Lenin acknowledging the intentional implementation of State Capitalism in the USSR

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ajjohnstone
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Mar 28 2011 13:31

"nice, i love to be referenced to be in the same tradition as Stalin."

Perhaps in his 1907 persona you would.

Quote:
" What is proletarian socialism?
The present system is a capitalist system. This means that the world is divided up into two opposing camps, the camp of a small handful of capitalists and the camp of the majority -- the proletarians. The proletarians work day and night, nevertheless they remain poor. The capitalists do not work, nevertheless they are rich. This takes place not because the proletarians are unintelligent and the capitalists are geniuses, but because the capitalists appropriate the fruits of the labour of the proletarians, because the capitalists exploit the proletarians.
Why are the fruits of the labour of the proletarians appropriated by the capitalists and not by the proletarians? Why do the capitalists exploit the proletarians and not vice versa?
Because the capitalist system is based on commodity production: here everything assumes the form of a commodity, everywhere the principle of buying and selling prevails. Here you can buy not only articles of consumption, not only food products, but also the labour power of men, their blood and their consciences. The capitalists know all this and purchase the labour power of the proletarians, they hire them. This means that the capitalists become the owners of the labour power they buy.The proletarians, however, lose their right to the labour power which they have sold. That is to say, what is produced by that labour power no longer belongs to the proletarians, it belongs only to the capitalists and goes into their pockets. The labour power which you have sold may produce in the course of a day goods to the value of 100 rubles, but that is not your business, those goods do not belong to you, it is the business only of the capitalists, and the goods belong to them -- all that you are due to receive is your daily wage which, perhaps, may be sufficient to satisfy your essential needs if, of course, you live frugally. Briefly: the capitalists buy the labour power of the proletarians, they hire the proletarians, and this is precisely why the capitalists appropriate the fruits of the labour of the proletarians, this is precisely why the capitalists exploit the proletarians and not vice versa.
But why is it precisely the capitalists who buy the labour power of the proletarians? Why do the capitalists hire the proletarians and not vice versa?
Because the principal basis of the capitalist system is the private ownership of the instruments and means of production. Because the factories, mills, the land and minerals, the forests, the railways, machines and other means of production have become the private property of a small handful of capitalists. Because the proletarians lack all this. That is why the capitalists hire proletarians to keep the factories and mills going -- if they did not do that their instruments and means of production would yield no profit. That is why the proletarians sell their labour power to the capitalists -- if they did not, they would die of starvation...

...There can be no doubt that future society will be built on an entirely different basis.
Future society will be socialist society. This means primarily, that there will be no classes in that society; there will be neither capitalists nor proletarians and, con sequently, there will be no exploitation. In that society there will be only workers engaged in collective labour.
Future society will be socialist society. This means also that, with the abolition of exploitation commodity production and buying and selling will also be abolished and, therefore, there will be no room for buyers and sellers of labour power, for employers and employed -- there will be only free workers.
Future society will be socialist society. This means, lastly, that in that society the abolition of wage-labour will be accompanied by the complete abolition of the private ownership of the instruments and means of production; there will be neither poor proletarians nor rich capitalists -- there will be only workers who collectively own all the land and minerals, all the forests, all the factories and mills, all the railways, etc.
As you see, the main purpose of production in the future will be to satisfy the needs of society and not to produce goods for sale in order to increase the profits of the capitalists. Where there will be no room for commodity production, struggle for profits, etc.
It is also clear that future production will be socialistically organised, highly developed production, which will take into account the needs of society and will produce as much as society needs. Here there will be no room whether for scattered production, competition, crises, or unemployment.
Where there are no classes, where there are neither rich nor poor, there is no need for a state, there is no need either for political power, which oppresses the poor and protects the rich. Consequently, in socialist society there will be no need for the existence of political power..."

Anarchism or Socialism Stalin 1907

This pre-revolution article he wrote puts paid to the idea that Stalin had no idea what Socialism was . He fully understood it . But like Lenin , he had to change his Marxism to fit in with the reality of what Russia was and what it was turning into .
Engels does a good job of explaining this Bolshevik "schizophrenia" of how black became white and State-capitalism became Socialism .

Quote:
"...The worst thing that can befall a leader of an extreme party is to be compelled to take over a government in an epoch when the movement is not yet ripe for the domination of the class which he represents and for the realisation of the measures which that domination would imply. What he can do depends not upon his will but upon the sharpness of the clash of interests between the various classes, and upon the degree of development of the material means of existence, the relations of production and means of communication upon which the clash of interests of the classes is based every time. What he ought to do, what his party demands of him, again depends not upon him, or upon the degree of development of the class struggle and its conditions. He is bound to his doctrines and the demands hitherto propounded which do not emanate from the interrelations of the social classes at a given moment, or from the more or less accidental level of relations of production and means of communication, but from his more or less penetrating insight into the general result of the social and political movement. Thus he necessarily finds himself in a dilemma. What he can do is in contrast to all his actions as hitherto practised, to all his principles and to the present interests of his party; what he ought to do cannot be achieved. In a word, he is compelled to represent not his party or his class, but the class for whom conditions are ripe for domination. In the interests of the movement itself, he is compelled to defend the interests of an alien class, and to feed his own class with phrases and promises, with the assertion that the interests of that alien class are their own interests. Whoever puts himself in this awkward position is irrevocably lost..."

The Peasant War in Germany Engels 1850
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Noa Rodman
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Mar 28 2011 13:37

damn ajjohn beat me to that Engels quote. It is also given by Plekhanov in his pamphlet against the Narodnaya Volya in Our differences (1885), section 5. Probable Consequences of the Seizure of Power by the Socialists

slothjabber
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Mar 28 2011 15:34
Dave B wrote:
I think the issue was then that a country could not be part of multinational socialism until it had sufficiently advanced industrially and economically.

That is not the same as saying that one country could be socialist on its own once it had had sufficiently advanced industrially and economically.

Just how many advanced industrial countries you need in the world before international socialism becomes viable is another question and argument that will change over time.

If one advanced and industrialised country is politically ready for socialism before the rest I would not advocate state capitalism.

It is an old chestnut of an argument about alternatives and we have it regularly.

But it is spurious time wasting to introduce that argument in reference to Russia in 1917 as it was disqualified and excluded from it...

My view is that socialism is not possible until capitalism has been defeated, worldwide. I wasn't aware that the SPGB position is that socialism in one country is possible. I'm quite surprised by that.

Dave B wrote:
...The parties and individuals of the European left that opposed the war throughout, like the SPGB, were exceptional as in the use of the word not ordinary or uncommon...

If you're not using 'exceptional' to mean 'an exception' then I don't know what you mean by it. I didn't know what you meant when you first used it. I still don't. If you mean 'the Mensheviks considered themselves on the left of the IInd International and attended the Zimmerwald Conference', then fine, say that.

Dave B wrote:
..I would have thought that was obvious from what I said otherwise the Zimmerwald would have been the Mensheviks, which would have been palpably absurd even as an inference

That sentence makes sense if one puts the word 'Conference' after Zimmerwald, so I'll assume that's what you meant to do. Yes, it would be absurd to claim that only the Mensheviks were at Zimmerwald, which is why I wonder why you did it.

