Historical significance of Stalinism

James Lawler PHIJIML at ubvms.cc.buffalo.edu
Wed Mar 22 23:21:50 MST 1995

In making revisions to my article, "Lenin and the Socialist
Transition in Russia, which is being stored somewhere in the
Marxism list's gopher hole, I have added the following
conclusion, which connects in various ways to the recent
discussion of Stalin:

    The dialectical conception of socialism implied by the New
Economic Policy was overthrown by Joseph Stalin, starting with
the collectivization of agriculture in 1929.  The establishment
of Stalinist state socialism involved a return to the time-
honored methods of the Asiatic Tsarist state to face the
challenges posed by globally expanding capitalism.  The two
greatest precapitalist states, Russia and China, attempted to
modernize their technological infrastructures through a
continuation of their traditional state-centered methods of
control, avoiding thereby the traumatic consequences of
capitalist development in an age of imperialism.  In retrospect
this defensive reaction by great ancient states to the world-wide
expansion of capitalism seems eminently logical, as does the
failure of this last stand of the old world against the
capitalist whirlwind.  By this means, the economic and cultural
devastation of a dependent capitalist Russia was postponed for
seventy years.  What is surprising is that Russia should also
have embarked on a path involving a complex dialectical
transition out of age-old patterns of development, using the
springboard of elements of the modern capitalist system to
initiate a post-capitalist society.  The failure of this attempt
was in large part due to the failure to consolidate theoretically
a dialectical conception of socialism.

--Jim Lawler
phijiml at ubvms.cc.buffalo.edu

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