The Paradoxes of working class of Russia and USSR

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AnythingForProximity
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Jan 25 2019 07:26
meerov21 wrote:
This one https://libcom.org/user/1
Todey i have done it second time!

I'd also try messaging individual admins: Steven, Juan Conatz, or, dare I say it, the ever-present Mike Harman.

meerov21 wrote:
I do not think that there is a big difference between ownership and control. An American researcher, economist John Gilbraith showed that managers, at least the top management of large corporations, are part of the social stratum that owns property.

Right, and that makes sense. Whether the managers are capitalists, workers, or even some mixture of both, they don't constitute a class of their own; they are recruited from one or more of the existing classes of capitalist society. They may enjoy particular benefits not available to others and they certainly perform a distinct social function, but they do not form a separate class, since they ultimately relate to the means of production either as capitalists (like you say) or as workers.

On the other hand, if we are going to say that in the USSR, the bureaucracy collectively owned the means of production, and therefore formed a class, we must be very careful about what that implies. One explanation is that the bureaucracy somehow autonomized itself (as suggested by Kautsky, who would claim in his late years that in the USSR, the State stood above both labor and capital) and constituted itself into a new class – that is the basis of all the "bureaucratic collectivism" / "managerial revolution" theories. However, then we face the problem of (1) postulating an entirely new mode of production totally unknown to classical Marxism1 and (2) suggesting that a class only constituted itself after coming to power.

The other option is that the Soviet bureaucracy corresponded to one of the historically known ruling classes. We both agree that the bureaucrats were not bourgeois, and I don't think that anyone would seriously argue that they were ancient Greece-style slave-owners or feudal lords, either. So what are we left with? The ruling class of the Asiatic mode of production, apparently. But that might not get rid of the problem either. I feel like my knowledge of Marx is insufficient here, but the impression I got is that he was unwilling to explicitly talk about classes in connection with the Asiatic MoP. In many places, he refers to the ruling minority in control of the Asiatic State as a "clique" or "higher community" rather than a class, and he stresses the communal ownership of land. Perhaps Zimin was on to something when he described the Asiatic MoP as a failed transition between classless and class societies that had some features of both.

I still think there is something to be said for the idea that despite the (admittedly convincing) appearances, the Soviet bureaucracy was not, in the strict Marxist definition of the term, a class.

meerov21 wrote:
I do not think that it is correct to absolutize nominal (formal) ownership of property. For ex. formally, according to the USSR constitution, the property was owned by the people of the USSR

I totally agree, and I'd further add that getting hung up on the purely nominal / formal existence of certain features of Soviet society has done great harm to Marxist analyses of the USSR. The Trotskyist conception of a degenerated workers' state is obviously the most egregious example, but Bordiga was guilty of this, too: it was enough for him that there were distinct enterprises in the USSR that paid their workers' "wages", put "prices" on their products, and generated "profits" while "trading" among themselves, and he never raised the question of whether the content of those forms was the same as in capitalism. (Then again, people like Chattopadhyay did raise that question and came to the conclusion that it was.)

meerov21 wrote:
The bureaucracy of the USSR was originally a product of the merger of the Bolshevik leaders and their party factions with a huge layer of tsarist officials. Although officially this movement in October-November 1917 took place under the slogan "All power to the Soviets", in practice, already in December, the influence of the Bolshevik central government began to grow (Council of People's Commissars - "Sovnarkom"). It dismisses the revolutionary armed detachments and creates centralized ministries and power structures, which are subordinate directly to the new government and to the Central Committee of the Bolsheviks: the Cheka, then the Red Army and GLAVKi (ministries). In all these structures, former tsarist officials and officers are absolutely dominant (with the exception of the Cheka).The Bolsheviks ruled the new-old departments only with the help of small cells (party groups), which they were able to introduce into the tsarist ministries, and these party cells were subordinate to the Central Committee. An alliance appears between the old tsarist bureaucracy and the new red bureaucracy.

That's a really important observation. If the Bolshevik-created state apparatus ended up absorbing the old Czarist bureaucracy, that would support Wittfogel's model of a "relapse" into the Asiatic mode of production after a brief revolutionary period that presented an opportunity for change.

  • 1. Indeed, this possibility was mostly advocated by people like Burnham who either had already abandoned the Marxist framework or would do so shortly thereafter.
meerov21
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Jan 24 2019 02:50

2 To Link

I think you're exaggerating the scale of nationalization in Western society after the second imperialist war. For example, I have seen figures according to which the public sector in Italy did not exceed 40%, and in England 25% of industry. Nevertheless, I agree with you there has been a high level of nationalization and state control in the West for several decades.

Some researchers describes the Soviet economy as a "mobilization" economy. As Mike Harman wrote to me "as when in war-time countries certain aspects of capitalist process are modified but not done away with. Who would say the USA ceased being capitalist during WW2?"

This is the most interesting question for me. The fact is that in the era of world wars, many authors wrote that capitalism is over! Theories of bureaucratic collectivism, military socialism, etc., appeared. Many wrote about it. Walter Rathenau, Ernst Jünger, Max Shechtman...