Harrison Myers wrote:
...
nice, i love to be referenced to be in the same tradition as Stalin...

Happens to the best of us, I was accused by Noa of being a Stalinist for linking Menshevism with Stalinism.

Harrison Myers wrote:
...
The point is, and Marx himself recognised this, that a region or country needs a certain material abundance and level of industrial development before socialism (even the lower phase) is possible. So by your logic, old Karl is a Stalinist too...

If Marx had lived into the 20th century and then claimed that a single country could become socialist on its own, then yes I'd call him a Stalinist. Stalinism is the belief in socialism in one country. Therefore, people who believe in socialism in one country are Stalinists, though they may not have realised it.

Harrison Myers wrote:
...
What i am saying is that socialism has to be established somewhere first, but if it does not spread exponentionally it will fail.
I do not believe the stalinist ideology that preaches 'Socialism in one country' to be possible indefinitely...

Then we fundamentally disagree about what socialism is. It is emphatically not statisation of the economy in the middle of a global civil war. It is not a revolutionary process to overthrow capitalism. It's not a transition from capitalism to anything else. It's the establishment of a new society.

Harrison Myers wrote:
...does the economic base of society even mean a thing to you? Socialism is (crudely) defined by the workers owning the means of production. if the state owns the means of production, it is not socialism as a real state cannot be an instrument of proletarian power. The only instruments of proletarian power are assemblies and delegate councils (what they are named is inconsequential)...

Socialism is not 'workers owning the means of production'. Socialism is a classless communal society without states or money which functions on the principle of 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his need'. This must be established globally, not in one country.

I absolutely agree that if the state owns the means of production, if indeed there is a state at all, if there are classes, it is not socialism, this I rather thought was the point of the vast amount of posts I'd been making.

Harrison Myers wrote:
... The only instruments of proletarian power are assemblies and delegate councils (what they are named is inconsequential). These can exist in one country for a short period...

I utterly disagree. The workers' councils are the basis of the new society. What on earth could you see that could replace the workers' councils?

Harrison Myers wrote:
...
if you noticed, i was not suggesting that conventional wars are a path to socialism. i am not a stalinist. i was only referring specifically to situation of Brest-Litovsk and the German economy.
,,,

You were specifically advocating that the Bolshevik-dominated state (that you disapprove of) would have been more acceptable to you if it had forced Russian workers to kill German workers.

Think very hard about what you are saying, please.

Harrison Myers wrote:
...
Ok, but how can the working class regain political power once that state has been established? That would take a whole other revolution and civil war, similiar to the 'third revolution' hoped for by the supporters of Kronstadt...

If a 'third revolution' is necessary then a 'third revolution' is what we must do. I support the Kronstadt rising. It was a working class reaction to the degeneration of the revolutiomn, if the revolution degenerates it must be renewed, if the administration of the revolutionary territory acts in a counter-revolutionary manner it must be opposed. That's why the working class must be constantly on guard. I can't see why you want to disarm them, except in so far as it then makes it easier to dragoon them behind the state (that you don't think exists) in order to kill workers from non-liberated areas.

Congratualations, you've now moved from socialism in one country to the creation of the Red Army.

Harrison Myers wrote:
...I am perhaps inclined to a vaguely Lenin-sympathetic view that if he hadn't died he could have overseen Russia's economic development and then handed power back to worker's councils. But I think this totally highlights the dangerous reliance upon the good-will of the bureaucracy, and i'm pretty sure in any such system there would be plenty of Stalins waiting for their chance...

There again you are only thinking in national terms. Why 'Russia's economic development'? As the world revolution extends, as more and more of the world goes over to the revolution, where will 'Lenin' be? Sitting in a corner going 'ha! I was first, this is my socialist bit seperate from the world revolution!'? Perhaps becoming a world-striding collossus like the Devil in Fantasia, with his little goatee swelled to enormous size, shouting 'hah! Now I am Comrade First Secretary of the World!'?

The soviets died because of three reasons, in my estimation, but primarily because the revolution did not spread. Even with the total f***-up of Bolshevik state capitalism, even with the disaster of the Civil War in Russia, the revolution (that is, the soviets, rather than the Bolsheviks) could have been saved and rejuvinated if the revolution had spread to Germany. Even if Lenin had been Hitler, the world revolution would have saved the soviets.

Harrison Myers wrote:
...
Much better just to retain worker's councils and let them regulate production, fight the civil war and organise technical development / the strengthening of industry. Plus the morale increase from the worker's actually controlling society is massive, unlike 'hooray we've overthrown the capitalists over here, but we've only got a shitty state-capitalist system'...

Who does the 'retaining' and the 'letting'? The workers' councils are the revolution. The are the means and the end. I don't understand your train of thought. I can only read this as 'the workers' councils retain the workers' councils', or 'the state (that you don't think exists) retains the workers' councils'. The working class, organising itself in the workers' councils, runs society; it takes on certain functions of the state.

Harrison Myers wrote:
...
Any state (apart from a council/soviet system, which is debatable over whether it is a state) is of necessity a dictatorship over the proletariat, because it has a monopoly on the use of force. And if it does, there is no way to 'keep on guard' that it doesn't err from its purpose, as the workers have no way to exercise power over it (military or democratic)...

In the revolutionary period and civil war, while there is a bourgeoisie to suppress, yes it is a state; a state is the tool for one class to suppress another. When the civil war with capital is over, there are no more classes because there is no more private property to produce classes; when there are no more classes, there will be no more state, when there is no more state ('the withering away of the state' in Engels' words) the soviets can move from 'the governance of people to the administration of things'.

Harrison Myers wrote:
...

Your view totally lacks any connection between theory and reality .... What to you do the worker's councils and other natural forms of proletarian self-governance represent? .... Some embarrassing 'childishness' on the part of the workers that needs to be destroyed and replaced ASAP with a central state until the revolution magically breaks out internationally? This is a pretty poor view of the worker's fight, and one that is more suitable for a rising bourgeoisie.

Where does that come from? You're the one fantasising about "allowing" workers' councils to manage production while the state gets on with business of killing German workers. The soviets, I say again, are the revolution. That's the point.

For the international power of the workers' councils!

Harrison
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Mar 28 2011 16:46

hey, i enjoyed reading that Engels quote and some of the Plekhanov writing. my favourite line from it:

Plekhanov wrote:
Whenever you say “exchange” you imply “commodity”, and if you retain commodities, you presuppose all the contradictions inherent in the commodity.

er Slothjabber, i'm not sure you read my post properly, either that or i did not make myself clear. i agree with you on tonnes of things, but these are the things i don't agree with:

1. soviets can do everything that a state-capitalist regime can do (holding action, civil war etc), without the potential counter-revolutionary aspect. it is always better to hang on to proletarian power than subvert it to introduce state-capitalism, however brutal the war against capital.

