China prepares to invade Taiwan

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Fri Jun 9 11:10:21 MDT 2000

>By what definition was the Soviet Union under Stalin
>(or after) "socialist"?

You might as well ask by what definition Brazil was capitalist in 1800 when
the landed gentry ruled over latifundias that employed sharecroppers who
toiled in semifeudal conditions when paying off debt bondage was often a
normal condition of employment. Brazil was not quite feudal, and not quite
capitalist. It was in transition between feudalism and capitalism.

Leon Trotsky, "The Revolution Betrayed":

To define the Soviet regime as transitional, or intermediate, means to
abandon such finished social categories as capitalism (and therewith "state
capitalism") and also socialism. But besides being completely inadequate in
itself, such a definition is capable of producing the mistaken idea that
from the present Soviet regime only a transition to socialism is possible.
In reality a backslide to capitalism is wholly possible. A more complete
definition will of necessity be complicated and ponderous.

The Soviet Union is a contradictory society halfway between capitalism and
socialism, in which: (a) the productive forces are still far from adequate
to give the state property a socialist character; (b) the tendency toward
primitive accumulation created by want breaks out through innumerable pores
of the planned economy; (c) norms of distribution preserving a bourgeois
character lie at the basis of a new differentiation of society; (d) the
economic growth, while slowly bettering the situation of the toilers,
promotes a swift formation of privileged strata; (e) exploiting the social
antagonisms, a bureaucracy has converted itself into an uncontrolled caste
alien to socialism; (f) the social revolution, betrayed by the ruling
party, still exists in property relations and in the consciousness of the
toiling masses; (g) a further development of the accumulating
contradictions can as well lead to socialism as back to capitalism; (h) on
the road to capitalism the counterrevolution would have to break the
resistance of the workers; (i) on the road to socialism the workers would
have to overthrow the bureaucracy. In the last analysis, the question will
be decided by a struggle of living social forces, both on the national and
the world arena.

Doctrinaires will doubtless not be satisfied with this hypothetical
definition. They would like categorical formulae: yes-yes, and no- no.
Sociological problems would certainly be simpler, if social phenomena had
always a finished character. There is nothing more dangerous, however, than
to throw out of reality, for the sake of logical completeness, elements
which today violate your scheme and tomorrow may wholly overturn it. In our
analysis, we have above all avoided doing violence to dynamic social
formations which have had no precedent and have no analogies. The
scientific task, as well as the political, is not to give a finished
definition to an unfinished process, but to follow all its stages, separate
its progressive from its reactionary tendencies, expose their mutual
relations, foresee possible variants of development, and find in this
foresight a basis for action.

Louis Proyect

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