Some researchers, such as Shechtman, believed that a world war or the monopolism and the gigantism of modern capitalist production led to over-centralization of management and a concentration of resources in the hands of the state. So a state distribution of industrial products and food would lead to the transformation of capitalism into a system of totalitarian bureaucratic society based on central planning - "bureaucratic collectivism".

In Russia anarchist Andrei Andreev and some other people developed similar ideas but they did not associate these ideas with war. They believed that the class of owners can be replaced by a new class of exploiters - educated management, intellectuals. By the way, they voiced this idea half a century before John Kenneth Galbraith and his theory of industrial society, in which management plays a Central role, including state management.

Andreev believed that the left parties, with their ideas of a centralized state and a planned economy, really reject capitalism. But they do so not becouse they want create a classless society, but to put management in the place of exploiters. So for the left-wing parties, capitalists are "class enemies" as competitors in the struggle for control of property and for the right to exploit workers.

Andreev believed that within capitalism there were conditions for the maturation and development of a new exploitative but non-capitalist system, and the left parties are connected with the interests of new exploiters, who replaced the old ones, just as the capitalists replaced the feudal lords.

John Kenneth Galbraith the famous USA economist believed in the role of government in economic planning. He thought that the motivation of large corporations depends on the influence of "technostructure" or departmental management, and such corporations are governed by the desire for security and expansion, rather than the pursuit of maximum profit. In the book "Economic theory and social goals" J. K. Galbraith noted that corporations managed by the technostructure make up the planning subsystem of the economy, and small firms - the market subsystem.

Let me tell you what I think. I am not a fanatical proponent of the theory of the Asian moud of production in the spirit of Wittfogel or Baro. But I believe that this approach should be taken into account, as well as the theory of bureaucratic collectivism etc.

Currently, the spectacular counter-offensive of neoliberalism has thrown this opportunity away. But in the world of the future, we can see a new round of protectionism and world wars, hot and cold. And who knows what will become, for example, China? We can see the new rise of the masses in China, and why don't you let us see the new Mao or Qin Shi Huang?

Just... The concept of state capitalism raises too many questions to be considered basic. Realy! wink

meerov21
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Jan 24 2019 02:51

AnythingForProximity Thank you very much for your help and participation in the discussion. I'll answer you in a couple of days)

meerov21
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Jan 24 2019 02:56

AnythingForProximity also I answered you above in detail about the views of the Left SRs and their transformation towards anarchism.

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AnythingForProximity
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Jan 24 2019 15:01

Yeah, thanks for that, and also for the link to Pavlov's book!

Dave B
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Jan 26 2019 11:02

For discussion??

There are many problems associated with doing a detailed analysis of the “revolutionary” conditions in Russia circa 1900.

One is that Russia was not uniform ‘socio-economically’ so making generalizations is a flawed process and susceptible to selective presentations of facts; often to support a preconceived position.

Second would be that the peasantry, although they formed a majority of the population with active political engagement, are not discussed much in history books written in English.

And are often dismissed in derogatory quick fashion by [the majority] Bolshevik and ‘Marxist’ literature on the subject.

And as well Marx himself, as regards the ‘communist’ Mir peasntry etc, had an ‘incomplete’ understanding the economic conditions in Russia itself in the late 1800’s.

It wasn’t easy getting that kind of information out of Russia as the Tsarist autocracy wasn’t keen on meddling western liberals wandering around doing anthropology with the peasantry.

And when detailed information on the Mir first came out in 1847 Russian leftist tended to sugar coat it a bit, as a Slavophile counter narrative, to concepts that West was leading the way to communism and that the Slav’s were historically behind and reactionary etc etc.

The seminal work was done by the Bod below; and I think the wiki entry is reasonable.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August_von_Haxthausen

What was ‘overlooked’ was that peasantry organized their work ‘communistically’ and ‘co-operatively’ under conditions that they would provide an income stream, surplus value and surplus labour to the ruling class.

In the form of taxes, rent , labour rent and or corvee labour etc

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corv%C3%A9e

So making a bit of an analogy to the standard theoretical analysis of industrial capitalism?

It was a clever system as it didn’t require the ruling class and recipients of surplus value to directly engage in managing production and employing overseers to make sure the workers weren’t slacking.

And it optimized the ‘production’ process as the ‘workers’ themselves allocated work and the distribution of the collective ‘wage bill’ [gross production of the village commune ‘diminished’ by surplus value], on a ‘to each according to need and from each according to ability’ basis.

It would appear now from some fairly recent historical material that this kind of system was operating in some places in Europe in the ‘middle ages’.

Although contemporary material on the subject is rare; in a way the Russian Mir system offered ‘modern’ 19th historians and anthropologists a potential opportunity a glimpse as how past systems, buried in opaque history, might have worked.

Although it was still operating after that kind of ‘anarcho-syndicalist’ fashion in St Kilda as late as the 1920’s.

They did actually pay rent, perhaps in kind or as a portion of potential ‘cash crops’ to the McLeod landlord.

http://www.whatissocialism.net/general/examples-of-socialism/13-st-kilda...