2. the point I was trying to make is not that revolutionary russia should have given way to German militarism, but should have maintained the economic pressure on the German regime, and especially should have refused to cede all that land to the Kaiser in surrender. If you are a Luxemburgist, you should read The Russian Tragedy:

Rosa Luxemburg wrote:
And yet these calculations largely overlooked the most crucial factor, namely German militarism, to which Russia surrendered unconditionally through the separate peace. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was in reality nothing but the capitulation of the revolutionary Russian proletariat to German militarism. Admittedly Lenin and his friends deluded neither themselves no other about the facts.

It was far more internationalist to help their German comrades by opposing German militarism.

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devoration1
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Mar 28 2011 17:08
Quote:
It was far more internationalist to help their German comrades by opposing German militarism.

The point being made is that the suppositions of the communist revolutionaries that the armed worker's and soldier's militias could keep the Central Powers bogged down and at bay while the German workers rose up following the Russian example did not come to fruition. The worker's and solider's militias, outside the discipline and chain-of-command and militarist expertise of the old Tsarist officer corps would have lost everything if Brest-Litovsk hadn't been signed. The RSFSR and the soviets would've been annhiliated and all of the former Russian Empire turned into German puppet states and pseudo-principalities (a vision that was to be repeated by Rosenberg's faction during WWII).

The last line in that Luxemburg quote says volumes:

Quote:
Admittedly Lenin and his friends deluded neither themselves no other about the facts.

the facts; reality on the ground. This is why I still think Bukharin is the most valuable figure to learn from for the whole October Revolution and its degeneration. It's difficult to appreciate the confusion and disorganization of a revolutionary situation. While all hell was breaking loose in Berlin and soviets were popping up, and the USPD and Spartakists were arming the workers, huge industrial centers of Germany were all quiet and peaceful as if there were no 'revolution'. Were these workers, passive and not interested in the trouble in Berlin, supposed to be the ones to rise up and demolish German capital and militarism and save the world revolution? The Bolsheviks thought so- until they figured out reality doesn't bend to theory; and then you get the flood of opportunism.

Harrison
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Mar 28 2011 18:18
devoration1 wrote:
the facts; reality on the ground. This is why I still think Bukharin is the most valuable figure to learn from for the whole October Revolution and its degeneration. It's difficult to appreciate the confusion and disorganization of a revolutionary situation. While all hell was breaking loose in Berlin and soviets were popping up, and the USPD and Spartakists were arming the workers, huge industrial centers of Germany were all quiet and peaceful as if there were no 'revolution'. Were these workers, passive and not interested in the trouble in Berlin, supposed to be the ones to rise up and demolish German capital and militarism and save the world revolution? The Bolsheviks thought so- until they figured out reality doesn't bend to theory; and then you get the flood of opportunism.

if you read a bit further she exposes her whole argument;

Rosa Luxemburg wrote:
They candidly admitted their capitulation. Unfortunately, they did deceive themselves in hoping to purchase a genuine respite at the price of this capitulation, to enable them to save themselves from the hellfire of the world war by means of a separate peace. They did no take into account the fact that the capitulation of Russia at Brest-Litovsk meant an enormous strengthening of the imperialist Pan-German policy and thus a lessening of the chances for a revolutionary rising in Germany. Nor did they see that this capitulation would bring about not the end of the war against Germany, but merely the beginning of a new chapter of this war.

In fact the ‘peace’ of Brest-Litovsk is an illusion. Not for a moment was there peace between Russia and Germany. War has continued since Brest-Litovsk up to the present time, but the war is a unique one, waged only by one side: systematic German advance and tacit Bolshevik retreat, step by step. Occupation of the Ukraine, Finland, Lithuania, Estonia, the Crimea, the Caucasus, larger and larger tracts of the southern Russia – this is the result of the ‘state of peace’ since Brest-Litovsk.

and also, although she is referring to the Brest-Litovsk this is a pretty good view to apply to state-capitalism:

Rosa Luxemburg wrote:
Any political destruction of the Bolsheviks in a honest struggle against the overwhelming forces and hostile pressures of the historical situation would be preferable to the moral destruction.

interestingly, this seems like a very early loose prediction of the Hitler and the NSDAP:

Rosa Luxemburg wrote:
Any child can see that Germany is only waiting for an opportunity of combining with a Milyukov, a Hetman or God knows what other obscure gentleman and political dabblers, to put an end to the Bolshevik splendor.

apologies that my argument has devolved into quoting, but i'm falling behind with real life stuff

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devoration1
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Mar 28 2011 20:09

I still think the assumption there was a viable alternative is too much of a stretch. The policy advocated by some left communists and Left SR's of a revolutionary guerilla war of armed worker's and peasant's against Prussian Militarism was a fantasy. The Germans decimated all 'revolutionary detachments' sent at them by the communists and revolutionary government- Moscow and Petrograd would have fallen in short order had the war not been ended. There was no alternative. It was buy time with unfavorable conditions or lose everything in a blaze of glory (a euphemism for the wholesale slaughter of the 'flower of the proletariat'). The cost of Brest-Litovsk was much higher than the original peace treaty offered by the Central Powers- but not signing it would've resulted in the revolutionary wave ending even earlier than it did. It would've been SIDS instead of infanticide smile

I think Luxemburg puts too much weight for the situation in Germany on the Bolsheviks. Russia could not make the German revolution- the most they could do was put the proletarian revolution on the agenda; which they did. The failures of the German communists were theirs to make.

ajjohnstone
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Mar 29 2011 03:59

"I wasn't aware that the SPGB position is that socialism in one country is possible. I'm quite surprised by that."

It isn't the SPGB position and i am not sure DaveB was actually saying it is. I think he was referring to just how many countries are required for socialism to be viable in the sense that it is not necessary for 100% of the world to develop the pre-requisites for socialism before it can be established and leaving it up to debate - the uneven development theories and suggesting if in the unlikely event of one country being politically ready for socialism , the half way house that might be suggested by some, ie state capitalism would not be an option.

The establishment of socialism is not a race between national sections to see who can get there first, but a co-ordinated world movement to ensure that we all get there at more or less the same time. If there is any uneven development it will be up to the world socialist movement to decide what to do.

As we said in our pamphlet Questions of the Day

Quote:
"Socialists are sometimes asked about another aspect of uneven development. This relates to the possibility that the socialist movement could be larger in one country than in another and at the stage of being able to gain control of the machinery of government before the socialist movements elsewhere were as far advanced.
Leaving aside for the moment the question as to whether such a situation is likely to arise, we can say that it presents no problems when viewed against the world-wide character of the socialist movement. Because capitalist governments are organised on a territorial basis each socialist organisation has the task of seeking democratically to gain political control in the country where it operates. This however is merely an organisational convenience; there is only one socialist movement, of which the separate socialist organisations are constituent parts. When the socialist movement grows larger its activities will be fully co-ordinated through its world-wide organisation. Given a situation in which the organised socialists of only a part of the world were in a position to gain control of the machinery of government, the decision about the action to be taken would be one for the whole of the socialist movement in the light of all the circumstances at the time."
ajjohnstone
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Mar 29 2011 04:31

As for the references to the SPGB being Menshevik, that has to be clarified, certainly because the fact that the Mensheviks included a variety of postions but i suppose it is of the stageism interpretation of the establishment of socialism that was accepted by all of Russian social democracy including Lenin and the Bolsheviks at one time - the arguement that Russia could not jump to socialism without going through capitalism - could be the position ascribed to the SPGB.

