1939 and all that...

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Lazlo_Woodbine
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Sep 15 2005 21:24

ICC pop quiz.

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE!

ANSWER -- to the international working class, there is no difference!

meanoldman
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Sep 15 2005 21:59

Thinking slightly more, the internationalism of the ICC is the most absurdly crude rule utilitarianism. And as such should be laughed at and shunned.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Sep 15 2005 23:00

You mean they evaluate stuff in regards to some abstract rule, you mean? Fuck the people about to be gassed -- defending them would mean objective support for imperialism, you see...

meanoldman
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Sep 15 2005 23:31

In that they evaluate stuff with regards an abstract rule that values only the totality of the working class completely ignoring its constituent parts (namely billions of individual people) with some pretty absurd theoretical consequences.

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Lazy Riser
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Sep 15 2005 23:53

Hi

Stop defending the left of capital. Heretics.

Amen

LR

alibadani
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Sep 16 2005 04:19

I still don't see how the Jews would have been massacred if the workers of all nations had refused to kill and die for "thier" country. Not only would the Jews not have been massacred but tens of milioins of others would have been spared as well.

meanoldman
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Sep 16 2005 10:42

You are right, if there had been a world wide communist revolution in 1939 the holocaust would not have occurred. It's equally true, and equally relevant to the situation in 1939, that if aliens had landed and destroyed the Nazi party the holocaust wouldn't have happened.

You are dealing in absurd hypothetical and completely refusing to offer any substantive thoughts on the actual choices that faced workers in the UK in 1939. World wide revolution was not one of those choices.

knightrose
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Sep 16 2005 12:01
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You are dealing in absurd hypothetical and completely refusing to offer any substantive thoughts on the actual choices that faced workers in the UK in 1939. World wide revolution was not one of those choices.

You are right, world revolution wasn't one of the options. But like loads of others in this discussion, which I keep reading, despite my warnings about taking taking toffees from strangers, you too are looking at what happened through the advantage of hindsight.

In 1939, the Germans were not gassing Jews. Nobody knew they planned to do it. The response of many socialists and anarchists was to say, here we go, another capitalist war. So, they opposed it. They did so in the same way that they opposed WW1. I think they were right to do so.

Saying that doesn't mean that workers in occupied countries were wrong to fight the German occupation. If that was the only form of resistance to the new rulers, the what else could they do? And, of course, just like in any struggle going on, you don't ask the politics of those you struggle with, you judge them by their actions. Equally, it doesn't mean that all those who took up arms were right either.

History is difficult to deal with. We have to ask ourselves, what were the options open to those there at the time? We can only judge them on that.

meanoldman
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Sep 16 2005 13:12
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In 1939, the Germans were not gassing Jews. Nobody knew they planned to do it. The response of many socialists and anarchists was to say, here we go, another capitalist war. So, they opposed it. They did so in the same way that they opposed WW1. I think they were right to do so.

And indeed they were not actually planning to do it at that stage. It's very hard for me to seperate the part of my knowledge of the Nazi system that was known in 1939 with that that was only learnt afterwards. Even without the holocaust, if everything I know about the Nazi state's actions towards the German working class in the 1930's was known then, then I would have fought Germany. If on the other hand Germany appeared from outside to be very similar to Italy say, I would have gone along with those like Meltzer who were consciencious (sic) objectors*.

*Although if I remember correctly I think that mob did join up in the end not to fight but because the entire working class was in the army and that's where they thought they'd be most useful.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Sep 16 2005 13:42

Absolutely. I'd have opposed the war in 1939, but been very supportive of anti-fascism. What some people don't seem to have grasped, was that the UK and France did not go to war to fight fascism, the went to war to defend their empires, and hece real anti-fascism had very little to do with the UK/French war effort. Spanish anarchists may have joined the Free French, and Italian partisans may have fought Mussolini, but this doesn't mean that they became pro-empire.

I stand by my earlier statement -- I'd have been militantly anti-fascist all though the 1920-30s, as well as opposing the UK government.

alibadani
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Sep 17 2005 07:02

Dear meanoldman,

IT is true that in 1939 there was no possibility of a world revolution. The workers were utterly drunk with nationalism and they were willingly marched off to war. However even during periods of the worst reaction, when workers have temporarily lost the will to act in their self-interest, there are minorities within the class who carry on the revolutionary tradition of the proletariat. In 1939 these revolutionaries were correct in calling on workers everywhere to refuse to fight in the war. IT was their duty to the traditions, history and legacy of our movement. However in 1939 the workers weren’t going to listen to these few and scattered voices.

