djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Tue Aug 9 11:16:46 MDT 1994
I have been reading all the posts. In restudying my position on the labor
aristocracy, I came across a very interesting passage from Mattick, Sr. on
the petty-bourgeois roots of state capitalism, of which for Mattick both
bolshevism and fascism are expressions. I found the passage especially
interesting because it concentrates not on a labor aristocracy but
non-proletarian strata. To the passage that I now reproduce, I would only
add that the strength of the class to which Mattick Sr calls attention
would, I believe, be more evident in imperialist countries and thus there
pose special problems for proletarian revolution.
"Under capitalism there exist only irreconcilable class interests.
Therefore capitalistically inclined social strata that are the victims of
monopolization cannot be won over to socialism because their special social
positions would be destroyed even more rapidly and thoroughly under it than
under monopoly capitalism. At most they can be won over to a capitalist
program that caters to their special interests, in a word, an antisocialist
policy. Thus behind the slogan of a struggle against state monopoly
capitalism lurks the proclamation of a counterrevolutionary policy directed
"It is, however, quite conceivable that as monopolistic pressure
intensifies, driving segments of the petite bourgeoisie into the
proletariat, some of these petit-bourgeois layers will be persuaded that
their last chance lies with state capitalism, which they hope will throw
open the gates to the career monopoly capitalism had barred to
them..."(From the 1977 Economics, Politics and the Age of Inflation, p.86)
This passage indicates the importance of understanding how Marx moved
beyond radical democracy to a proletarian exclusivism. As Mattick
suggests, the failure to understand that conceptual break only makes more
possible that capitalism will preserve itself by transforming itself into
some form of state capitalism--fascism or bolshevism.
I also thinks that this passage is important because it allows the unity of
the proletariat against the democratic incantations of the threatened
petit-bourgeoisie. In other words, instead of leading to divisiveness
within the proletariat over who is still Lenin's labor aristocracy, there
is indicated here a project of true class consciousness. (I do not mean to
foreclose a discussion about Lenin's understanding of the labor aristocracy
in Imperialism and the Split in Socialism, however).
This passage also points to the dangers of such engaging works as Barnett
and Cavanagh's recent book on multinational corporations--it leaves the
door open for the democratic politics of a reactionary class. No wonder
the book has received praise from the small business administration.
In conclusion if we understand bolshevism as but one manifestation of state
capitalism--and not a specially Russian problem--then we must also
understand the dangers of its consolidation in the imperialist countries.
The project then becomes not the disassociation of Marxism from Stalinism
only but, more fundamentally, from the petty bourgeoisie who would turn
marxism into any form of state capitalism. And that is of course not just
a problem for a people with a czarist past. For the petty bourgeoisie could
hegemonize a bloc either based on opposition to the New Left's monopoly
capitalism or based on some form of Maoist ethnic nationalism against
imperialist white supremacy. Trotter's question remains (raised in his
question about the Stalinist development of the productive forces): what
happens to the proletariat as a subject? Or more precisely, mustn't the
emancipation of the working class be conquered by the working class itself?
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