Degenerated workers state= oxyMORONIC

Adam Rose adam at
Thu Jun 20 03:52:47 MDT 1996

Walter writes:
> 3. On Tue, 18 Jun 96 17:35:12 GMT Adam Rose said:
> >
> >And, a degenerated workers state is not an oxymoron - it existed in
> >various forms between 1919 and 1928. If such a state cannot exist,
> >how did state capitalism come into being in Russia ? Was there no
> >workers revolution to start with ? If there was, there must have a
> >been a period when it was in the process of degenerating. Obviously.
> I agree to the general proposition, differing on the dates. But that
> aside, I think Adam is going beyond Cliff here, who to my reading does
> not accept the category of degenerated workers' state.
> I say that because Trotsky, when he introduced the term "degenerated
> workers' state," argued that the workers would have to not just reform
> the Soviet regime but defeat the bureaucracy in a political revolution.
> ("Political revolution" -- change of power within the ruling class, in this
> case the proletariat -- as opposed to a social revolution where one class
> seizes power from another.)
> Cliff in his book argues against the idea of political revolution in
> Russia; if the workers need to make a revolution, it has to be social.
> But there have been different editions of Cliff's book, and maybe there is
> a different way to read it.

You have read it the same way I read it - It's just that Cliff's book talks about
Russia after 1928. Have you read "From workers state to state capitalism" ? ( I think
by Chris Harman, perhaps Peter Binns ? ). I don't think the term "Degenerated
Workers State" is used, mainly to avoid confusion with Trotsky's theory, or rather
interpretations of it, which give such a thing an air of permanence that it by
definition can't have. But everyone I've ever talked to would be happy to use the
term for the period starting sometime after the revolution and ending in 1928,
provided it was understood that precisely because of its instability, the reality
it describes was changing very rapidly. [ So, if you wanted to get REALLY finicky,
perhaps "degenerating workers state" for 1920 ish to 23, "degenerated" for 24 - 28 ? ]


Adam Rose


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