In the minds of the workers in 1939 they had two choices: fight fascism or lose your freedom. The workers of the U.K didn’t reluctantly joined the war having realized that world revolution was impossible. World revolution didn’t cross their minds. Had the workers of the world been aware of the choice of world revolution in 1939 then YES that would have been a choice for them. Do you only want to talk about choices the workers were aware of? The job of revolutionaries is not to resign themselves to the choices the workers are aware of, but to inform them about a third choice, a choice in their own interests and on their own terrain. The fact is that given the level of consciousness and the general social climate in 1939 the workers were gonna fight regardless of what a few internationalists said. That doesn’t mean the internationalist were wrong in saying what they said.

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Lazy Riser
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Sep 17 2005 09:57

Hi

Do you remember?…

Quote:
Communism is not a god to be served or a duty to fulfil. The ICC’s elevation of their almost religiously held ideological positions above my everyday problems and desires is my idea of right wing

Countered by…

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Communistst don't want revolution for the sake of wanting it. We see it as the ONLY way forward for mankind. There's nothing romantic or cool about revolution. It requires incredible effort and self-sacrifice.

And now we have…

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In 1939 these revolutionaries were correct in calling on workers everywhere to refuse to fight in the war. IT was their duty to the traditions, history and legacy of our movement

And here we agree. Safe in the knowledge that the proletariat were going to ignore them, the internationalists are free to carry out their ritual of revolutionary defeatist polemic.

This policy is inexorably tied in with the internationalists’ theory of historical development, and the elevation of their ideological model above rational choices made for sake of earthly human desire. In that context, it’s fair to consider their position as correct. I wonder if it’s an attempt to over-compensate for Leninist charges of opportunism?

The internationalists are the keepers of the flame for a particular orthodox Marxist theory of history. It is too much to expect them to address the practical problems working class people face when confronted by capitalism’s incapacity to fulfil their requirements for economic security and political empowerment.

Having said that, the internationalists’ most enthusiastic detractors do little to develop viable alternative programmes beyond capitulating to the working class’s “defence of the left of capital” in the face of the internationalists’ finger wagging from the pulpits of their empty chapels.

Love

Chris

jaycee
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Sep 17 2005 11:02

meanold man how can you claim with any sensability that the bourgoeis state collapsed in 1929, even with the most basic understanding of the Nazi rise to power you have to see that Nazism was a continuation of the bourgoeis state ( something even the hacks i read in gcse and A level history admitted). the Nazis were never voted in they were put into power through the elites and 'backstairs intrigue' as it was put in my A level corse. Yes big business was a very strong influence on this. also, you seem to lose all sense of reality when you say that Germany could have become part of the 'global community of capital'(something that has never , could never and will never exist) capitalist countrys will always be forced to compete as will indervidual capitalists and at the level of the state this competition naturally takes the form of military and imperialist wars. Germany was an imperialist power under the Nazis and under the Weimar government, The Nazis for various reasons were the most useful at the time in achieving German capitals interests. But even if the Nazis had never taken power WW2 would still have happened, these dependable conservatives you spoke of had already began preperation for this, rearming was goning on under Brunings government and many military elites and other elites recognised that imperialist expansion was neccesary for German capital at the time. For example General Frik who would later oppose Hitler supported the idea of a war with France much earlier than Hitler had taken this as his policy.

meanoldman
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Sep 19 2005 22:25
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meanold man how can you claim with any sensability that the bourgoeis state collapsed in 1929, even with the most basic understanding of the Nazi rise to power you have to see that Nazism was a continuation of the bourgoeis state ( something even the hacks i read in gcse and A level history admitted).

I'd say it was extremely obvious that by the time the Nazis came to power the state was neither providing an environment in which capital could be accumulated successfully nor controlling the working class (the two of which are of course extremely closely related). It is true that the Nazi's took over the state as it was in 1933 but what they had created by 1941 say was very different to any bourgeois state. Whilst the bourgeois state seeks to control the working class and the most chauvenistic sections of capital the National Socialist state was an attempt to divorce the political sphere from reality. Whilst there actions were forced to reflect the actions and existence of the working class and capital the Nazi state created a 'primacy of politics' (to steal Tim Mason's phrase) where the method of political decision making was irrational, methodless, often opposed to the interests of capital or indeed any social group and characterised by its insistence on struggle being a universal virtue, even within decision making. (and so we see the emergence of the dual power structure of the party and the state, the SS and the Wehrmacht and the same responsibility assigned to many groups or ministries within the overall hierachy of Nazi rule)

That school text books don't mention this, or even contradict this, is an argument in its favour, not evidence against it. School history text books are full of downright lies on every subject you can find in them, from the industrial revolution to the Second World War to the Depression to the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Most of the time most of their contents are simply untrue, or at least present such a distorted subset of the facts as to encourage conclusions which are counter-factual.