There is a wiki entry on the Mir system below without a leftist socio-economic analysis?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obshchina

This entered into the leftist theoretical lexicon with Kropotkin and Karl’s letter[s] to Vera ‘trigger’ Zasulich.

Circa 1917 the peasantry themselves, including the first and second generation peasantry working in factories split into several positions.

Some wanted to, or took an ‘anarcho-syndicalist’, Kibbutz like position, of wanting to continue the 'traditional' Mir type commune system; without others creaming off surplus value.

They had notions of trading, exchanging or selling ‘surplus product’ as commodities to others thus it would be run as a kind of co-operative ‘business’.

That would be, making a sweeping generalization; the left SR position.

Other peasants took a more ‘petty bourgeois’ position of wanting to own their own family farm and run it as a ‘private’ self employed enterprise of simple commodity production.

Likewise the right SR position.

Many of these from elsewhere in Europe fulfilled that ambition by emigrating to the US in a free land grab and became as American as apple pie, eg the Ingalls?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_House_on_the_Prairie_(TV_series)

You could make the case I think that other emigrants to the US pursued a left SR position eg the Shakers?

https://marxists.catbull.com/archive/marx/works/1844/10/15.htm

A lot of the ‘Russian’ factory workers when they weren’t just ‘actual’ peasantry themselves doing seasonal work in the factories and mines etc and sending back remittances to family farms etc.

Were often only second generation factory workers still infused with 'peasant ideology'; of both types.

The family farm Right SR’s didn’t want their farms collectivized.

And the left SR’s didn’t, or wouldn’t want, their ‘anarcho-syndicalists’ communes collectivised under a ‘national’ system [or state either].

To some extent you could argue that the peasant left SR ‘anarcho-syndicalists’ ideology affected the industrial workers in the sense that they had ambitions to run appropriated industrial enterprises in a similar ‘Mir’ like way.

In fact you could argue that this [both] was an original or peculiarly Russian version of Proudhonism.

I am no state capitalist Leninist;

but Lenin did use Marxist theory to describe both the Ingalls position and the ‘anarcho-syndicalists’ position as ‘petty bourgeois’.

Under that analysis there is no difference between the two ‘SR peasantry’ apart from scale and the smaller and narrower nature of a family farm.

They would have no social relationships with the outside world other than the commercial exchange of commodities.

People in the cities or anywhere could be starving to death and they wouldn’t part with their surplus grain unless they would give them a good price for it.

I think Marx’s position is that with the full development of capitalism you get kind of ‘facts on the ground’.

The workers get used to the idea of not owning their own private means of production; be it the ‘private’ family farm or artisan linen weaving or tailoring business or something else.

And with the workers in a capitalist global market etc production becomes fully integrated.

Workers don’t sell steel to JCB excavators factories and the workers at JCB excavators factories don’t sell excavators to road builders.

So making an abstraction, and not having so much of commodity fetishism, one can perhaps more clearly see the potential for world co-operative production without the mediation of money or commodity exchange between individual productive units.

Or just one world ‘anarcho-syndicalist’ productive unit.

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Jan 27 2019 20:52

I would like for make some further comments on the issue of state capitalism as I think an understanding of the current situation is an important thing for militants. Only if there is a good analysis of contemporary society can an understanding contribute to the development of a revolutionary change ie if you don’t know what you is going on then you cant suggest the right way forward.

For me, understanding state capitalism and its role is very important. Meerov exaggerates the differences found in the USSR as opposed to state capitalism in the west – wages were paid for the work done by workers, workers bought their mean of subsistence shops (some state run admittedly) which were supplied by food production industries who sold their goods on a market. Both AfP and Meerov introduce complications into the discussion of the role of the state and the bureaucracy and basically ending up with the position that they don’t know what was going on in Russia.

It must be recognised that capitalism has changed markedly in the way it functions over the past couple of hundred years. No longer do we have private industry employing police forces and armies to control their workers and undertake colonial sorties. No longer even do we have nation states undertaking wars in search on the economic resources their economies can gain from colonies. This doesn’t mean capitalism no longer exists as both Meerov and AfP in effect imply. OK in its heyday when it was spreading rapidly and taking over the world’s economy, capitalism was more genuinely a system of “private property (initiative), market relations and hired labour. (Meerov post 27.)

Times have clearly changed since then and as capitalism achieved domination over the world in the early 20th Century, the internal structure of the nation state and the relationships between nation states started to change. The role of the state has grown enormously in this last 100 years and state capitalism is now the order of the day everywhere..

Imperialism is now the dominant relationship between nations in the world economy and is basically the economic (and ultimately physical) conflict between nation states that is managed by the nation state. The state has grown not only to manage the social problems that capitalism nowadays generates but the economic problems of the nation economy.

So today all nations are state capitalist even if the exact form varies. Most, nations are a mixture of private capital and state owned enterprises but the rules for the market place and the employment of workers are set by the state.
The implication that capitalism can only exist if there is private property market relations and hired labour on a free labour market without state involvement/control is patently unreal today. It suggests that when an individual nation moves towards a dictatorship (and presumably examples of that could be USSR, Nazi regimes in Germany, Spain or Italy, Chile or China or Philippines or Sudan or Saudi Arabia and son on) then they become something other than capitalist. No, that’s just nonsense.

