Accumulation, primitive, more or less

Richard Harris rhh1 at
Sun Jul 20 18:04:08 MDT 2003

----- Original Message -----
From: "dms" <dmschanoes at>
To: <marxism at>
Cc: "Richard Harris" <rhh1 at>; <MARIPOWER716 at>
Sent: Sunday, July 20, 2003 8:31 PM
Subject: Accumulation, primitive, more or less

> From hardcopy NYT 7/18:
> "Prime Minister Mikhail M. Kasyanov sought to calm anxiety in his
> business community today by publicly stating that Russia would not review
> the origins of the fortunes made in its much-questioned privatization
> program.
> Mr. Kasyanov is the first senior official to publicly address the issue of
> whether [or not] the Kremlin will seek to wrest the fortunes from rich
> Russians who made their money in a lawless program of state asset sales in
> the mid-1990s.
> Fear of property repatriation has consumed the Russian elite for the last
> two weeks since the arrest of an ally of Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, a
> tycoon, on charges that he violated a privatization contract.....
> The investigations have frightened the business community for two reasons.
> First, much of Russia's current economic revival was born of its corrupt
> privatization program of the mid 1990s......
> But perhaps more important is the implicit message on property rights....
> 'The topic of privatizqation in Russia needs to be forgotten,' said Boris
> Nemtsov, parliamentary leader of the Union of Right Forces....."
> _____________________________________
> Several comments:  First, particularly for those who see primitive
> accumulation as an ongoing, permanent, process in capital accumulation,
> experience of Russia will be very enlightening.
> Secondly, a correction of fact:  Russia's current economic revival is not
> born of the corrupt privatization program of the mid 1990s,  Actually that
> privatization program was both PRODUCT and PRODUCER of the USSR's economic
> collapse and the fracturing of efficient agricultural production and
> exchange between city and countryside.  The coincident "moment" with
> privatization is the monumental depression which reduced GDP by half
> 1994 and 1998 and life expectancy to levels of that in the least developed
> areas of the world.  The "revival" is based on one thing, and one thing
> only, the increased price of oil leading to increased output of oil
> Mr. Hubbert, the offset curve turned upwards).

That is very good and seems right.  I'm not sure what you mean by the
dispossession of workers from the means of production.  They did not possess
them in any sense we know, did they?  I mean as sole owners (no), as tenants
in common (an old English law term that might be used in the US ~ i.e. two
people owning a property each with full ownership ~ like in a marriage), as
joint tenants / partnership?  Joint stock ownership is very distant from
these, a fiscal fiction as Fred realised.

I've got no solution to this.  I have seen what state capitalist (incoherent
notion) and bureaucratic collectivist (not marxist) theories have been
trying to get to grips with.  I can't see that a state owned society is
socialism or even moving towards it (where is the end of wage slavery, which
is ended by genuine democracy, which itself destroys the basis of property,
the state?)

I dunno.  But I can see workers being dispossessed from the means of
production in 1918 (end of factory councils ~ for good reasons) or by 1921
(end of internal party debate.)  I've forgotten what happened in 1923, but
that was in my mind once.  But unless you formulaically identify the party
and the class, it all went wrong quite early as far as I can see (not due to
moral failure, but due to the impossible difficulties the people were in ~
does not excuse the Gulags, though, and there were endless Gulags filled
with left Bolsheviks.)

Trotsky thought the Soviet regime unstable.  Perhaps he was right (but I bet
he did not mean 80m years.)

In the end, I think socialism is about recovering control of life, of
society (the two are always inextricably linked.)   That is the ending of
alienation.  It's almost irrelevant that the Russian capitalists ripped it
all off.  How could they ever legitimately buy it all?  Stolen goods (the
means of production) never pass title on sale, as the lawyers say.  That's
why an original owner can recover them.  That's what a socialist revolution

I always write too briefly ~ I'm sorry, but I seem to be constantly

I hope some of this makes sense.

Best wishes


> Based on item 2, it is certainly clear that the transformation of the
> relations of production in Russia was not based on the influx of wealth,
> investment, from the West, but on the preliminary decay of the economy,
> the DISPOSSESSION, collective, of  laborers, from the instruments of
> production.
> dms.

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