who not without good reason patted Mr. Mikhailovsky on the back in Novoye Vremya , [32] let him, after paying his respects to Marx, yelp at him from round the corner: "his controversy with the utopians and idealists is one-sided as it is," i. We cannot call such sallies anything else but yelping, because he does not adduce one single factual, definite and verifiable objection to this polemic, so that however willing we might be to discuss the subject, since we consider this controversy extremely important for the settlement of Russian socialist problems—we simply cannot reply to the yelping, and can only shrug our shoulders and say: Mighty must the pug-dog be, if at the elephant barketh he!

Mikhailovsky has to say about historical necessity, because it reveals, if only partly, the real ideological stock-in-trade of "our well-known sociologist" the title enjoyed by Mr. Mikhailovsky, equally with Mr. He speaks of "the conflict between the idea of historical necessity and the significance of individual activity": socially active figures err in regarding themselves as active, when as a matter of fact they are "activated," "marionettes, manipulated from a mysterious underground by the immanent laws of historical necessity"— such, he claims, is the conclusion to be drawn from this idea, which he therefore characterises as "sterile" and "diffuse.

Mikhailovsky got all this nonsense about marionettes and the like. The point is that this is one of the favourite hobby-horses of the subjective philosopher—the idea of the conflict between determinism and morality, between historical necessity and the significance of the individual.

He has filled reams of paper on the subject and has uttered an infinite amount of sentimental, philistine nonsense in order to settle this conflict in favour of morality and the role of the individual. Actually, there is no conflict here at all; it has been invented by Mr. Mikhailovsky, who feared not without reason that determinism would cut the ground from under the philistine morality he loves so dearly. The idea of determinism, which postulates that human acts are necessitated and rejects the absurd tale about free will, in no way destroys mans reason or conscience, or appraisal of his actions.

Quite the contrary, only the determinist view makes a strict and correct appraisal possible instead of attributing everything you please to free will. Similarly, the idea of historical necessity does not in the least undermine the role of the individual in history: all history is made up of the actions of individuals, who are undoubtedly active figures. The real question that arises in appraising the social activity of an individual is: what conditions ensure the success of his actions, what guarantee is there that these actions will not remain an isolated act lost in a welter of contrary acts?

This also is a question answered differently by Social-Democrats and by the other Russian socialists: how must actions aimed at bringing about the socialist system attract the masses in order to yield serious fruits? Obviously, the answer to this question depends directly and immediately on the way in which the grouping of social forces in Russia and the class struggle which forms the substance of Russian reality are understood; and here too Mr. Mikhailovsky merely wanders all round the question, without even attempting to formulate it precisely and furnish an answer.

The Social-Democratic answer to the question is based, as we know, on the view that the Russian economic system constitutes a bourgeois society, from which there can be only one way out, the one that necessarily follows from the very nature of the bourgeois system, namely, the class struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. Obviously, criticism that is serious should be directed either against the view that ours is a bourgeois system, or against the conception of the nature of this system and the laws of its development; but Mr.

Mikhailovsky does not even dream of dealing with serious questions. He prefers to dispose of matters with vapid phrase-mongering about necessity being too general a bracket and so on. But then, Mr. Mikhailovsky, any idea will be too general a bracket if you treat it like an egg from which you throw out the meat and then begin playing with the shell! This outer shell, which hides the really serious and burning questions of the day, is Mr.

Mikhailovskys favourite sphere, and with particular pride he stresses the point, for example, that "economic materialism ignores or throws a wrong light on the question of heroes and the crowd. Mikhailovsky, and he evades it. On the other hand, the question of what relations exist between the hero and the crowd—whether it is a crowd of workers, peasants, factory owners, or landlords, is one that interests him extremely. Maybe these questions are "interesting," but to rebuke the materialists for devoting all their efforts to the settlement of problems that directly concern the liberation of the labouring class is to be an admirer of philistine science, nothing more.

Concluding his "criticism"? Mikhailovsky makes one more attempt to misrepresent the facts and performs one more manipulation.

Collected Works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Vol 32 Concludes Theories of Surplus Value

Having expressed doubt about the correctness of Engels opinion that Capital was hushed up by the official economists [34] a doubt he justifies on the curious grounds that there are numerous universities in Germany! Mikhailovsky says: "Marx did not have this particular circle of readers" workers "in view, but expected something from men of science too.