Although we have clearly seen both in Russia and the west a trend to re-privatise the national economies, the state retains the major power in how the nation functions as a capitalism. The state has become ever more important. This is why for example we see Brexit as a conflict between primarly economic interests from private and public economy arguing with the primarily political interests of the brexiteers. So far the political arguments for letting the economy be run by London are winning. The same is happening in many countries where the populist nationalists are increasing influential in the state

I don’t quite understand what Meerov was saying about the period around WW2 but if can stress my point of view, all nation states took over the entire management of the nation economic and political systems so the state of play in the USSR and the west was the same during WW2. Imperialist war is not something separate to economic competition but the end result of it. The war economy is really the ultimate capitalism economy in this day and age.

The whole point about the dynamism of capitalist methods of production is that is automatically integrates non-capitalist and less dynamic economies into itself simply because the wealth that they have or can generate becomes more profitably used by investment in production and retail systems that are based on factory labour ie capitalist. And, if there was a new system more dynamic than capitalism it would take over the whole world very rapidly.

The issue of the state bureaucracy is not straightforward in the sense that there is no longer an easily identifyable set of private owners of industry, I admit. However neither is it too complex to understand that this state bureaucracy administers the economic and political life of each nation in a way that is entirely in accord with the development of industrial capitalism in this modern world economy. The only explanation that makes any sense is that that bureaucracy is part of the capitalist ruling class ( not as Meerov and AfP seem to suggest as some new undefined and mystery form of exploitative society).

meerov21
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Jan 27 2019 23:46

For me, understanding state capitalism and its role is very important. Meerov exaggerates the differences found in the USSR as opposed to state capitalism in the west – wages were paid for the work done by workers, workers bought their mean of subsistence shops (some state run admittedly) which were supplied by food production industries who sold their goods on a market. Both AfP and Meerov introduce complications into the discussion of the role of the state and the bureaucracy and basically ending up with the position that they don’t know what was going on in Russia.

You are talking about buying and selling as if there was a market in the USSR. But it is not. Some products could be bought on the market. But most people bought food, clothing and household appliances in government stores. The prices there were set not by the market, but by the state. Moreover, the state organized the supply of different cities in different ways, for example, in Moscow there were more food products than in other cities. The wages of the workers were also set not by the labor market, but by the state. In addition, the state from time to time lemited consumption, introducing cards. The state centrally redistributed products and labor between the districts. You speak of this as a capitalist economy, then you will find capitalism in China from the time of Qin Shi Huangdi or in the Yin-Shang Empire.

So today all nations are state capitalist even if the exact form varies. Most, nations are a mixture of private capital and state owned enterprises but the rules for the market place and the employment of workers are set by the state.
The implication that capitalism can only exist if there is private property market relations and hired labour on a free labour market without state involvement/control is patently unreal today.

There is a huge difference. In the case of the modern United States or France, the private sector absolutely dominates the economy, and market relations are decisive for pricing. Yes, of course, state policy can distort market impulses, but still these impulses work. Even in modern China, where the state plays a very important role in the economy, the private sector produces 60% of GDP and employs 70% of the population. In the USSR, the state itself redistributed products, set prices, etc., and at the same time, 95% worked in the public sector. These are different systems.

meerov21
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Jan 28 2019 00:05

As for the community (Mir), Lenin lied, calling the peasants "petty bourgeoisie". Most Russian peasants collectively owned the land. At the same time, they sold only a part of the products, while the other part was produced for self-consumption. But even that they sold they used to buy goods in the city. Is this bourgeois relations? Russian economist Chayanov dealt with this issue. These peasants were not private owners, did not accumulate capital and the majority did not hire workers. If These peasants are bourgeois, then Europe in the 12th or 14th century was bourgeois, because the majority of the population of Medieval Europe were the same or similar peasants. ))

The Russian community (the Mir) had an institution of self-government and yes, a significant part of the Russian workers had ideas of self-government, thanks to links with the village. However, at the same time, some skilled workers believed that they could better manage the plants then bosses.

The ideas of the left SR as many of the Russian anarchists were to convert the country into an association of self-government groups. Yes, at first, these communities would trade products, and then, through unions of production and consumer unions, would begin to plan production according to the needs of populatipn. This is not Proudhonism. The syndico-co-operative federation of the left SR must cover the whole country, and then Europe.

So what, do you think that you can build a classless society in another way? Direct communization in 1 minute is impossible. Either it will be as the left SR and the russian anarchists wanted, or the state apparatus will seize property and power and will exploit the workers, as Lenin did, relying on the old Tsarist bureaucracy.

ajjohnstone
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Jan 28 2019 05:25
Quote:
Some products could be bought on the market. But most people bought food, clothing and household appliances in government stores. The prices there were set not by the market, but by the state

Meerov, just how extensive was the black market or informal economy or shadow economy or underground economy or simply bribery and corruption in daily life? I have not done a particular study but it did struck me that it was central that reality and legality may well not be aligned.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_economy_of_the_Soviet_Union

Also came across this on the hidden unemployment
https://www.ucis.pitt.edu/nceeer/pre1998/1992-806-36-2-Moskoff.pdf

Dave B
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Jan 31 2019 22:24

I think I might want to put a kind of counter or other argument to my comrade “ajjohnstone” although we agree on most things.

