TimW333521 at aol.com TimW333521 at aol.com
Sun Apr 30 17:10:05 MDT 1995

I have been giving a lot of thought also to what in the "Good Old Days" we
used to call the "Russian Question."  It seems that the USSR had to disappear
before a rational discussion could take place on the theoretical nature of
that system.

My own feeling is that we need to go beyond rigid schematic "Marxism" if we
wish to understand the phenomenon and develop more Marx's method.  We also
need to benefit from the empirical evidence of the collapse of what I will
call "state socialism."

To me  we need to abandon two kinds of theories: (1) the notion that the USSR
represented some form of capitalism and (2) that the USSR represented a form
of new class society which could supplant capitalism and be a fundamental
stage in societal evolution comparable to capitalism or feudalism.

On (1): This view collapses under the pressure of empirical evidence.
 Whatever the USSR was, it was sufficiently distinct from capitalism  so that
the world became bi-polarized around a systemic struggle (look at how swiftly
world relations changed with the collapse of the USSR!).  The extreme
difficulty the former state socialist nations are going through trying to
become capitalist certainly lends weight to the notion they were not
capitalist prior to 1989!

On (2):  Well the collapse of the USSR precisely because it was incapable of
developing the productive forces beyond those of advanced capitalist rivals
should bury that notion for good! (for economy sake perhaps we should find
some empty space in Shachtman's coffin!)

Great!  So what the Hell was it (and is it in China, North Vietnam, Cuba,
etc.)  It think it was/is a distinct mode of production based on  a command
economy enforced by a single party dictatorship.  This mode of production
"worked" for 70 years and still works in a modified form in some parts of the
world.  In fact there are some rather positive things one could find to say
about it, considering the wreckage that goes for economies today in Russia
and other "liberated" areas.

So what's wrong with a mode of production which is limited in its ability to
compete with the dominent mode of production?  If that is what it is let's
recognize it.  If necessary let's change our theory not distort reality!

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