State capitalism?

Adam Rose adam at
Thu Jun 20 02:38:06 MDT 1996

> On Wed, 19 Jun 1996, Adam Rose wrote:
> >
> > I think what determined the difference was the extent to which there was
> > a real independent capitalist class existing before the revolution. This
> > certainly explains the difference between India + Egypt on the one hand
> > and Cuba on the other. Algeria, I can't comment.
> >
> Louis: There was as much of a "real independent capitalist class in Cuba
> before the revolution" as there was in any Latin American or Central
> American nation. These capitalist classes have on occasion used the power
> of the state to commandeer, nationalize and exploit sectors of the
> domestic economy for the benefit of the national bourgeoisie as a whole.
> The Venezuelan and Mexican capitalist class has nationalized oil fields in
> the past. In some cases, mines were taken over under the pressure of
> working-class mobilization or electoral victories such as the kind
> that took place in Bolivia in the 1950s, or Chile in the 1970s.

I don't think this is quite true.

I don't see how you can say that the internal development and external
relationship with Imperialism of the Brazilian capitalist class and
of the Cuban capitalist class had much in common.

> However, it was only in Cuba that the capitalist class *as a class* was
> expropriated. The measures of the Cuban government were not undertaken to
> help Cuban capitalism gain an advantage over its rivals. They were, on the
> other hand, identical to the measures taken by the Bolsheviks in power.

Well no, they weren't.

Lenin actually wanted most industry to stay in private hands, as far as
possible, in order to take advantage of the capitalists skills. What
overode this desire was workers themselves, organised in their factory
councils, simply taking over the workplaces.

If you look at the question as one of state versus private industry,
you can draw parallels, if you want. But the class in control of
the state was different in the two cases, and this is the crucial point.

> Nothing like this ever happened to Egypt, India, or Algeria.

Well, Nasser nationalised the Suez canal and Britain, France, and Israel
invaded Egypt. In Algeria, France fought a long colonial war, in which
Jean Marie Le Pen learned how to torture people. They didn't invade
after the war because they were defeated during it. India was a huge country
thousands of miles from a declining Imperialist power after a draining world war.
Britain was in no position to put up a fight.

> Vladimir Bilenkin made the crucial point that it fails to explain the
> very real conflicts between a Yeltsin and a Zyuganov, which reflect in
> a very muted way conflicts between the Russian working-class and
> Western capitalism.

No it doesn't "reflect in a very muted way conflicts between the Russian
working-class and Western capitalism". Zyuganov and the CP are not some sort
of equivalent to Blair and the Labour Party. The choice between Yeltsin and
Zyuganov is the choice between two individuals, both of whom are going to
throw around Russia's Imperial weight, use an increasingly authoritarian
state, and allow the free market to determine what happens to the economy.


Adam Rose


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