state capitalism

Mon Aug 21 18:31:58 MDT 1995

On July 25 (but received via the Marxism list August 18!), Maxine
Vincent wrote:

< [...] To characterise the Soviet Bureaucracy as a Capitalist
one is a bit bonkers.....Instead of trying to put labels on it,
socialists would have done better to analyse and find out more
about what was going on.  Hillel Ticktin knows more about Russia
now and what is going on than any other Marxist I know of (there
may of course be someone I HAVEN'T heard of!).  I would recommend
his books to anyone who wants to know what is really going on in
Russia now.>

Hillel Ticktin undoubtedly knows a great deal about Russia, but
one has to understand more about Marxism to decide whether to
characterize the USSR etc. as capitalist.

Ticktin's terminology often seems designed for confusion if not
incoherence. He says there is (was) no value in the Soviet
economy, but still refers to exchange value. He denies that there
is a working class in the USSR, yet his book "Origins of the
Crisis in the USSR" has a chapter called "The Working Class." He
talks about "exploitation" of the workers by an "elite" which is
not a class, yet for Marxists exploitation is a relation between
classes. Then, after denying both a working class and an
exploiting class, he freely refers to the "class struggle"
between them.

Ticktin today still denies that Russia is capitalist. He argues
that the Stalinist system *cannot* move in a capitalist
direction. That seems to be as "bonkers" as any analysis, seeing
that the ex-Stalinist states are dedicated to encouraging
capitalists and destroying the remnants of whatever working-class
gains still exist.

Nevertheless, from the 70's on, Ticktin did a great service in
puncturing notions that the Soviet system was progressive. But
his apparent contempt for the fundamentals of Marxist analysis
leave him out of the running when it comes to analyzing the class
nature of that society.

Walter Daum

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