Deformed or degenerated ?

Hugh Rodwell m-14970 at mailbox.swipnet.se
Sun Sep 22 11:42:39 MDT 1996


Jorn writes:

>The explanation I usually got from our local 4th Internationalists was that
>"degenerated" was used about Russia, because it once *had been* a workers'
>state. "Deformed" was used about E Europe, because these countries were
>sort of born with these defects.
>
>And sure this was the very serious heart of the matter: There were never
>anything like a workers' revolution in E Europe after WW2. Nevertheless the
>USSR army was able to create states more or less carbon copied from the USSR.
>
>So the theoretical problem was not so much that it did not fit into the
>Stalin-Trotsky controversy. Rather it was the much more serious one: If the
>USSR was more or less a socialist/workers' state, and the EE countries were
>"created in the image" of this by the USSR army, does this mean then that
>socialism can be created from capitalism by other forces than the working
>class? That "the emancipation of the working class" is not to be made by
>the working class itself?
>
>It was this serious question that the "degenerated/deformed workers' state"
>formula was not able to come to terms with. And which continued to trouble
>the different brands of 4th Internationalism when they had to deal with the
>development of other states along similar lines, from China and Cuba and up
>to and including the eventual collapse of stalinism on a world scale from
>1989.
>
>Tony Cliff's theory of bureaucratic state capitalism was the Marxist answer
>to this theoretical blind alley.

Not so. You forget the overriding importance of the world market and
internationalism. With the bridgehead of the Soviet Union established, the
armies of the workers' state were able to brush aside the armies of the
bourgeoisie in many countries at the end of World War II. There were
revolts in many of countries as well -- some of the more dramatic being in
places like Milan, drowned in blood by Allied bombing.

At this time there was a tremendous international revolutionary upsurge
throughout the world. It led to independent overturns of capital in
Yugoslavia and China, would have done so in Greece if it hadn't been for
Stalinist betrayal, led to the independence of India and Pakistan, and led
to the setting up of radical welfare states in countries like England. In
the States it led to bebop and rock and roll :-).

So, seen in a national perspective, the events may appear perplexing, and
Cliff's solution gives an answer by grinding the living developments of our
century into minced pieces that fit into the constricting dimensions of
nationalism. Seen in an international perspective, it becomes a dialectical
instance of the proletarian revolution forcing itself (in the shape of the
dictatorship of the proletariat) on unwilling political subjects (the
imperialist bourgeoisie and the Stalinist bureaucracy).

Cheers,

Hugh





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