State capitalism?

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at
Thu Jun 20 06:16:30 MDT 1996

On Wed, 19 Jun 1996 ROSSERJB at wrote:

>      Certainly nationalization went further in Cuba than in
> Egypt (land was not nationalized in Egypt).  But I think that
> your characterization is not all clear of why Egypt escaped
> international wrath while Cuba did not.  There was certainly a
> period in Egypt when even the national bourgeoisie was getting
> dinged pretty hard.

Louis: The question of the distinctions between "socialist" countries like
Algeria, Egypt, Ghana under Nkrumah, etc. on one hand and Cuba or the
former Soviet Union on the other gets to the heart of Marxist theory.
Confusions over these matters show up in even the sharpest minds. For
example, the Trotskyist leader Michel Raptis (Pablo) took a post in the FLN
government in Algeria with the expectation that it was consummating a
socialist revolution. CLR James described Nkrumah as the "Lenin of today".

My own thoughts on these matters have been really blurred in the past and
that is the main reason I want to look at them in some depth. It's a shame
that Adam has to bear the brunt of my somewhat abrasive polemics since he
really is a decent soul. He has the misfortune of being the most
outspoken defender of "state capitalism" on the list. (Now why couldn't
that so-and-so Walter Daum mount a violent attack on my ideas?)

I want to hone in on the role of the national bourgeoisie in places like
Algeria during the anticolonial struggle. I am tentatively coming around
to the idea that Nkrumah, Nasser, etc. are basically left-Bonapartist
figures. For a time, the "socialist" states they rule over have all the
outward guise of a state like Cuba, but the capitalist class gradually
asserts itself and reconquers political power. Capitalist property
relations which survive the anticolonial struggle serve as a power base
for the national bourgeoisie which eventually displaces the plebian
governments of the early days of the revolution.

This is my theory. If the facts contradict the theory, I will have to go
back to the drawing-board.

I will also try to take a much closer look at what took place in Cuba in
1959-1960 in order to draw a contrast. I am much more familiar with the
facts on Cuba so this should be a lot easier.

Stay tuned.

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