The SPGB was certainly more sympathetic to Julius Martov's position than to Lenin's in the debate about the need for democracy and conscious understanding .

Quote:
Socialism, he argued, could only be achieved by a politically conscious working class. It is the experience of workers under capitalism which drives them to understand the need for Socialism and this process is enhanced by the degree of democracy which they have won for themselves. Dictatorial power wielded by a vanguard minority, no matter how sincere its intentions, can never act as a substitute. That way the workers remain a subject class and the dictators, having acquired a taste for power, consolidate their own rule. This then is Martov’s value to Socialist theory. Even however when bitterly criticising the Bolsheviks, he still had no real alternative to offer
http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/etheory/1940-1997/67Martov.html

It is why his pamphlet The State and the Socialist Revolution is recommended by the SPGB ( as is Bolshevism by Rudolf Sprenger reprinted recently by Redline Publications)

Read more on the SPGB view of Martov on the SOYMB blog

Quote:
"Certainly, workers' councils or something akin to them, as workplace organisations of the workers, are bound to arise in the course of the socialist revolution. But to claim that they are the only possible form of working class self-organisation is to go too far, is in fact to make a fetish of a mere organisational form. What is important in working class self-organisation, however, is not the form but the principle...Martov must be given credit for having demystified a little the idea of workers' councils by showing the essentially bourgeois revolutionary role that the soviets played in Russia in 1917."

The Bolsheviks did not represent, as they themselves believed, progress from Russia's bourgeois revolution to its "proletarian revolution". It was, says Martov, echoing what Marx had said about the so-called Reign of Terror in France in 1794, "a point in the process of the bourgeois revolution itself"

slothjabber
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Mar 29 2011 15:10

Well, that's alright then isn't it? The SPGB agrees with Stalin (against Lenin) that the task of the Bolsheviks was to develop capitalism in Russia (of course, Stalin called it socialism but it's content not words that count).

Hurrah for Comrade Stalin! Boo to those nasty people who thought that the world was ready for socialism in 1917, more fool them.

Only, that means that the SPGB shouldn't have founded itself, doesn't it, given that it was constituted on the basis that socialism had become a possibility? Silly old SPGB, agreeing with Lenin and Luxemburg, good job you woke up and dropped that embarrasing notion, isn't it?

Who was it said 'the SPGB are Menshevik'? I only said they agreed with and defended the Mensheviks (not at the time of course).

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Noa Rodman
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Mar 29 2011 19:07

The issue is not Stalin, who being put 'in the awkward position, was irrevocably lost', in the words of Engels. The Mensheviks, if anything, warned against it (they ignored their own advice in Georgia, where they did assume power in a backward country, but their moderate bourgeois policy was indeed less disastrous afaik). The Bolsheviks would of course know they faced the risk (of turning into 'Stalinists'), but this makes the reasons for their choice all the more important. Were they simply better economists (smelling the decadence)? Or had they more of that courageous voluntarism? If I understand devoration correctly, he said they put lots more hope in the uprising of the Western proletariat (but presumably Lenin was the first to admit the poor figure of socialist parties in these countries - nevertheless he found to have some reason to go ahead). That's the real issue.

I hope it's not true that the Bolsheviks regressed into anarchists, but where did they exactly differ from the Esers, who had also so mocked the 'bourgeoisness' of the Mensheviks? Maybe the Esers were right, like the Bolsheviks, to mock the mensheviks. But when they came to power (a 'Third Russian Revolution'), the Esers all the same (as Plekhanov had warned their predecessors more than three decades ago) found it necessary to develop capitalism in Russia. Even this then proved to be a failure, as their minister of labour, says:

"the program of the Committee was the program of bourgeois democracy. It was not very much for the era of socialist revolution. ... Was what was going on in the "territory of the Constituent Assembly", at least, a good bourgeois democracy? No, it was not!"

Maisky was a menshevik turned bolshevik. The official Menshevik position was not to participate in government (in territory held by counter-rev), but in fact, the local party had the power to decide on this question.

slothjabber
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Mar 29 2011 21:11
Noa Rodman wrote:
... The Bolsheviks would of course know they faced the risk (of turning into 'Stalinists'), but this makes the reasons for their choice all the more important. Were they simply better economists (smelling the decadence)? Or had they more of that courageous voluntarism? If I understand devoration correctly, he said they put lots more hope in the uprising of the Western proletariat (but presumably Lenin was the first to admit the poor figure of socialist parties in these countries - nevertheless he found to have some reason to go ahead). That's the real issue...

My understanding is that it was precisely that Lenin believed that there would be a revolution in Germany; this was the cause of the arguments with Bukharin and Trotsky over Brest Litovsk. Somewhat famously he declared that the first issue of Vorwarts after the beginning of the war was a fraud put out by the German High Command to discredit the SPD; he did not believe that the likes of Leibknecht and Ruhle would supprt the war, and seems to have been convinced that the SPD as a body would hold to the 1907 Stuttgart Resoltion against war. In 1917 he seems to have regarded the revolution in Germany as being imminent

The issue of 'decadence' was also there, this I believe is the whole matter of Trotsky's theory of 'permanent revolution'. The bourgeois revolution (qua the Menshevik theory) was not necessary and the proletarian revolution was instead on the agenda. The bourgeoisie was no longer a progressive force (as demonstrated by the failure of the German bourgeoisie in 1848); capitalism had acheived the necessary preconditions worldwide for socialism (as indeed the SPGB believed on its foundation). However, the success of the revolution in Russia would depend on the international situation.

Alexander Roxwell
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Mar 31 2011 03:14

The Russian Revlution of 1917 was the convergence of two distinct revolutions that happened at the same time.

One was a peasant war against the feudal (or Asiastic-feudal or "tributary") aristocracy.

The second was the proletarian revolution against the bourgeoisie.

The first revolution was "bourgeois" both in class content and in "stage of history."

The second revolution was "proletarian" in class content but still "bourgeois" in "stage of history."

The bourgeoisie opposed both revolutions.

So it was a bourgeois revolution against the bourgeoisie.

And it created a capitalist state without a capitalist ruling class.

Trotsky's belief that the Stalinist ruling clique was a "caste" rather than a class was correct.

He was wrong when he thought that the caste was a "stand-in" for the proletariat.

It was in fact a stand-in for the bourgeoisie.

Had the German Proletarian Revolution taken place prior to the hardening of this caste into a bourgeois stand-in it might have turned out differently.

Maybe.