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also, you seem to lose all sense of reality when you say that Germany could have become part of the 'global community of capital'(something that has never , could never and will never exist) capitalist countrys will always be forced to compete as will indervidual capitalists and at the level of the state this competition naturally takes the form of military and imperialist wars.

That Germany is now fully integrated into with the rest of the West shows that to be rubbish. Capital, and blocks within it, will pursue the course they see as best helping them accumulate more capital, and that often has been and often will be through international cooperation. Capital is not as deterministically imperialist (in the military sense of the word) as your habitual use of the word natural suggests.

Quote:
the Nazis were never voted in they were put into power through the elites and 'backstairs intrigue' as it was put in my A level corse. Yes big business was a very strong influence on this.

Again your analysis is simplistic at best. You entirely ignore the role of popular support for the Nazi party in their coming to power, and by failing to examine reasons for what popularity they had you leave yourself unable to attempt to answer the question of whether the Nazi Party was unique or whether it is a possiblity latent in the capitalist system itself.

Describing the rearmament which took place prior to 1933 as preparation for war is simply absurd and deserves no long response.

wld_rvn
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Sep 20 2005 11:54

On Lazy Riser's last post:

An apparent contradiction: he berates the internationalists for ritually incanting abstract principles, and at the same time seems to criticise their detractors for capitulating to the left of capital (and we have seen some spectacular examples of this on this thread).

The question he doesn't pose is what do principles mean for the proletarian movement? Faced with the slide of the Third Internaional into opportunism - ie sacrificing the future to apparent gains in the present - Bordiga wrote a lot about this, insisting that principles are not a luxury but a weapon of the struggle. They embody the lessons of history and provide a basis for the working class to defend itself from the enemy. So principled opposition to all imperialist wars is not a 'ritual', but the only way workers can defend themselves from the barbarity of the system. And it's hardly surprising that if you reject these principles, you end up joining the left of capital. In fact you end up joining the war front. Isn't that the lesson with the social democrats in 1914? And of course we think the same applies to the Trotskyists in 1939-45 (as well as some of the anarchists).

On meanoldman's reply to jaycee: if we understand him right, he is saying that the Nazi regime ceased to be bourgeois because it was irrational. Two points on this:

- the capitalist mode of production isn't a passing thing, something which comes and goes according to the ideolgy of the rulers (as they would have us believe happened in 1989 in the eastern bloc for example). It's an entire epoch of human civilisation;

- given that this civilisation is in profound decay, it is everwhere marked by increasing irrationality. With meanoldman's method, we would either have to ignore the insanity of Stalin's purges, the Rwandan genocide, Pol Pot's massacres, Islamic death-worship or the growing hold of apocalyptic Christian ideolgy over the leaders of the world's superpower, among countless other examples, or claim that they were all examples of the capitalist system turning into something else.

meanoldman
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Sep 20 2005 12:12
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On meanoldman's reply to jaycee: if we understand him right, he is saying that the Nazi regime ceased to be bourgeois because it was irrational.

I am saying that the National Socialist state became as different from the bourgeois state as a state capitalist state is. They are certainly all capitalist but they are not all the same. Those parts of our understanding of society that exist at the level of capitalism are valid and useful in all three forms of capitalist society, but those parts of our analysis that exist at the level of the state can not always be easily transfered to Nazi Germany. Most of the answers to questions like 'what is the state', 'what is its relationship with capital' etc that we get in the UK today or any other bourgeois state are simply false if we look at Nazi Germany.

The irrationality of the Nazi state is certainly not the only, or even the dominant, reason for believing that the Nazi state was not a bourgeois state. That the Nazi state did not fulfill or aim to fulfill any of the primary purposes of the bourgeois state is certainly a strong argument for it not being a bourgeois state though.