The general view of course as Karl said somewhere about the definition of capitalism after he eventually got around to it late in volume III.

That it was about workers being ‘free’ to sell their labour power and buy whatever commodities they so choose on a market or whatever.

We like thus twist and turn and select our factoids that that happened in state capitalist
‘Stalinists’ Russia.

The idea that it wasn’t quite that straightforward and squaring the circle, so to speak, in Stalinist Russia can appear to be a problem I think.

State capitalism can clearly I think operate within a framework or platform of non state capitalism were workers are selling their labour power to the highest bidder and some or most capitalist enterprises are gearing themselves up and adapting to capture the revenue of disposable wages etc.

However does it have the propensity to ‘degenerate’? into something else or worse, as state capitalism gradually displaces ‘bourgeois’ capitalism?

Or does it completely say after 1926?

When perhaps a ‘truck system’ goes national and inescapable?

…..Secondly, truck systems are normally regarded as undesirable or illegal because they limit employees' ability to choose how to spend their earnings. For example, credit or company scrip might be usable only for the purchase of goods at a monopolistic company-owned store, at which prices are set artificially high and there is no competition to lower prices. Hence, a truck system relies on a closed economic system in which employees are: required to become indebted, subject to a retail monopoly in essential goods and/or considered unfree labour….

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truck_wages

In addition?

Then you could start to look at it as industrial serfdom or industrial non-wage slavery
?

As that might sound like a whacky idea.

By comparison we could start by looking at something historically and geographically ‘totally different’?

Other than Russia; the historical socio-economic traditional precepts in Russia in the middle to late 1800’s are relevant and I will get to that eventually.

The cotton/argricultural slave owners the southern states of the US were quite used to loaning out or renting out their slaves to other slave owners when their own had little to do and others needed them as was the way things often panned out.

No point in keeping them idle when there was potential work to be done elsewhere.

They sort of got used to this idea and it panned out to renting out slaves, on ‘mass’ to local industrial capitalists.

It was covered I seem to remember in ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’.

The remuneration system for the mass rented out slaves could be varied.

Sometimes it could be given in ‘wages’ by the industrial capitalist to buy their necessities on their very local market.

Sometimes not; and it was the responsibility of the slave owner to keep them ‘non market’ supplied as he would of done on his own estate.

It is dialectical; non black and white?

[They also had a ‘Hiring Out’ system where responsible skilled ‘Christian’ slaves with family as hostage would be ‘Free’ to go out and sell their labour power to anyone who would have it.

It is generally known but there was a wealth of detailed archived economic information on it from a US university that was using these people as cooks, cleaners and what not.

As well as stuff from New York ship repairers employing southern slave carpenters etc.

Moaning about how they could pay them less if their workers didn’t have to send back remittances to Mississippi plantation owners.

There is a kind of modern parallel with industrial capitalists having to pay workers extra money to pay off student debt to the ‘financial class’ and debt peonage?]

Oh yes I remember now, Russia and traditional state capitalism and serf industrial capitalism.

Mass industrial production in Russia probably started circs 1850.

From a state strategic militaristic perspective the Tsarist autocracy wanted to ‘tool’ up and have a railway network and an independent military industrial complex etc.

So they actually setup a fairly advanced locomotive works using as it happened imported US know how, and imported engineers.

And there was an associated metallurgical industry from local iron ore etc.

But the people working in these places were rented out serfs/slaves from the highly seasonal, northern hemisphere, agricultural workers.

So rather than chilling out and idle like in the winter and telling stories and playing Rousseau like ‘crude musical instruments’, they would be sent or rented out to gold mines etc.

Or state run ‘military industrial complex stuff’.

The ‘scumbag’ Karensky’ cut his teeth on this kind of thing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lena_massacre

The first indigenous capitalists proper in Russia, circa 1860, were as is common,
textile, entrepreneurs.

They as rouble millionaires would be institutionally or legalistically owned by the aristocracy.

Below is some stuff from Bukharin from circa 1920.

I think Bukharin was a total Bolshevik shit; but he was a clever bod for all that,

I think it is worth reading around the quotes I provide?

I think I can go along to some extent with that thing the Trot intellectual Titskin said.

“….. it wasn’t state capitalism, it was worse than that….”

