State capitalism

kevin john geiger geigerk at
Sat Jul 22 18:39:40 MDT 1995

On Sat, 22 Jul 1995, jwalker wrote:

> Date: Sat, 22 Jul 1995 15:32:44 -0400 (EDT)
> From: jwalker <jwalker at>
> To: marxism at
> Subject: State capitalism
> Here's a quick question, I hope: recently I heard someone make reference
> to the old Soviet Union as being not communist, but instead "state
> capitalist".
> What does that mean?
> John D. Walker
> Department of Philosophy
> UNC - Chapel Hill
> jwalker at
>      --- from list marxism at ---

	Quick answer I will attempt but this is a pretty complex and
controversial topic, especially since the fall of "Communism" in the USSR
is considered a major victory by capitalist forces.  I understand the
thread against the USSR as a "state capitalist" organism to attack the
USSR on its lack of Communistic qualities.  That is, the USSR never was a
Communist system but one in which the state controlled the means of
production and used that control not for communistic ideals but to retain
power, while benefiting large state bureaucracies and a small number of
government officials.
	This is a pretty common flaw most capitalists love to point out
againist communism:  it didn't work in the USSR, people are corrupt, blah,
blah, blah.  Hence this "proves" that the world is not ready for communism,
etc.  The crap is piled on but one observation does not a theory prove.
	The response from our side is that the USSR was *never*
communist but was, what I have tried to describe as, "state capitalist".
	There is no doubt that people of power in the USSR did not
live at the same level as peasants outside of Kursk.  Compromise did
occur.  I believe, however, that corruption and abuse are apparent at
any level or form of government.  While the USSR tried to establish
itself on an ideal of being a vanguard of the proletariat it is tough to
not submit to the axiom that absolute power corrupts absolutely.
	Regardless, one has to recognize some important facets of
Soviet rule that were capitalistic.  For instance, Lenin's New
Economic Policy (NEP) effectively re-established private trade among the
peasants while it put large industrial facilities under the control of the
government.  In essence, Lenin had to embrace capitalism, albeit
unenthusiastically, to survive in the post WWI environment.  That meant
compromising communistic ideals for a toleration of Western supremacy
until conditions could change.
	I think there is a lot of similarity between the position Lenin
was in after WWI and that currently of Castro in Cuba.  Certainly, Castro
has been more resistant to the barrage of Western intervention and
sabotage.  The "Special period" has, indeed, been a test to the Cuban people
and through this they have maintained communist beliefs at a greater level
than Lenin.  The fate of Cuba will be an interesting development in the


     --- from list marxism at ---


More information about the Marxism mailing list