I also disagree with your statement that capitalist society is currently in a state of profound decay, but that is for another thread.

wld_rvn
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Sep 20 2005 14:32

Quick question for meanoldman: So a state can be capitalist but not bourgeois? How is such a distinction useful?

meanoldman
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Sep 20 2005 16:50
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So a state can be capitalist but not bourgeois?

Yes.

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How is such a distinction useful?

For the same reason that distinguishing between carnivores and herbivores is useful.

alibadani
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Sep 20 2005 17:46

A state can be capitalist and not bourgeois. For example Russia and Hungary right after their revolutions were workers' states but still capitalist. THe nazis didn' run a workers state. Unless one wants to speculate about the possibility of a petty-bourgeois state.

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Lazy Riser
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Sep 20 2005 20:56

Hi

Quote:
A state can be capitalist and not bourgeois

I'm not so sure. State Capitalism’s party membership and bureaucratic class constitute an authentic bourgeoisie.

Love

Chris

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Lazy Riser
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Sep 20 2005 20:56

Hi wld_rvn

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An apparent contradiction: he berates the internationalists for ritually incanting abstract principles, and at the same time seems to criticise their detractors for capitulating to the left of capital

There is no contradiction. From the BuFOMULAC’s position you’re all “the left of capital”.

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The question he doesn't pose is what do principles mean for the proletarian movement?

Why should I pose that question? Presumably the profit in receiving an answer is revealed by Bordiga’s saintly decree…

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principles are not a luxury but a weapon of the struggle.

Which I suppose I might agree with, in a way. But why can’t they be both? Like very creamy, yet highly effective, soap. The pursuit of luxury is central to my principles. The fact that you’ve now excluded principles from the domain of pleasure is yet another example of the ICC’s sacrificial mentality. Hail the new puritan. Whatever Bordiga’s metaphysics, their utility is hardly validated by the success of the grand working class project to which he lent his efforts.

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So principled opposition to all imperialist wars is not a 'ritual', but the only way workers can defend themselves from the barbarity of the system.

This is a very robust position, which does the ICC great credit. However, I think the working class has done a better job of defending itself from barbarity by fighting WWII than it would have done by capitulating to the Third Reich. Defending the left of capital is hardly something to be proud of, but is preferable to living under its right.

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They embody the lessons of history and provide a basis for the working class to defend itself from the enemy… …Isn't that the lesson with the social democrats in 1914?

How effectively we’ve analysed our lessons is reflected in the success we’ve had in overthrowing the bourgeoisie. Enough of this “defence”, “resistance” and “protest”. It’s time to drop this victim mentality and replace it with the language of advancement and attack.

I will respond to the uncomradely tone of some of your detractors on “+ insults”. Let me lend my support to your position on the essentially bourgeois character of capitalism and the capitalist state, and hierarchal power in general. I also agree it is more useful to see the USSR and the West as twin heads of capitalism rather than distinct beasts.

Lots of love

Chris

alibadani
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Sep 21 2005 01:44
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This is a very robust position, which does the ICC great credit. However, I think the working class has done a better job of defending itself from barbarity by fighting WWII than it would have done by capitulating to the Third Reich..

Here's the problem: Lazy riser and others seem to think that if the workers had refused to fight in WWII, they would have capitulated to the Nazis. By "workers" Lazy riser speaks, apparently, only about the workers in the non-fascist states. They act as if the workers in Germany and Italy dissapeared under fascism.

WHen we say that workers should refuse to fight we include those in the fascist states. There is no possiblity of war or genocide without the workers.

So here's my point: If the workers had refused to fight, there would have been no war, no Nazi invasions, and no holocaust.

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Defending the left of capital is hardly something to be proud of, but is preferable to living under its right

Living under the left of capital is preferable to its right. North Korea is preferable to Franco's Spain?

alibadani
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Sep 21 2005 01:44
Quote:

This is a very robust position, which does the ICC great credit. However, I think the working class has done a better job of defending itself from barbarity by fighting WWII than it would have done by capitulating to the Third Reich..

Here's the problem: Lazy riser and others seem to think that if the workers had refused to fight in WWII, they would have capitulated to the Nazis. By "workers" Lazy riser speaks, apparently, only about the workers in the non-fascist states. They act as if the workers in Germany and Italy dissapeared under fascism.

WHen we say that workers should refuse to fight we include those in the fascist states. There is no possiblity of war or genocide without the workers.

So here's my point: If the workers had refused to fight, there would have been no war, no Nazi invasions, and no holocaust.