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Mar 31 2011 15:37

I don't see how you can have a peasant revolution against feudal relations when they had ceased to exist with the emancipation of the serfs in 1861 (and even the redemption dues the peasants had to pay ceased shortly after the 1905 revolution). As for the proletariat the figures are somwhat disputed but they were in their millions and greater than in more capitalistically advanced states. Russia was the world's sixth capitalists power by output in 1914. However I have to agree with Slothjabbber - the question cannot be posed in terms of a single country. the imperialist war had created a crisis across Europe that affected everywhere and the whole premise (or is it premiss?) of the October Rev was the world revolution without which "we are doomed" (Lenin but you can chose stacks of others). It was a recogniniton of what the imperialist war had done that led the Bolsheviks to drop theri two stage programme in April 1917 in recognition that the era of "democratic revolutions" were over. This was a break with Social Democracy (in the face of a real class movement) which made the Bolsheviks revolutionary. Unfortunately it was not a sufficiently wide break and they had no economic policy but went from hand to mouth after 1917. Lenin was quite clear that Russia's economy was not socialist (except in "parts") but thought (wrongly) that state capitalism was the first step towards it instead of (as we now know) the last barrier of capitalism to a real socialist revolution.

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Mar 31 2011 16:50
Cleishbotham wrote:
I don't see how you can have a peasant revolution against feudal relations when they had ceased to exist with the emancipation of the serfs in 1861 (and even the redemption dues the peasants had to pay ceased shortly after the 1905 revolution). As for the proletariat the figures are somwhat disputed but they were in their millions and greater than in more capitalistically advanced states. Russia was the world's sixth capitalists power by output in 1914. ... Bolsheviks to drop theri two stage programme in April 1917 in recognition that the era of "democratic revolutions" were over. This was a break with Social Democracy (in the face of a real class movement) which made the Bolsheviks revolutionary.

I think Marcel van der Linden's book is right to show that Kautsky and Lenin shared the same outllook (what van der Linden typically dismisses as their 'unilinear thinking' or such), and if there was a break, it wasn't about this:

Kautsky wrote:
And there is still another difference. The significance of the French revolution was tremendous. It was the signal for the overthrow of the whole feudal system. The Russian revolution of to-day can have no such efforts. A bourgeois revolution is no longer necessary even in Russia; the capitalist class and even a considerable portion of the agrarian population had secured practically every juridical and economic right they needed, even before the revolution broke out. But the proletariat in Russia is still too weak and too undeveloped to rule the nation, to accomplish a revolution in the Socialist sense of that term.
...
A revolution that is an outgrowth of existing conditions possesses a gigantic vitality and momentary reverses are by no means cause for despair. But they should bring to us the grave warning, not to leave our Russian comrades alone to their fate. Their cause is the cause of the international proletariat. The collapse of revolutionary Russia would halt the process of democratization in Central Europe that has already begun.

Revolutionary Russia alone is not in a position to enforce a peace upon the terms it has proclaimed. It is time for the International to do its duty, at last, toward itself as well as toward the Russian revolution.

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Apr 1 2011 17:07
Noa Rodman wrote:
I think Marcel van der Linden's book is right to show that Kautsky and Lenin shared the same outllook (what van der Linden typically dismisses as their 'unilinear thinking' or such), [...]

Minor point (and side issue), but by "unlinear thinking" van der Linden means something more specific than an off-hand dismissive comment like "narrow-minded" or "tunnel vision". He's referring to an outline he makes earlier in the book about a notion of history common amongst the 'Second International' or 'orthodox' Marxists of the time, of history of 'national' economies deterministically progressing down a rigid, single-track succession of stages -> primitive communism -> ancient/slave empires -> feudalism -> capitalism -> socialism/communism. This has bearing on the main topic of the book, as taking that "single-track" model of history as a given, certain syllogisms can be made such that the USSR was either socialist or capitalist, hence if it was not socialist, then by the law of the excluded middle, it must ipso facto, be capitalist. Anyway...

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Apr 1 2011 17:27

I don't know if that is what Van Der Linden meant, but it was clearly dismissive and wrong as well. I quoted (approvingly) earlier, arguably the representative of the 'Second International', Rudolf Hilfderding:

Quote:
The concept of "state capitalism" can scarcely pass the test of serious economic analysis.

... the controversy as to whether the economic system of the Soviet Union is "capitalist" or "socialist" seems to me rather pointless. It is neither.

slothjabber
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Apr 1 2011 21:13

And if it's neither, then Marxism is fundamentally wrong.

However, as it had a ruling class and a working class, and the ruling class lived by exploiting the working class through wage labour... it was capitalism, and Hilferding was wrong.

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Apr 1 2011 22:57

Actually, in Aufheben's later critique of Postone, they themselves adopt, what they earlier in their series on the USSR had rejected as "Ticktin's restrictive understanding of capitalism which he inherits from objectivist orthodox Marxism". Good on them, now if only the SPGB could see that this position isn't Lenin/Trot-apologetics, but was put forth even by Hilferding (clearly not defending the Bolsheviks!).

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Apr 1 2011 23:34
slothjabber wrote:
And if it's neither, then Marxism is fundamentally wrong.

Only if the former Soviet Union was a new form of class society which had the possibility of a stable existence. However, not all NSNC theorists believe this (Ticktin being a good example).

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Apr 2 2011 02:06

For your viewing pleasure

'Did Trotsky Point the Way to Socialism?'
'Yes' - Hillel Ticktin, editor of 'Critique'
'No' - Adam Buick, the Socialist Party of Great Britain
http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/glasgow/video.html

The film can be downloaded in an easier to watch format on these two bit-torrent sites:

onebigtorrent
part 1 - http://tiny.cc/MXNnK
part 2 - http://tiny.cc/bszD7

thepiratebay
part 1 - http://tiny.cc/r67mP
part 2 - http://tiny.cc/pkiGM

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Apr 2 2011 10:13

Buick's response didn't register what Ticktin was saying.

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Apr 2 2011 12:42
Harrison Myers wrote:
As with most libcommers I've known about theories of State Capitalism for a long time, but I would like to share something I was introduced to through a long chat about Marx with an SPGB member, and which I have researched further as i'm doing an a-level coursework piece related to this:

Lenin himself desired, promoted and acknowledged the State Capitalist nature of the Soviet Union, although this was largely confined to intra-party debate and private letters. The destruction of council democracy and the introduction of 'War Communism' was the point at which the Bolsheviks introduced it to Russia, and it was consolidated by the 'New Economic Policy'.

This is in direct contrast to latter-day leninists and trots claims of the USSR under Lenin and Trotsky as genuinely socialist.

Lenin wrote:
State capitalism would be a step forward as compared with the present state of affairs in our Soviet Republic. If in approximately six months’ time state capitalism became established in our Republic, this would be a great success and a sure guarantee that within a year socialism will have gained a permanently firm hold and will have become invincible in this country.

Source: http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1921/apr/21.htm - this writing also has much more on state capitalism.

