State capitalism?

Jorn Andersen ccc6639 at
Thu Jun 20 05:12:45 MDT 1996

Louis N Proyect wrote (replying Adam):

> You draw a distinction between all of these various "capitalisms" and a
> "socialism" that existed for less than a decade in the USSR in the 1920s.
> With such broad distinctions in place, there is not much work left for
> Marxist analysis to do. Just hold the country in question (Cuba, Algeria,
> etc.) up against this basically abstract model and draw a conclusion based
> on whether it conforms or not. This is not a Marxist approach. It is
> formal and schematic.

Yes, Louis this is the basic distinction. It is not formal and
schematic. It is based on an assumption that socialism equals
workers in power - collectively and democratically. Nothing more,
and nothing less.

But this does not mean, as you suggest, that there is not much work left
for Marxist analysis to do. It just draws a basic "line in the sand"
about what socialism is - and what it is not. What is still left for
analysis is the concrete class struggle, the concrete contradictions
*within* capitalism, the concrete dynamics of these different societies.

Saying that the whole world today is ruled by rivalling ruling classes
does not imply that they are all the same. What it *does* say is that
how we approach an analysis is not based on the supposed good or bad
will of these rivalling rulers. Rather it is based on the forces at
their disposal within a global imperialist framework. On their
military strength, their productive forces, their level of popular
support or opposition etc. etc.

Louis, you sometimes seem very concerned about "diseases" in minority
left-wing groups. I think one very widespread disease within (and maybe
even more outside) these groups is to connect socialism with anything
which in some sense is in opposition to US imperialism, the market or
whatever. This, IMHO, is understandable for socialists in countries
where the working class for 15-20 years has been on the retreat. But
I think it can have a fatal impact on our way of thinking - especially
in the present period where this same working class is again trying to
raise its heads. It could mean that we are looking for change from
places where resistance *against* change is being thought out.

Be it Zyuganov or Castro - I think both of them will be on the
opposite side of the barricades in struggles to come. Shame on us,
if we do not have a theory for understanding why.


Jorn Andersen


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