Marx understood very well how little impartiality and scientific criticism he could expect from the bourgeois scientists and in the Afterword to the second edition of Capital he expressed himself very definitely on this score. There he says: "The appreciation which Das Kapital rapidly gained in wide circles of the German working class is the best reward of my labours. Herr Mayer. The proof: "Individual good pages of historical content in the works of Engels, Kautsky and some others also as in the esteemed work of Blos might well dispense with the label of economic materialism, since" note the "since"!

To prove that the theory lacks foundation, Mr. Mikhailovsky first distorts it by ascribing to it the absurd intention of not taking the sum-total of social life into account, whereas quite the opposite is the case: the materialists Marxists were the first socialists to raise the issue of the need to analyse all aspects of social life, and not only the economic [8] —then he declares that "in fact" the materialists have "effectively" explained the sum-total of social life by economics a fact which obviously demolishes the author —and finally he draws the conclusion that materialism "has not justified itself.

Mikhailovsky, have justified themselves magnificently! This is all that Mr. Mikhailovsky advances in "refutation" of materialism. I repeat, there is no criticism here, it is nothing but empty and pretentious babbling. If we were to ask anybody at all what objections Mr. Mikhailovsky has raised against the view that production relations form the basis of all others; how he has refuted the correctness of the concept of the social formation and of the natural-historical development of these formations elaborated by Marx using the materialist method; how he has proved the fallacy of the materialist explanations of various historical problems given, for instance, by the writers he has mentioned—the answer would have to be that Mr.

Mikhailovsky has raised no objections, has advanced no refutation, indicated no fallacies. He has merely beaten about the bush, trying to cover up the essence of the matter with phrases, and in passing has invented various paltry subterfuges. We can hardly expect anything serious of such a critic when he continues in No. The only difference is that his inventiveness in the sphere of manipulations is already exhausted and he is beginning to use other peoples.

He starts out by holding forth on the "complexity" of social life: why, he says, even galvanism is connected with economic materialism, because Galvanis experiments "produced an impression" on Hegel, too. Wonderful wit! One could just as easily connect Mr. Mikhailovsky with the Emperor of China! What follows from this, except that there are people who find pleasure in talking nonsense?! Mikhailovsky continues, "which is elusive in general, has also eluded the doctrine of economic materialism, although this apparently rests on two pillars: the discovery of the all determining significance of the forms of production and exchange and the incontrovertibility of the dialectical process.

In other words, they base their sociological theories on Hegelian triads. Unable to advance any fundamental argument against the doctrine, these gentlemen fastened on Marx's manner of expression and attacked the origin of the theory, thinking thereby to undermine its essence. Mikhailovsky makes no bones about resorting to such methods. If, however, it sometimes happened that the development of some particular social phenomenon fitted in with the Hegelian scheme, namely, thesis—negation—negation of the negation, there is nothing surprising about that, for it is no rare thing in nature at all, and Engels proceeds to cite examples from natural history the development of a seed and the social sphere—as, for instance, that first there was primitive communism, then private property, and then the capitalist socialisation of labour; or that first there was primitive materialism, then idealism, and then scientific materialism, and so forth.

It is clear to everybody that the main weight of Engels argument is that materialists must correctly and accurately depict the actual historical process, and that insistence on dialectics, the selection of examples to demonstrate the correctness of the triad, is nothing but a relic of the Hegelianism out of which scientific socialism has grown, a relic of its manner of expression. And; indeed, once it has been categorically declared that to "prove" anything by triads is absurd, and that nobody even thought of doing so, what significance can attach to examples of "dialectical" processes?

Is it not obvious that this merely points to the origin of the doctrine and nothing more? Mikhailovsky himself sees it when he says that the theory should not be blamed for its origin. But in order to discern in Engels arguments something more than the origin of the theory, proof should obviously be offered that the materialists have settled at least one historical problem by means of triads, and not on the strength of the pertinent facts.

Did Mr. Mikhailovsky attempt to prove this? Not a bit of it. On the contrary, he was himself obliged to admit that "Marx filled the empty dialectical scheme so full with factual content that it can be removed from this content like a lid from a bowl without changing anything" as to the exception which Mr.


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Mikhailovsky makes here— regarding the future—we shall deal with it anon. If that is so, why is Mr. Mikhailovsky making so much fuss about this lid that changes nothing? Why does he say that the materialists "rest" their case on the incontrovertibility of the dialectical process?