Lenin wrote:
The state capitalism, which is one of the principal aspects of the New Economic Policy, is, under Soviet power, a form of capitalism that is deliberately permitted and restricted by the working class. Our state capitalism differs essentially from the state capitalism in countries that have bourgeois governments in that the state with us is represented not by the bourgeoisie, but by the proletariat, who has succeeded in winning the full confidence of the peasantry.
Unfortunately, the introduction of state capitalism with us is not proceeding as quickly as we would like it. For example, so far we have not had a single important concession, and without foreign capital to help develop our economy, the latter’s quick rehabilitation is inconceivable.

Source: https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1922/nov/14b.htm

It seems to be tied into Lenin and Trotsky's pasts as Social-Democrats and the widely accepted theory that Russia needed to pass through a phase of capitalist development before socialism was workable (hence why the Mensheviks etc pushed for a parliamentary democracy). When Lenin chose to go with the Soviets rather than the Parliament, and claimed that Russia was ready for Socialism, he was lying: he still intended for Russia to pass through a phase of state capitalism.

But Lenin's theories of State Capitalism as a path to socialism were proved wrong, as his theory of democratic centralism does not assure control over society by the proletariat, but by a bureaucracy....

Although this whole subject does beg the question of whether industrialisation and economic development is possible under socialism? I personally think this is possible, although it would have to be a very hardworking society for decades.

I was a Leninist for over 20 years until I finally realised one thing: another group of cunts getting chauffeured round in limousines while we still toil and worry is no lot that will ever be progressive.

We've already seen what "the socialist stage" produces an it ain't nothing more than the "same old story".

The story of those who "have" and those who "have not".

bollocks to that I say.

Dave B
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Apr 2 2011 16:38

Just in case I have lost the plot I presume that the nature of the debate is the very old one that Boshevik Russia was neither socialism nor (state) capitalism but something else.

It might be useful to define roughly what periods we are looking at ie are we looking at post 1924 ish or the whole period from 1917 but I suppose we could ignore that and stay on the more secure ground of post 1924.

And to look at the history of the idea, again.

Trotsky probably took the ‘caste’ idea from Karl’s 18th Brumaire particularly given his use of his Napoleonic analogies to Stalinism elsewhere, thus;

Quote:
An enormous bureaucracy, well gallooned and well fed, is the “Napoleonic idea” which is most congenial to the second Bonaparte. How could it be otherwise, considering that alongside the actual classes of society, he is forced to create an artificial caste for which the maintenance of his regime becomes a bread-and-butter question? Hence one of his first financial operations was the raising of officials’ salaries to their old level and the creation of new sinecures.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1852/18th-brumaire/ch07.htm

The ‘economic’ theory of an industrial and/or bureaucratical/managerial caste or caste system ruling Russia has been circulating around almost from the beginning.

And it is unreasonable to claim that the SPGB has not considered it ie

Quote:
Two alternative views emerged. One was that Russia was neither capitalist nor a Workers State but some new kind of exploiting class society. The other was that Russia was state capitalist. The most easily accessible example of the first view is James Burnham's The Managerial Revolution and of the second Tony Cliff's Russia: A Marxist Analysis. Both books are well worth reading, though in fact neither Burnham nor Cliff could claim to be the originators of the theories they put forward.

http://www.worldsocialism.org/articles/trotsky_the_prophet_debunked.php

And;

http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/etheory/1933-93/html/85USSR.html

and the Rizzi’s seminal article was translated into English by an SPGBer

http://www.marxists.org/archive/rizzi/bureaucratisation/index.htm

Trotsky and Trotskyists exacerbate the problem by the lazy throwaway use of the term “caste”.

[M&E when they did rarely use the term in respect of bureaucracy did so as an informal pejorative. ]

In Marxist terms, in respect of ‘domination’, a ‘caste’ should really be defined as a section of society that has monopolised a particular part of the ‘division of labour’ in society through acquired skill and knowledge and uses it for its own ‘self interest’. That can be ie a guild system or for instance a priest class.

Castes are usually formally distinguished from economic classes by the fact that caste is inherited and maintained by inter marriage within it.

So you could argue that castes inherit and monopolises a ‘social functions’.

And that the capitalist class inherits property and capital, and thus through that its ‘social function’.

However the ‘profiteers of enterprise’, who are part of the capitalist class and are the functioning capitalists exploiting the workers, and by definition don’t depend on the inheritance or ownership of capital/property for their social function, could be considered as a ‘caste’.

The only disqualification being social permeability, but then again it was a bit premature in 1935 to describe the Bolshevik ‘bureaucratic caste’ as operating an endogamy.

Of course the Bolshevik vanguard, with an ‘acquired skill and knowledge’ as the ‘educated representatives of the propertied classes, the intellectuals’. From whom the workers, who ‘exclusively by its own effort, is able to develop only trade union consciousness’ and would have to receive ‘theory of Socialism’ from them; where ideally placed from 1902 to become a ‘bureaucratic caste’.

Coincidentally such a bureaucratic caste also went hand in glove with the beginnings of the German state capitalism system that was so much admired and to be copied and learnt from by Lenin and his Bolsheviks.

The end result, “the infamy of the real or purported interest of the caste”, ie post 1924 ‘Stalinism’, resembling its beginning in Germany.

Engels To August Bebel In Plauen near Dresden 1886

Quote:
In Germany ………. For its semi or wholly hereditary official class is so small and at the same time so jealous of its caste privileges that its judiciary, police, administration and army, all ….. come to one another’s aid and play into one another’s hands, and to such good purpose that the legal norms, indispensable in larger countries, are completely lost to view, and what is utterly impossible becomes possible. I myself have seen what can happen in this way,

And I am convinced that Bismarck could have achieved the same end in any other petty German state as soon as the Court, the chief of the robber band, ceased to oppose him. In the largest of the petty states, in Prussia itself, this mutual aid society is formed by the military and official elite and is capable of any infamy in the real or purported interest of the caste.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1886/letters/86_08_18.htm

And that all the Bolsheviks did was to take that ‘caste’ aspect of ‘German state capitalism’ to its ultimate conclusion as part of being a practical "socialist” perhaps.

Quote:
Otto von Bismarck implemented a set of social programs between 1883-1889, following his anti-socialist laws, partly as remedial measures to appease the working class and detract support for the Social Democratic Party of Germany. Bismarck's biographer A. J. P. Taylor said:

"It would be unfair to say that Bismarck took up social welfare solely to weaken the Social Democrats; he had had it in mind for a long time, and believed in it deeply. But as usual he acted on his beliefs at the exact moment when they served a practical need".

When a reference was made to his friendship with Ferdinand Lassalle (a nationalist and state-oriented socialist), Bismarck said that he was a more practical "socialist" than the Social Democrats. These policies were informally referred to as "State Socialism" by liberal and conservative opponents;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_socialism#cite_note-9

Perhaps Lenin had that in mind when in his “Chief Task of our Times” he substituted and used interchangeably ‘state socialism’ for ‘state capitalism’ for the benefit of the British workers and the THE WORKERS' SOCIALIST FEDERATION.

