What is "state capitalism"; who is Tony Cliff

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Tue Jun 11 06:26:37 MDT 1996

Tony Cliff was the founder of a Trotskyist group in England called the
Socialist Workers Party. It differed from Trotsky's doctrine on one key
point. It considers the USSR to be "state capitalist", while Trotsky
considered it to be a "degenerated workers state". By analogy, Trotsky
would have likened the USSR to a corrupt and dictatorial union like the
Teamsters under Hoffa. The argument is that the union is still worth
defending because it defends the wages and working conditions of the
members no matter how bad the privileged bureaucracy is.

The "state capitalist" position does not see any intrinsic merit in the
nationalized property relations, planned economy and monopoly on foreign
trade of countries like Cuba, the former Soviet Union, etc. These economic
measures are meant to foster the accumulation of capital by the new ruling
class. Stalin, Castro and Mao are developing capitalism through the agency
of the state rather than the private corporation.

Louis Proyect

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