Why, when he is combating this lid, does he declare that he is combating one of the "pillars" of scientific socialism, which is a downright untruth? It goes without saying that I shall not examine how Mr. Mikhailovsky analyses the examples of triads, because, I repeat, this has no connection whatever either with scientific materialism or with Russian Marxism.

But there is one interesting question: what grounds had Mr. Mikhailovsky for so distorting the attitude of Marxists to dialectics? Two grounds: firstly, Mr. Mikhailovsky, as the saying goes, heard the tolling of a bell, but whence it came he could not tell; secondly, Mr. Ad 1 [9] When reading Marxist literature, Mr.

Mikhailovsky constantly came across references to the "dialectical method" in social science, "dialectical thinking," again in the sphere of social problems which alone is in question , and so forth. In his simplicity of heart it were well if it were only simplicity he took it for granted that this method consists in solving all sociological problems in accordance with the laws of the Hegelian triad.


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  • Had he been just a little more attentive to the matter in hand he could not but have become convinced of the absurdity of this notion. What Marx and Engels called the dialectical method—as against the metaphysical—is nothing else than the scientific method in sociology, which consists in regarding society as a living organism in a state of constant development and not as something mechanically concatenated and therefore permitting all sorts of arbitrary combinations of separate social elements , an organism the study of which requires an objective analysis of the production relations that constitute the given social formation and an investigation of its laws of functioning and development.

    We shall endeavour below to illustrate the relation between the dialectical method and the metaphysical to which concept the subjective method in sociology undoubtedly also belongs by Mr. Mikhailovskys own arguments.

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    In confirmation of this I shall cite in extenso the description of the dialectical method given in Vestnik Yevropy , , No. Marx says that the method he employed in Capital had been poorly understood. The one thing of importance to Marx, it is there stated, is to find the law governing the phenomena he is investigating, and of particular importance to him is the law of change, the development of those phenomena, of their transition from one form into another, from one order of social relations to another.

    Consequently, Marx is concerned with one thing only: to show, by rigid scientific investigation, the necessity of the given order of social relations, and to establish, as fully as possible, the facts that serve him as fundamental points of departure. For this purpose it is quite enough if, while proving the necessity of the present order of things, he at the same time proves the necessity of another order which must inevitably grow out of the preceding one regardless of whether men believe in it or not, whether they are conscious of it or not.

    Marx treats the social movement as a process of natural history, governed by laws not only independent of human will, consciousness and intentions, but, rather, on the contrary, determining the will, consciousness and intentions of men.

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    This for the information of the subjectivist gentlemen, who separate social evolution from the evolution of natural history merely because man sets himself conscious "aims" and is guided by definite ideals. If the conscious element plays so subordinate a part in the history of civilisation, it is self-evident that a critique whose subject is civilisation, can least of all take as its basis any form of, or any result of, consciousness. That is to say, that not the idea, but the external, objective phenomenon alone can serve as its point of departure.

    Criticism must consist in comparing and contrasting the given fact with another fact and not, with the idea; the one thing of moment is that both facts be investigated as accurately as possible, and that they actually form, in respect of each other, different moments of development; but most important of all is that an equally accurate investigation be made of the whole series of known states, their sequence and the relation between the different stages of development. Marx rejects the very idea that the laws of economic life are one and the same for the past and the present. On the contrary, every historical period has its own laws.

    Economic life constitutes a phenomenon analogous to the history of evolution in other branches of biology. Earlier economists misunderstood the nature of economic laws when they likened them to the laws of physics and chemistry. A more thorough analysis shows that social organisms differ among themselves as fundamentally as plants or animals.

    Setting himself the task of investigating the capitalist economic organism from this point of view, Marx thereby formulates, in a strictly scientific manner, the aim that every accurate investigation into economic life must have. The scientific value of such an inquiry lies in disclosing the special historical laws that regulate the origin, existence, development, and death of a given social organism and its replacement by another and higher organism.

    Such is the description of the dialectical method which Marx fished out of the mass of magazine and newspaper comments on Capital , and which he translated into German, because this description of the method, as he himself says, is absolutely correct. The question arises, is so much as even a single word said here about triads, trichotomies, the incontrovertibility of the dialectical process and suchlike nonsense, which Mr. Mikhailovsky battles against so valiantly. Following this description, Marx says plainly that his method is the "direct opposite" of Hegel's method. According to Hegel the development of the idea, in conformity with the dialectical laws of the triad, determines the development of the real world.