In;

Part II, (Reprinted front the "lsvestia," March 14th 1918) THE POLITICAL CURRENTS AND ECONOMIC FORCES WITH WHICH THE REVOLUTION MUST CONTEND

A Speech delivered by Lenin to the Plenary Sitting of the Central Executive
Committee of the Soviets.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/spopen/message/11620

Which was ammended from;

V. I. Lenin SESSION OF THE ALL-RUSSIA C.E.C. APRIL 29, 1918

http://www.marx2mao.com/Lenin/SAR18.html

And from Engels on ‘state socialism/capitalism’ with its ‘bureaucratic caste’.

Quote:
But of late, since Bismarck went in for state-ownership of industrial establishments, a kind of spurious socialism has arisen, degenerating, now and again, into something of flunkeyism, that without more ado declares all state ownership, even of the Bismarckian sort, to be socialistic. Certainly, if the taking over by the state of the tobacco industry is socialistic, then Napoleon and Metternich must be numbered among the founders of socialism. If the Belgian state, for quite ordinary political and financial reasons, itself constructed its chief railway lines; if Bismarck, not under any economic compulsion, took over for the state the chief Prussian lines, simply to be the better able to have them in hand in case of war, to bring up the railway employees as voting cattle for the government, and especially to create for himself a new source of income independent of parliamentary votes — this was, in no sense, a socialistic measure, directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1877/anti-duhring/notes.htm

And I suppose the counter argument is that; if say the private capitalism of Germany had disappeared and all that was to remain was the state capitalism with its bureaucratic caste then, Alice in wonderland style, it would have no longer been state capitalism.

.

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Apr 2 2011 17:12

Dave, I understand you're worried that by labeling the USSR as not-capitalist (even with the disclaimer of not-socialist), people are trying to justify it. But if you listened to Ticktin, he clearly says that a non-mode of production is if anything even worse than state-capitalism. Bismarck was not Stalin.

And in history of ideas, the USSR as 'non-mode of production' was the analysis of both Hilferding and Kautksy.

S. Artesian
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Apr 3 2011 00:00
Alexander Roxwell wrote:
The Russian Revlution of 1917 was the convergence of two distinct revolutions that happened at the same time.

One was a peasant war against the feudal (or Asiastic-feudal or "tributary") aristocracy.

The second was the proletarian revolution against the bourgeoisie.

The first revolution was "bourgeois" both in class content and in "stage of history."

The second revolution was "proletarian" in class content but still "bourgeois" in "stage of history."

The bourgeoisie opposed both revolutions.

So it was a bourgeois revolution against the bourgeoisie.

And it created a capitalist state without a capitalist ruling class.

Trotsky's belief that the Stalinist ruling clique was a "caste" rather than a class was correct.

He was wrong when he thought that the caste was a "stand-in" for the proletariat.

It was in fact a stand-in for the bourgeoisie.

Had the German Proletarian Revolution taken place prior to the hardening of this caste into a bourgeois stand-in it might have turned out differently.

Maybe.

Very interesting take. Absolutely agree that the bureaucracy is the historical analogue, the stand-in, for the bourgeoisie.

Don't quite agree on there being a capitalist state, without a capitalist class. That's the thing about analogues-- similar function, different historical origin, so if the bureaucracy wasn't a class, and wasn't capitalist, it could not produce a capitalist state.

To produce a capitalist state, you kind of have to have that capitalist class; and to have that capitalist class you have to have private ownership of the means of production; you have to have the ability to purchase labor-power with money. Didn't quite happen like that in the fSU.

No doubt however that the bureaucracy administered the impulse to capitalist restoration throughout the period of its rule.

BTW the early part of the 20th century, the landholdings of the feudal aristocracy had been considerably reduced and the distorted, misshapen units of agricultural production were units of production for the capitalist world market, linked irretrievably with capitalism, which is why the bourgeoisie were so incapable of dealing with "agrarian question."

slothjabber
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Apr 3 2011 11:44

No; the capitalist state was produced by capitalism, which also produced a capitalist class.

Capitalism is wage labour in the service of commodity production. Russian workers had their surplus labour exploited in return for roubles which they spent at government owned shops. This is capitalism. Capitalism produces capitalists; the class analysis of the USSR depends on its mode of production not on the legal definitions of ownership. The party was a class because for 70 years it stood in a unique relationship to the means of production. It was capitalist because it survived on surplus labour exploited through wage labour.

Therefore, the state that was produced by this system (classes, check; capitalism, check) was a capitalist state.

S. Artesian
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Apr 3 2011 15:33

I don't think it's quite that simple and linear. The "legal form" is in fact an essential component of the mode of production since it manifests, expresses the social relations of production. Last time I checked, those social relations of production and to production were what Marx used to define class, and so "legal title" to private ownership is critical to capital, to the capitalist mode of production.

One of the problems with your analysis-- workers performed wage labor yielding a surplus; wages were spent on commodities in state shops-- is that it can apply to any type, moment, organization of workers power -- any point of transition, any thing less than immediate socialism.

Another problem is that if the Soviet party apparatus, managers etc. formed a class, then as a class, they have a specific, unique, and necessary relationship to the means of production. They are essential to the organization and development of production.

I don't find that anywhere in my explorations of the Soviet economy. There is nothing in the Soviet mode of production that requires a bureaucracy to organize that production. Nothing in the mode of production requires the bureaucracy in order to maintain reproduction.

You state the party stood in a "unique" relationship to the means of production. What was that unique relation? Could the members of that "class" dispose of the means of production as each saw fit, for the gain of the individual members? Could the members of that class buy and sell the means of production, buying and selling capital and wage-labor being kind of the hallmarks of capitalism?

Doesn't mean the party, the apparatus wasn't what it was-- the obstacle to, opponent of international proletarian revolution, of class struggle. Just means it wasn't a capitalist class imposing capitalism on the fSU, when in fact capitalism had already existed and proven itself incapable, through its capitalist class, of extending its mode of production.

It's a difficult issue to explore, and I don't think any of the characterizations of the fSU are satisfactory, including my own.

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Apr 3 2011 17:22
Noa Rodman wrote:
I don't know if that is what Van Der Linden meant, but it was clearly dismissive and wrong as well. I quoted (approvingly) earlier, arguably the representative of the 'Second International', Rudolf Hilfderding:
Quote:
The concept of "state capitalism" can scarcely pass the test of serious economic analysis.

... the controversy as to whether the economic system of the Soviet Union is "capitalist" or "socialist" seems to me rather pointless. It is neither.