…..State capitalism uniting and organizing the bourgeoisie, increasing the power of capitalism, has, of course, greatly weakened the working class. Under State capitalism the workers became the white slaves of the capitalist State. They were deprived of the right to strike; they were mobilized and militarized; everyone who raised his voice against the war was hauled before the courts and sentenced as a traitor. In many countries the workers were deprived of all freedom of movement, being forbidden to transfer from one enterprise to another. ' Free' wage workers were reduced to serfdom; they were doomed to perish on the battlefields, not on behalf of their own cause but on behalf of that of their enemies. They were doomed to work themselves to death, not for their own sake or for that of their comrades or their children, but for the sake of their oppressors……

http://www.marxists.org/archive/bukharin/works/1920/abc/04.htm

Here I must raise another question. If the working class does not regard industry as its own, but as State capitalism, if it regards the factory management as a hostile force, and the building up of industry as a matter outside its concerns, and feels itself to be exploited, what is to happen? Shall we then be in a position, let us say, to carry on a campaign for higher production? “What the devil!” the workers would say, “are we to drudge for the capitalists? Only fools would do that.” How could we draw workers into the process of building up industry “What!” they would say, “shall we help the capitalist and build up the system? Only opportunists would do that.” If we say our industry is State capitalism, we shall completely disarm the working class. We dare not then speak of raising productive capacity, because that is the affair of the exploiters and not of the workers. To what end then shall we get larger and larger numbers to take part in our production conferences, if the workers are exploited, and when all that has nothing to do with them? Let the exploiter look after that! If we put the matter in this light, not only shall we be threatened with the danger of estrangement from the masses, but we shall not be in a position to build up our industries. That is as clear as daylight.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/bukharin/works/1926/01/x01.htm

meerov21
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Feb 8 2019 12:11

Me
Some products could be bought on the market. But most people bought food, clothing and household appliances in government stores. The prices there were set not by the market, but by the state

ajjohnstone
Meerov, just how extensive was the black market or informal economy or shadow economy or underground economy or simply bribery and corruption in daily life? I have not done a particular study but it did struck me that it was central that reality and legality may well not be aligned.

Yes, that's a very good question. Residents of the late USSR bought part of the products on the market. These were most often the official markets that functioned in the late USSR. But the prices there were too high. I can say that my family and the families of everyone I knew usually bought food and most things in state shops.

meerov21
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Feb 8 2019 12:32

Dave B
Or does it completely say after 1926?

Why are You so fix attention on the Stalinist era, forgetting about the experiments of Lenin?

meerov21
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Feb 8 2019 12:31

Dave B
I think I might want to put a kind of counter or other argument to my comrade “ajjohnstone” although we agree on most things.
The general view of course as Karl said somewhere about the definition of capitalism after he eventually got around to it late in volume III.
That it was about workers being ‘free’ to sell their labour power and buy whatever commodities they so choose on a market or whatever.
We like thus twist and turn and select our factoids that that happened in state capitalist
‘Stalinists’ Russia.
The idea that it wasn’t quite that straightforward and squaring the circle, so to speak, in Stalinist Russia can appear to be a problem I think.
State capitalism can clearly I think operate within a framework or platform of non state capitalism were workers are selling their labour power to the highest bidder and some or most capitalist enterprises are gearing themselves up and adapting to capture the revenue of disposable wages etc.
However does it have the propensity to ‘degenerate’? into something else or worse, as state capitalism gradually displaces ‘bourgeois’ capitalism?
Or does it completely say after 1926?
[/i]

I don't really understand why you're starting to discuss this issue with "Stalinism". Lenin built the system of total centralized state control of production and distribution of goods from 1918 to 1921. All businesses including hundreds of thousands of small private businesses or cooperatives were nationalized. The distribution of goods was concentrated in the hands of the state. By 1921, Lenin had turned workers into serfs, depriving them not only of the right to strike, but also of the right to change jobs without permission of the state! Even the wives and children of the workers were forcibly attached to the factory canteen! There was no capitalism, there was some ancient system of slavery and state control in the spirit of ancient China or the distributive monarchies of Minoan Greece.

I will add that only a handful of top officials of this regime were Bolsheviks-Leninists. 90% of officials and managers worked in the tsarist bureaucracy in the past. This fact was not a secret from Lenin.

After the uprisings in Kronstadt and Western Siberia and after workers ' protests, workers gradually gained the right to change jobs at will and move around the country. Since the early 1930s, these rights began to be limited. From 1940 to 1956, workers and specialists of the USSR again turned into serfs slaves without the right to change jobs at will. I'm not even talking about the huge sector of slaves who worked in concentration camps (including prominent scientists like Korolev, who worked on rocket and space research).

Dave B
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Feb 8 2019 18:52

I am no fan or apologist of pre-stalinist and thus Leninist state capitalism.

However I think there was a ‘nuanced’ or perhaps just rhetorical difference between the command state capitalism of Stalin and the the commercial, ‘for profit state capitalism based on a market of the 1921?

