Justin Schwartz jschwart at freenet.columbus.oh.us
Sat Apr 29 08:15:49 MDT 1995

While I agree with you that Hillel's account of why the Stalinist model is
not a mode of production is inadequate, and that his appraisal of its
impending doom was based on his empiricak knowledge and "feel" for its
dynamics rather than a fully adequate theory, I wonder whether Hillel
isn't right that the model is not a mode of production. One reason to
think that it isn't is that a MOP needs to be able to reproduce itself, as
in Marx's models of simple reproduction in commodity exchange. There is
reasonable doubt that Stalinism satisfied this condition. It lasted two
generations, roughly from the First Five Year Plan in 29 to 1991. No
doubt its demise was greatly hastened by its dismantlement (active and
purposeful) under Gorbachev, but it was in trouble before G, which was why
G was put in power to start with. And the trouble was very bad--some
estimates are that if we take out oil revenues, the Soviet economy did not
grow at all from about 1978 to 1985.

How long does a system have to last before we say that there's evidence
that it is simply reproducable? Or is simple reproducability a matter of
our being able to construct a model (a la Marx on commodity production)
which is SR in theory? Anyway, Hillel's idea should not be dismissed out
of hand.

--Justin Schwartz

On Fri, 28 Apr 1995, Walter Daum wrote:
> Ticktin is a lot harder to pin down. But first of all, his is not a theory of
> state capitalism. He sees the USSR as neither capitalist nor socialist, nor
> transitional from one to the other (indeed, he seems to be unaware of even the
> idea of a workers' state, or dictatorship of the proletariat, transitional
> from capitalism to communism). He says in fact that the Stalinist system was
> not a mode of production of any kind, which strikes me as absurd on its face.
> He sometimes denies the existence of a working class, and then goes on to use
> the term as if he had never denied its existence. (I really meant hard to pin
> down!) Nevertheless, Ticktin published valuable information and insights on
> the USSR, and claims credit for forseeing its downfall. I would credit that
> to his empirical knowledge, not his strange theory.
> Enough for a brief summary.
> Sorry, by the way, for inadvertantly posting a note to Rakesh yesterday
> to the whole list.
> Walter Daum
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