    And it is only in that case, of course, that one can speak of the importance of the triads, of the incontrovertibility of the dialectical process. How, then, we may ask, should we judge a man who set out to criticise one of the "pillars" of scientific materialism.

    Can one assume only a lack of understanding in this case?


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    • Ad 2 [10] After this "criticism" of dialectics, Mr. Mikhailovsky imputes these methods of proving things "by means of" Hegelian triads to Marx, and, of course, victoriously combats them. Marx's arguments on the inevitability of the expropriation of the expropriators by virtue of the laws of development of capitalism are "purely dialectical. Perhaps, incidentally, he arrived independently at this way of garbling Marx? The Hegelian negation of the negation, in default of anything better and clearer, has in fact to serve here as the midwife to deliver the future from the womb of the past.

      The abolition of "individual property," which since the sixteenth century has been effected in the way indicated above, is the first negation. It will be followed by a second, which bears the character of a negation of the negation, and hence of a restoration of "individual property," but in a higher form, based on common ownership of land and of the instruments of labour.

      Herr Marx calls this new "individual property" also "social property," and in this there appears the Hegelian higher unity, in which the contradiction is supposed to be sublated" aufgehoben —a specific Hegelian term , "that is to say, in the Hegelian verbal jugglery, both overcome and preserved. It would be difficult to convince a sensible man of the necessity of the common ownership of land and capital, on the basis of credence in Hegelian word-juggling such as the negation of the negation The nebulous hybrids of Marx's conceptions will not, however, appear strange to anyone who realises what nonsense can be concocted with Hegelian dialectics as the scientific basis, or rather what nonsense must necessarily spring from it.

      For the benefit of the reader who is not familiar with these artifices, it must be pointed out expressly that Hegel's first negation is the catechismal idea of the fall from grace, and his second is that of a higher unity leading to redemption. The logic of facts can hardly be based on this nonsensical analogy borrowed from the religious sphere Herr Marx remains cheerfully in the nebulous world of his property which is at once both individual and social and leaves it to his adepts to solve for themselves this profound dialectical enigma.

      This does not re-establish private property for the producer, but gives him individual property based on the acquisitions of the capitalist era; i. The transformation of scattered private property, arising from individual labour, into capitalist private property is, naturally, a process incomparably more protracted, violent, and difficult than the transformation of capitalistic private property, already practically resting on socialised production, into socialised property.

      The state of things brought about through the expropriation of the expropriators is therefore characterised as the reestablishment of individual property, but on the basis of the social ownership of the land and of the means of production produced by labour itself. To anyone who understands German" and Russian too, Mr.

      Mikhailovsky, because the translation is absolutely correct "this means that social ownership extends to the land and the other means of production, and individual ownership to the products, that is, the articles of consumption. And in order to make the matter comprehensible even to children of six, Marx assumes on page 56" Russ. One portion serves as fresh means of production and remains social. But another portion is consumed by the members as means of subsistence.

      A distribution of this portion among them is consequently necessary. On page and the following pages" Russ. Before the capitalist era, petty industry existed, at least in England, on the basis of the private property of the labourer in his means of production. The so-called primitive accumulation of capital consisted there in the expropriation of these immediate producers, that is, in the dissolution of private property based on the labour of its owner.

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      This became possible because the petty industry referred to above is compatible only with narrow and primitive bounds of production and society and at a certain stage brings forth the material agencies for its own annihilation. This annihilation, the transformation of the individual and scattered means of production into socially concentrated ones, forms the prehistory of capital. As soon as the labourers are turned into proletarians, their means of labour into capital, as soon as the capitalist mode of production stands on its own feet, the further socialisation of labour and further transformation of the land and other means of production" into capital , "and therefore the further expropriation of private proprietors, takes a new form.

      That which is now to be expropriated is no longer the labourer working for himself, but the capitalist exploiting many labourers. This expropriation is accomplished by the action of the immanent laws of capitalistic production itself, by the concentration of capital. One capitalist always kills many. Hand in hand with this concentration, or this expropriation of many capitalists by few, develop, on an ever-extending scale, the co-operative form of the labour process, the conscious technical application of science, the methodical cultivation of the soil; the transformation of the instruments of labour into instruments of labour only usable in common, the economising of all means of production by their use as the means of production of combined, socialised labour.

      Along with the constantly diminishing number of the magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolise all advantages of this process of transformation, grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too grows the revolt of the working class, a class always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organised by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself.

      Capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which has sprung up and nourished along with, and under it. Concentration of the means of production and socialisation of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds.

      The expropriators are expropriated. Marx merely shows from history, and here states in a summarised form, that just as formerly petty industry by its very development, necessarily created the conditions of its own annihilation. This is the first negation of individual private property, as founded on the labour of the proprietor. But capitalist production begets, with the inexorability of a law of Nature, its own negation. It is the negation of the negation—and so on as quoted above. On the contrary: only after he has proved from history that in fact the process has partially already occurred, and partially must occur in the future, he in addition characterises it as a process which develops in accordance with a definite dialectical law.

      That is all. Mikhailovsky, who also asserts that with Marx the future rests exclusively at the end of the Hegelian chain and that the conviction of its inevitability can be founded only on faith. Mikhailovsky, however, has nothing to say about the above quoted absolutely definite and clear statements by Marx on what he conceives the dialectical method to be. Secondly, another peculiarity of Mr. Mikhailovsky's is that he concentrated all his attention on the use of tenses. Why, when he speaks of the future, does Marx use the present tense?

      You may find the answer to this in any grammar, most worthy critic: you will find that the present tense is used in stead of the future when the future is regarded as inevitable and undoubted. But why so, why is it undoubted? Mikhailovsky anxiously asks, desiring to convey such profound agitation as would justify even a distortion. But on this point, too, Marx gave an absolutely definite reply. You may consider it inadequate or wrong, but in that case you must show how exactly and why exactly it is wrong, and not talk nonsense about Hegelianism. Time was when Mr. Mikhailovsky not only knew himself what this reply was, but lectured others on it.

      Zhukovsky, he wrote in , had good grounds for regarding Marx's conception of the future as conjectural, but he "had no moral right" to ignore the question of the socialisation of labour, "to which Marx attributes vast importance. Zhukovsky in had no moral right to evade the question, but Mr. Mikhailovsky in has this moral right!

      Perhaps, quod licet Jovi , non licet bovi?! Postoronny [45] who, like Mr.

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      Mikhailovsky, regarded Marx's "conception" about the future as conjectural. As to the general character of this regime it is excellently expressed by the saying: Every man for himself, and God for all. Where does the social form of labour come in? And when such preposterous ideas are expressed in one of the, so far, best Russian magazines, they still want to assure us that the theoretical part of Capital is generally recognised by science. Yes, as it was unable to raise the slightest serious objection to Capital , "generally recognised science" began to bow and scrape to it, at the same time continuing to betray the most elementary ignorance and to repeat the old banalities of school economics.

      We must dwell on this question somewhat in order to show Mr.

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      Mikhailovsky what is the essence of the matter which he, by force of habit, has passed over entirely. The socialisation of labour by capitalist production does not at all consist in people working under one roof that is only a small part of the process , but in the concentration of capital being accompanied by the specialisation of social labour, by a decrease in the number of capitalists in each given branch of industry and an increase in the number of separate branches of industry—in many separate production processes being merged into one social production process.

      When, in the days of handicraft weaving, for example, the small producers themselves spun the yarn and made it into cloth, we had a few branches of industry spinning and weaving were merged. But when production becomes socialised by capitalism, the number of separate branches of industry increases: cotton spinning is done separately and so is weaving; this very division and the concentration of production give rise to new branches—machine building, coal mining, and so forth.

      In each branch of industry, which has now become more specialised, the number of capitalists steadily decreases. This means that the social tie between the producers becomes increasingly stronger, the producers become welded into a single whole. The isolated small producers each performed several operations simultaneously, and were therefore relatively independent of each other: when, for instance, the handicraftsman himself sowed flax, and himself spun and wove, he was almost independent of others.

      It was this and only this regime of small, dispersed commodity producers that justified the saying: "Every man for himself, and God for all," that is, an anarchy of market fluctuations. The case is entirely different under the socialisation of labour that has been achieved due to capitalism. The manufacturer who produces fabrics depends on the cotton-yarn manufacturer; the latter depends on the capitalist planter who grows the cotton, on the owner of the engineering works, the coal mine, and so on and so forth.

      The result is that no capitalist can get along without others. It is clear that the saying "every man for himself" is quite inapplicable to such a regime: here each works for all and all for each and no room is left for God—either as a super-mundane fantasy or as a mundane "golden calf". The character of the regime changes completely.