state capitalism debate (fwd)
spoons at jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU
Thu Jun 20 06:59:11 MDT 1996
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: 20 Jun 96 03:14:23 EDT
From: neil <74742.1651 at CompuServe.COM>
To: Marxism list-e-mail <marxism at jefferson.village.virginia.edu>
Cc: jack and sarah ailey <73613.516 at CompuServe.COM>,
"J.S.Daborn" <J.S.Daborn at Sheffield.ac.UK>, Mauro <Mauro.jr at iol.it>,
curtis price <cansv at igc.apc.org>, Steve-Oak <gilberts at ix.netcom.com>
Subject: state capitalism debate
Nature of Soviet Economy
The confusions over the class nature of the USSR arises from
2 main factors.
The first is the result of the working class revolution of 1917.
The other is that until recently the state had a near monopoly of
all the means of production and exchange and this was sufficient
for most in the "movement" to define Russia as "Socialist" ,
"degenerated Workers state" or even "communist".
Of course the bourgeois camp has a vested interest in identifying
socialism with stalinism.
These concepts of "socialism" all try to negate and bury several
Firstly , The October revolution was penned up in the old russian
empire borders afetr WW1. Also the working class battles of the
workers in Europe proper never achieved the mass class consciousness
and high organization to become victorious in toppling their "own'
The isolation of the russian Rev. and the fragmentation of the Russian
working class that had fought so valourously for communism in 1917-20
including the civil war had necessarily to rebuild capitalist relations
which it had begun to dismantle in 1917-8.
This lead to the Russian CP transformation into a new ruling class.
Later under the Government headed by Stalin, the party heirarchy who
had effective control of the uses of the new state property &
maintained its hegemony in it ,forcibly denied the workers control
by means as brutal as the private property bourgeoisie in the west
and it "collectively" accumulated the surplus value of the waged labor
of the Soviet Working class.
The continued existence of the wage labor system defines the nature
of the class realtions of production in the USSR.
Karl Marx stressed that wage labor and capitalism are inseparable:
"Thus capital presupposes wage labor : wage labor pre-supposes capital.
they reciprocally condition the existence of each other, they
reciprocably bring forth each other". Marx, Wage Labor and Capital,
M/E Selected works Vol 1, pg 92.
This supports the next key point. Wheteher the means of production are
controlled by individual capitalists , by a political state that
nationalized them , or by multinational monopolies , it does not
change the mode of production. True, Marx had seen socialization
of the means of production as one of the key features of socialist
society, he never said that this was adequate a condition to define
socialism. The fundamental feature that divides capitalist from socialist
society is that socialism entails the abolition of waged labor.
Neither the USSR or any E. European state ever moved to abolish
Money had the same role in the USSR as it does in all places in the
capitalist world. Most trotsky people and stalinists argue that the
use of money in the USSR bloc is but a mere technical means to
carry on the exchange of goods and srvices and does not really
function as capital . They forget and cover-up the fact that these
goods and services which are being exchanged are commodities, the
product in the modern age of the capitalist system of exploitation.
This system uses money to effectively defraud the working people
of the full value of their labor power. (See Communist Workers Org. UK
Crisis in communism or Crisis in capitalism in their Communist Reveiw 8.)
Marx and Engels said that communist/socialist society is a society
without money or waged labor in any form & in which production is
not commodity production but the production of use-values for
human needs and not as under capitalism for sale and profit.
This the USSR bloc had nothing to do with constructing socialism.
The USSR economy was capitalist in spite of its state ownership of
industry. Many in the left argue falsely that mere state ownership=
socialism . They also absurdly claim that it is only the "conservatism"
of the stalinist bureacracy which prevents "deformed workers states"
>from advancing forward to a liberatory socialst economy. These views
just don't hold water.
If we look at the lack of consumer goods in the old USSR economy,
we find that the scarcity was NOT a matter of the chioce in the "plan".
In the last 4 Russian "5 year plans" increasingly larger amounts
of rubles were set aside for a big increase in consumer goods
but huge scarcities still existed. The reson was the near collapse
of investment which spead to nearly every sector of the economy.
This was tha reason for release into the economy of many times more
roubles that the amount of commodities available to buy and this
led to the same rsults as in Western capitals , inflation.
This could be seen in a number of places such as the relations between
the free market price for foodstuffs and the state prices. In 1965
free market prices were 35% higher than state prices but by 1984
the difference between the two was near 120%.
It can also be seen in the bank deposits of ordinary Russians
which rose from 10 billion roubles in 1965 to 202 bilion roubles
by 1984 since ordinary Russians had not much to spend the extra
roubles on. (Econ. Hist. Of USSR by Alec Nove, 1989, Pg 372)
The fundamental problem as in the western capitalist states,
has been the falling rate of profit.
To be continued---
Excerpts from Communist Review #10 --L2.00
Communist Workers Org. Box 338, Sheffield, S3 9YX, UK
This is a left-communist trend analysis.
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