3. The State Enterprises that Are Being Put on a Profit Basis and the Trade Unions.

The conversion of state enterprises to what is called the profit basis is inevitably and inseparably connected with the New Economic Policy; in the near future this is bound to become the predominant, if not the sole, form of state enterprise. Actually, this means that with the free market now permitted and developing, the state enterprises, will to a large extent be put on a commercial, capitalist basis. This circumstance, in view of the urgent need to increase the productivity of labour and make every state enterprise pay its way and show a profit, and in view of the inevitable rise of narrow departmental interests and excessive departmental zeal, is bound to create a certain conflict of interests between the masses of workers and the directors and managers of the state enterprises, or the government departments in charge of them. Therefore, it is undoubtedly the duty of the trade unions, in regard to the state enterprises as well, to protect the class interests of the proletariat and the working masses against their employers.

https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1921/dec/30b.htm

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donald parkinson
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Feb 8 2019 19:32

I don't understand why people are so terrified of the idea of "state-capitalism" as a transitionary phase. For Lenin, state-capitalism was considered an improvement of where they were at with War Communism, which was massively inefficient and corrupt but was able to unite the workers and peasants enough to win the Civil War, but not without massive political fallouts. The NEP was the period of the USSR with probably the most general pluralism, workers control, democracy and had achieved food stability. It was a far more effective general basis for transition than War Communism, and to expect Russia and beyond to go from a majority agrarian to communist country without a transition involving elements of state capitalism is a fantasy.

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Uncreative
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Feb 8 2019 21:19
donald parkinson wrote:
It was a far more effective general basis for transition than War Communism, and to expect Russia and beyond to go from a majority agrarian to communist country without a transition involving elements of state capitalism is a fantasy.

Hows that transition to communism in Russia going, out of interest? Fantastically, would you say?

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donald parkinson
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Feb 8 2019 22:09

The NEP system was destroyed by Stalin in what historians call his "Revolution from above".

meerov21
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Feb 9 2019 01:48

donald parkinson
The NEP was the period of the USSR with probably the most general pluralism, workers control, democracy and had achieved food stability. It was a far more effective general basis for transition than War Communism, and to expect Russia and beyond to go from a majority agrarian to communist country without a transition involving elements of state capitalism is a fantasy.

Unfortunately, you have no information about it. There was no democracy during the NEP. All opposition groups were banned and thousands of people (socialists and anarchists) were imprisoned. In 1923 repressions against opposition groups within the Bolshevik party began. Working control ceased to exist in 1918. I can only advise you to read the documents and Analytics, published in the collection of "Russia in the NEP" https://royallib.com/book/pavlyuchenkov_s/rossiya_nepovskaya.html , and in the collection of the "Labour opposition movement in Bolshevik Russia in 1918" http://communism21.org/books/%D0%A0%D0%B0%D0%B1%D0%BE%D1%87%D0%B5%D0%B5%... .

meerov21
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Feb 9 2019 02:31

I am no fan or apologist of pre-stalinist and thus Leninist state capitalism.
However I think there was a ‘nuanced’ or perhaps just rhetorical difference between the command state capitalism of Stalin and the the commercial, ‘for profit state capitalism based on a market of the 1921?

The Leninist system, which is called "war communism", was based not on the market, but on the attempt to destroy market relationship. Later in his work "НЭП и задачи Политпросветов". Lenin admitted that he and his party in 1918-1921 tried to build "Communist relations" in society. The party-state apparatus controlled all industrial production, conducting a total nationalization in the cities, as well as the state controlled the distribution of goods and labor.
But the Bolshevik leadership was forced to abandon this policy at the 10th party Congress in March 1921 after a wave of peasant and workers ' uprisings and protests.

The State Enterprises that Are Being Put on a Profit Basis and the Trade Unions.
The conversion of state enterprises to what is called the profit basis is inevitably and inseparably connected with the New Economic Policy; in the near future this is bound to become the predominant, if not the sole, form of state enterprise. Actually, this means that with the free market now permitted and developing, the state enterprises, will to a large extent be put on a commercial, capitalist basis. This circumstance, in view of the urgent need to increase the productivity of labour and make every state enterprise pay its way and show a profit, and in view of the inevitable rise of narrow departmental interests and excessive departmental zeal, is bound to create a certain conflict of interests between the masses of workers and the directors and managers of the state enterprises, or the government departments in charge of them. Therefore, it is undoubtedly the duty of the trade unions, in regard to the state enterprises as well, to protect the class interests of the proletariat and the working masses against their employers.

1. All this is a sort of propoganda or empty promises , except the fact that during the NEP state factories and associations (trusts) began to sell their products. So yes - that was " commercial, ‘for profit state capitalism" if you like.

2. But it initially did not lead to increased antagonism between the workers and the administration, but on the contrary softened this antagonism, because now the workers have an opportunity to eat))). In times of military communism, the workers were starving and many died of hunger, for example, Petersburg was transformed in 1921 to almost a dead city. Therefore, initially the workers took a positive transition to the market - naw they have the opportunity to eat normal food. Moreover: according to a study published by historian Sergei Yarov, workers were positive about the privatization of some factories, because there were higher wages.

3. In addition, in 1921, Lenin abolished serfdom for workers and allowed them to change jobs at will; it was achieved by strikers in St. Petersburg in February 1921. And it also softened the antagonism and reduced the workers ' protests.

4. Nevertheless, conflicts between workers and administration emerged periodically. But independent trade unions in Russia were banned by the Bolsheviks, and destroyed by them together with the Soviets and Workers ' control in 1918-1921. Formally, these institutions continued to exist, but in practice they are subordinate to party committees, and these committees fulfil the instructions of the Central Committee of the Bolshevik party. At the same time lovely party Central Committee continued to be the owner of the plants, i.e. the Supreme exploiter. Do you really think that in such circumstances, when trade unions and factories have the same owner, trade unions will protect the rights of workers? I hope you're joking...
Although, in practice, the official trade unions in some cases could support the workers.

