State "Socialism"? Was Re: China prepares to invade Taiwan

Debordagoria phantasmagorias at
Wed Jun 14 15:53:11 MDT 2000

--- Louis Proyect <lnp3 at> wrote:
> Michael:
> >By what definition was the Soviet Union under
> Stalin
> >(or after) "socialist"?
> 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.
Thanks, this is wonderful, Lou, and a marvelous answer
to my question about the nature and trajectory of the
state socialist societies.  It's an answer that takes
the question seriously, rather than begging it (as
some others did, in a sect-satisfied manner).  How
revealing that Trotsky sees the Soviet working class
as, if not another revolution away, at least a full
revolt away from achieving socialism.  Back in the
1980's I often wondered how much closer than us that
put them to the elusive promised land.  Recent history
would seem to suggest that they were still far away,
and that Trotsky was prescient about the possibility
of "accumulating contradictions" leading the Communist
states to capitalism instead.

Michael Davidson

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