[Marxism] State Capitalism and the writings of Kautsky

Einde O'Callaghan einde at gmx.de
Fri Dec 17 14:02:04 MST 2004

DoC wrote:
> A chairde,
> Does anyone know if the state capitalist theories of the ISO were 
> influenced by the writings of Karl Kautsky.
No - the theories of Bukharin were more influential in developing the 
theory, but the origins of the theory are described by Tony Cliff in his 
autobiography, which will, I hope, be on-line shortly. The context was 
the debates within the Fourth International in the late 1940s, where the 
the description nof the eastern European states as state capitalist or 
something similar was quite widespread (this was the position of the 
French group Lutte Ouvriere down to the collapse of the Eastern Bloc in 
1989/90), but since the regimes in the Eastern European countries were 
essentially copies of the Russian regime Cliff went one step further and 
came to the conclusion if the Eastern European countries were state 
capitalist then Stalinist Russia must also be state capitalist.

The development of his ideas can be followed in the Tony Cliff Internet 
Archive (http://www.marxists.org/archive/cliff/), particularly in the 
documents "The Class Nature of Stalinist Russia" (1948) (available at 
"On the Class Nature of the People’s Democracies" (1950) (available at 
http://www.marxists.org/archive/cliff/works/1950/07/index.htm) and 
"Stalin’s Satellites in Europe" (1952) (available at 
http://www.marxists.org/archive/cliff/works/1952/stalsats/index.htm - 
but not yet complete).

The concept of state capitalism was quite widespread within the 
Trotskyist movement at that time and Cliff was by no means the only 
person to advance such a theory. Indeed the first person to advance such 
a theory within the Trotskyist movement was perhaps Raya Dunayevskaya. 
There's a 1946 article by her ("The Nature of the Russian Economy") at 

Other people who advanced such theories at the time were CLR James and 
Cornelius Castoriadis - neither of whom had any truck with Kautsky. 
Cliff originally set out to defend the orthodox "workers' state" theory 
but became convinced that it was incorrect in the course of his 
research. For an outline of the debates see Alex Callinicos' 
"Trotskyism" at http://www.marxists.de/trotism/callinicos/

Einde O'Callaghan

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