Quote:
Defending the left of capital is hardly something to be proud of, but is preferable to living under its right

Living under the left of capital is preferable to its right. North Korea is preferable to Franco's Spain?

alibadani
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Sep 21 2005 01:54
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State Capitalism’s party membership and bureaucratic class constitute an authentic bourgeoisie.

True, but there was a point when the soviets ruled. Power was quickly tranferred from the soviets to the party and bureaucracy. THat brief period of soviet rule was an example of a non-bourgeois capitalist state.

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888
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Sep 21 2005 03:53
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So here's my point: If the workers had refused to fight, there would have been no war, no Nazi invasions, and no holocaust.

And? They didn't refuse to fight, unfortunately. How does this obvious statement help anything at all?

alibadani
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Sep 21 2005 05:51

I know!!!!! It's so obvious I wonder why so many people have a problem with it?

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cantdocartwheels
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Sep 21 2005 10:47
alibadani wrote:
Quote:

This is a very robust position, which does the ICC great credit. However, I think the working class has done a better job of defending itself from barbarity by fighting WWII than it would have done by capitulating to the Third Reich..

Here's the problem: Lazy riser and others seem to think that if the workers had refused to fight in WWII, they would have capitulated to the Nazis. By "workers" Lazy riser speaks, apparently, only about the workers in the non-fascist states. They act as if the workers in Germany and Italy dissapeared under fascism.

WHen we say that workers should refuse to fight we include those in the fascist states. There is no possiblity of war or genocide without the workers.

This is a rather simplistic analyisis of class structure in general and the class basis of fascism. Fascism relies on mobilising and militarising sections of society, predominantly the petit bourgeoisie, a few semi-criminal lumpens (eg freikorps, mafia) or elements of the ancien regime in europe, in order to build a paramilitary organisation.

To simply generalise and say the 'working class just needed not to fight'' is a bit mental when in the 30's it faced a hundred thousand or more armed paramilitaries backed by the state mobilised from various non-proletarian sections of society.

wld_rvn
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Sep 21 2005 11:29

Just a quick reply to Lazy Riser on insults. Following Jack's outburst about us being dickheads and fucking morons, we appreciate your post on the 'Insults' thread on this. It's especially alarming that Jack as an administrator of the site should behave in this manner. We are against abuse of this kind because it only serves to undermine the possibility of discussion and clarification; in the end it undermines the very purpose of this site and will deter people who are looking for a real forum of debate.There are proletarian principles involved in this question as well.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Sep 21 2005 12:49
alibadani wrote:
I know!!!!! It's so obvious I wonder why so many people have a problem with it?

Because it's an un-historical statement that is also a tautology.

meanoldman
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Sep 21 2005 17:38
Quote:
A state can be capitalist and not bourgeois. For example Russia and Hungary right after their revolutions were workers' states but still capitalist. THe nazis didn' run a workers state. Unless one wants to speculate about the possibility of a petty-bourgeois state.

Whilst I've used the term bourgeois state on this thread I don't find it at all useful as a way of categorising states. What defines a state, like every other structure in capitalism, is its relationship to the classes that exists in society: capital and labour and it is these relationships that we should use as a framework in which to analyse individual states.

In State Capitalism the state and capital are one and the same. In what I shall continue to call the bourgouis state, the state has some degree of autonomy from capital and exists to create stable conditions for accumulation by mediating and defusing working class demands, even if this means that sometimes it goes against the wishes of significant or even dominant sections of capital (the USA in the 1930's for instance).

The Nazi state was neither of these, it achieved something approaching 'the primacy of politics' where the state acted with very little reference to the needs of capital. By 1938 there was complete fragmentation and retreat of private capital as an organised force in society. This is a well established historical fact.

The 1930's orthodox Marxist line that fascism represents "the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital" that appears to form the basis of the thought of many posters on this thread has no justification in the historical record. The challenge for Marxists and fellow travellers like myself is not to find new ways of burying our heads in the sand and pretending that this was the case, but to explain and understand it within the context of class relationships.

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I also agree it is more useful to see the USSR and the West as twin heads of capitalism rather than distinct beasts.

That may be the case but it is not an either or situation. The systems of government in the USSR and North Korea are both forms of State Capitalism. Both State Wapitalism and the Capitalism of the West are forms of Capitalism. Capitalism and Feudalism are both forms of hierachical society. Capitalism and a hypothetical communism society are both forms of human society. There is no reason or use to determining any level of categorisation as somehow more fundamental.