5. Stalin made a turn from NEP to a system reminiscent of Lenin's military communism.

Dave B
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Feb 9 2019 08:26

I think we were talking earlier on to what extent in Russia post 1928? Gosplan;

workers were free to sell their labour power or ‘freedom to be exploited’ and be free wage slaves rather than ‘un-free’ ? wage slaves.

Or industrial serfdom, or just slaves owned by the state working in industry and with ‘modern’ technology?

Or ‘militarised serfdom’?

I think it reasonable to argue that the so called Stalinist 1928? Gosplan system or theory was a return to the so called ‘war communism’ or ‘Militarising the Economy’.

Trotsky was a leading advocate of it so you could say Trotsky was a Stalinist or Stalin was a Trotskyist.

The following document in this respect is or was quite important.

It is sort of from pre April 1920 and thus maybe late 1919.

. …….Socialist construction rejects in principle the liberal capitalist principle of ‘freedom of labour’, which in bourgeois society means, for some, freedom to exploit and, for others, freedom to be exploited. In so far as the fundamental task of social organisation is to overcome the external physical conditions inimical to man, socialism demands compulsory participation by all members of society in the production of material…..

https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1920/military/ch06.htm#fw01

It is not that long so is worth it even for our lazy Bolsheviks to give it a full read.

It was discussed a lot apparently by the magic circle of trot intellectuals in the 1930’s.

------------

Was;

…. Lenin admitted that he and his party in 1918-1921 tried to build "Communist relations" in society….

Connected to the so called subbotnik stuff?

V. I. Lenin, SPEECH DELIVERED AT, THE FIRST CONGRESS OF AGRICULTURAL COMMUNES AND AGRICULTURAL ARTELS DECEMBER 4, 1919

To bear this out, I would refer to what in our cities has been called subbotniks. This is the name given to the several hours' unpaid voluntary work done by city workers over and above the usual working day and devoted to some public need………….. that they may set an example of real communist labour, i.e., labour performed gratis.

http://www.marx2mao.net/Lenin/FCAC19.html

meerov21
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Feb 9 2019 20:53

I think we were talking earlier on to what extent in Russia post 1928? Gosplan;

Gosplan of the USSR was created in 1923
https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%93%D0%BE%D1%81%D0%BF%D0%BB%D0%B0%D0%BD...

I think it reasonable to argue that the so called Stalinist 1928? Gosplan system or theory was a return to the so called ‘war communism’ or ‘Militarising the Economy’.
Trotsky was a leading advocate of it so you could say Trotsky was a Stalinist or Stalin was a Trotskyist.

Yes, I think you're absolutely right. If you read the memoirs of Nikolai Valentinov, a Marxist, a senior economist of the Gosplan USSR , he assessed Trotsky's economic program in this way. The ideas of Trotsky and Stalin (from 1926-1927) differed only in terms of the structure of the Bolshevik party. But they had a lot in common in the economy. Also in his biography of Trotsky, his Secretary Isaac Doicher admitted that since the late 1920s Stalin's policy "fed on fragments of the ideas of the broken left opposition."

meerov21
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Feb 9 2019 21:17

It was discussed a lot apparently by the magic circle of trot intellectuals in the 1930’s.

In General, I must say that Trotskyism was originally a very colorful phenomenon. In the 1920s, it was an Alliance between some high-ranking Bolshevik oligarchs, like Trotsky himself and his supporters in various bureaucratic departments, part of the mid-level "apparatchiks" and some young Bolsheviks, dissatisfied with bureaucracy and corruption.

In addition, the national question was important among the Trotskyists there was a huge number of Jews concerned about Stalin's anti-Semitism. Recently, Russian historians found a document walled up in the prison wall with discussions of the arrested Trotskyists. This is a very interesting text, but I remembered it also because about 50% of these people were Jews.

These people criticized the censorship imposed by Stalin in internal party discussions and demanded freedom of factions. But I must also say that in the field of economy, they were in one form or another for a return to military communism. Evgeny Preobrazhensky, one of the companions of Trotsky, put forward even "the theory of socialist accumulation of capital", by analogy with the capitalist accumulation, requiring extra-economic exploitation of peasants with the purpose of growing state industry.

After Stalin began his new policy of industrialization, 2\3 Trotskyists and almost all of their leaders sided with Stalin. Moreover. Hundreds of Trotskyists received important positions in the "People's Commissariat of heavy industry" and actually led Stalin's economic policy of the industry. As I said, they agreed with some economic ideas of Stalin and Trotsky.

But it did not prevent Stalin to kill them all in 1937-1938.

A minority of Trotskyists in the 1930s broke up with the Bolshevik party and many went away from the ideas of Trotsky. They were no longer part of the ruling class. Some supported revolts of workers and peasants and get views close to the left social democracy or the left communism. All of them were also killed by Stalin; many after a heroic hunger strike in a concentration camp in 1937 or 1938.