Walter Daum WGDCC at cunyvm.cuny.edu
Sun Apr 30 17:54:38 MDT 1995

Replying briefly to a couple of points raised by Tim W:

On Sun, 30 Apr 1995 19:10:05 -0400 <TimW333521 at aol.com> said:
On the theory that the USSR was capitalist
> 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!
The bourgeoisification of the ex-Stalinist states is not going smoothly, true
enough. But the fact that the ruling class is still fundamentally the same
people, with some additions and subtractions, indicates that the underlying
class content is the same, despite the major changes in form. As for the
bi-polar "systemic" struggle, that had already changed under Gorbachev; it
didn't suddenly change with Yeltsin's coup (or countercoup) in 91. World War
2 also showed the possibility of collaboration between the rival "systems."
And even during the Cold War, Stalinism continued to prop up world imperialism,
first of all by corralling and limiting the workers' movements and liberation
struggles that broke out after the war.
On Tim's notion of 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.
This still sounds like the old "deformed workers' state" theory, with the
workers' part removed, now that it's proved untenable. I'm afraid I can't
prove it to you without saying "check out my book," but our theory of
statified capitalism did predict the general line of Stalinism's move to
bourgeoisification. In contrast, the deformed workers' state theory, like
Shachtman's bureaucratic collectivism and Cliff's state capitalism, all saw
the game tilting the other way.
>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!
Those whose theories predicted the opposite of what happened should indeed
change. It should also be said, of course, that what "reality" is also
depends on what theory you hold, consciously or otherwise, when examining it.

It's a crime that so much of the left is giving up Marxism because of illusions
in the pseudo-socialist states -- at a time when Marxism has been again
confirmed by the central role of the proletariat in bringing Stalinism down,
even though that achievement was hijacked by bourgeois forces. Trotsky's point
that the crisis of proletarian leadership is central to our epoch was also

Walter Daum

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