On unilinearism:

Quote:
I have [...] adopted as working hypothesis that three contextual clusters strongly inƀuenced ‘Western-Marxist’ theorising about the Soviet Union.

a) The general theory of the forms of society (modes of production) and their succession. This cluster involves many aspects, but as will become evident in what follows, in the debate about the Soviet Union the question of the sequence of types of society was especially important. Marxist thought in this respect showed three phases since about 1917. (i) Until the beginning of the 1930s, different interpretations co-existed; some, including politically diverging personalities like Kautsky and Lenin, believed that development occurred in a unilinear way – namely, through the sequence slave society -> feudalism -> capitalism -> socialism; others (the Aziatchiki) identised a second possible line of development with the ‘Asiatic mode of production’ as its pivot; a few (e.g. Wittfogel) took this idea further and assumed three possible historical paths of development. (ii) From the 1930s until the second half of the 1950s, unilinear thinking dominated almost completely although, here and there, some Marxists continued to maintain the existence of an ‘Asiatic mode of production’. (iii) At the end of the 1950s, the disintegration of the conception of a uniform sequence of development (unilinearism) began. After an initial phase, in which the ‘Asiatic mode of production’ was rediscovered and treated by many as a panacea for the analytical difficulties, a stormy period of theoretical development followed which resulted in the ‘discovery’ of more and more modes of production, culminating in the questioning of the validity of the old theory of modes of production itself. The reason why this course of events is so important for the subject of this study is that the general theory of the (consecutive) modes of production can be considered a priori to have determined how Soviet society as mode of production was assigned its place in history. If unilinear thinking was consistently applied, then Soviet society could only be feudal, capitalist or socialist. But, if the Soviet Union was defined as a form of society of a new type, this simultaneously meant abandoning unilinearism.

(van der Linden, op cit., ch1 pp5-6)

On Hilferding:

Quote:
Hilferding

In 1940, the Menshevik journal Sotsialisticheskii Vestnik published a Russian translation of the article in which Worrall had expounded his theory of state capitalism. But also published was a critical response to it, by the famous Social Democrat Rudolf Hilferding, in which he advanced his own theory.173 Hilferding’s contribution (later also published inter alia in English and German) represented the conclusion of a series of articles he had published after Hitler came to power, which dealt with developments in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.174

Hilferding’s theory is distinct, although there are some identifiable similarities with Rizzi, Burnham and Pedrosa. The bureaucracy, in Hilferding’s view, could not be a ruling class [...] to that extent, Hilferding agreed with Trotsky. But, in contrast to the latter, Hilferding did not view the bureaucracy as a parasitic organism dependent on the working class and its workers’ state, but, rather, as the instrument of the state leader, Stalin. The Georgian despot had subordinated the servants of the state together with the rest of the population completely to himself.

Because of this development, the economy was no longer the factor that determined politics, nor did politics direct the economy and dominate it. The state had uprooted itself from all classes, and had become an ‘independent power’. This theory marked a remarkable turnaround in Hilferding’s thinking. During the Weimar Republic, he had shown great consdence in the state (according to some, too great); but, evidently, the experience of Stalinism and national socialism prompted a retreat. Whereas originally his belief had been that the state – under Social-Democratic leadership – had to subordinate the economy, now it had become apparent that such subordination resulted in dictatorship.176 For all that, one constant theme in Hilferding’s thought remained visible in his article: the state is, in the last instance, a classless institution, which, under desnite relations of power, can be used for good or for evil; whether that occurred by means of a Social-Democratic government or an omnipotent dictator, had little effect on this core idea.
[...]

(op cit., pp 89-90)

So here he is advancing the proposition that Hilferding has, at this later stage, departed from the more conventional base/superstructure economism of earlier 'orthodoxy'.

While I think 'dismissive' is too strong, what I would agree is that, despite his best efforts to come across as being professionally detached from the object of his study, you are definitely left with the clear impression that van der Linden wouldn't personally consider for a minute the possibility that 'unilinearism' might actually be valid or correct.

While it might seem arbitrary to exclude the later Hilferding from the 'orthodox canon' given his earlier significant contributions to it's construction (although you could say similar things about Bebel and indeed, prior to his 'apostasy', Bernstein), the identification of 'orthodoxy' with the common ideology shared between Kautsky and Lenin, is justified, imo, by the institutional legacy they left behind in the shape of the SPD and CPSU.

slothjabber wrote:
And if it's neither [capitalist or socialist], then Marxism is fundamentally wrong.

That is the 'orthodox' position, yes. Without getting into it - not being a one myself - there are plenty of professional Marxologists who have argued, quoting chapter and verse, that the notion that Marx was himself an "orthodox Marxist" does not stand up to scrutiny.

Dave B
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Apr 3 2011 18:21

I think an analysis of Soviet Russia is best looked in terms of Karl’s theory of 'profit of enterprise' and thus profiteers of enterprise which he considered as capitalist and in fact the functioning capitalists.

The non-functioning capitalists being, in an idealised separation, the money capitalist or legal owners of the capital and they would include the ‘non working’ shareholders of joint stock companies.

The idealised profiteer of enterprise being CEO’s and senior management to some level.

The ‘bureaucracy’ in Russia, as an ‘analogue’, could be split into two parts the ‘bureaucracy’ of the industrial management and that of the political state.

The ‘bureaucracy’ of the industrial management, as profiteers of enterprise, do not nor do they have to, own capital or buy and sell it. In fact if they did it would disqualify them as profiteers of enterprise.

All they require is access to capital to work with, as opposed to ownership, and access to wage labour.

They would qualify for access to capital, as they do in capitalism ordinary, by their ability to extract surplus labour from the working class.

It is possible then to suggest that the political ‘bureaucracy’ appoints the appropriately qualified profiteers of enterprise or industrial management ‘bureaucracy’ thus acting as de-facto 'analogue' owners or shareholders of the collective state capital as if it were one joint stock company.

There would be no purpose in selling capital to purchase other capital or selling shares to purchase others as there would be only one type of capital.

Although they would admittedly not have the option of selling their capital in order to fund personal consumption; that is not exactly and integral theoretical part of capitalism when taken as a whole.

When it comes to the political manoeuvrings of the political bureaucracy for power and slice of surplus value sweated out of the workers by the profiteers of enterprise and effective shareholder ownership and dividends for personal consumption.

There is not much difference from that, as much as it interests the workers, than the;

Quote:
“gambling on the Stock Exchange, where the different capitalists despoil one another of their capital.”

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1877/anti-duhring/ch24.htm

You could argue that the political and industrial bureaucracy in Russia were fused together but you could equally say that the ‘profiteers of enterprise’ and ‘money capitalists’ are in capitalism ordinary.

But that did not stop Karl separating them out in order to analyse them.

The best argument against it being ‘capitalism’, not that it is mine; is the extent to which the workers were not free to sell their labour power and achieve the best price on an open market and that they were not free to purchase commodities on an open market.

Or the first of the two characteristic features.

Quote:
....and thus as a free wage-labourer,...

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch51.htm

And that they were essentially just industrial slaves proper receiving rations and only one step up from those in the prison camps.

However unwaged slavery with surplus value ie in the Southern plantations can be operated with a capitalist outlook ie

Quote:
Where the capitalist outlook prevails, as on American plantations, this entire surplus-value is regarded as profit

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch47.htm

And it also fits in with the previously given Bukharin analysis of state capitalisms automatic degeneration to slavery proper, with a 'capitalist outlook'.

So it wasn’t a degenerate workers state but degenerate state capitalism.

But as according to Trotsky there was an equivalence between a workers state and state capitalism; it is merely a problem substitution.