[Marxism] RE: Scientific Planning Not at Stake

Calvin Broadbent calvinbroadbent at hotmail.com
Tue May 18 09:28:24 MDT 2004

But doesn't Rob's argument really just entail putting an 'equals' sign 
between nazism and Soviet socialism? The nazis wanted to 'catch up' with 
their western capitalist counterparts via colonial expansion in the service 
of the maintenance of private proftis in the face of the challenge of 
popular working class socialism. The Soviets wanted to 'catch up' 
economically in the face of possible colonialisation by the expansionist 
capitalist interests orthe domestic reinstatement of a (agriculturalist) 
capitalist regime (thus stunting its devlopment to probably third-worldised 
levels a la Ireland and India mid nineteenth century). It was doing this, 
arguably and certainly ostensibly, in the service of its own public and in 
the international struggle against capitalism. The 'command' economics or 
the USSR and Nazi Germany were, thus, arguably two wholly distinct 
phenomena. At any rate, it is absurd to suggest that 'free-market' 
capitalism for the last 100 years or so has not been 'command' in a very 
real sense.
Also, the Nazi regime (late developers as Rob calls them) were not at all 
trying to engage in 'modernisation'. Germany was already a massively 
industrialised nation. The Nazis certainly did not try and consolidate their 
power by 'brutalising' the peasantry, but rather, by brutalising the 
industrial organised German working class. In direct contrast, the 
'modernising' USSR relied on the support and development of their incipeint 
At any rate,  in my view, the major problem with Rob's analythat the USSR 
was not an imperialist expansionist power in any real sense of the term.
How can Rob claim that Stalin's justifications for wanting to play 
'catch-up' wre simply paranoid? Had not the USSR been invaded by something 
like ten major imperialist pwers at its birth? Was not the concept of 
'lebensraum' written into the Nazi program from the start? Was the British 
government not equally as militantly hostile to Bolshevism and an 
independent Russia also from the start?
Sounds like soembody's been reading too much Hannah Arendt.

>Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 12:55:34 +0900
>Subject: Re: [Marxism] Scientific planning not at stake.

>This idea of "catching up", much criticised in the more postmodernist end 
>"development" debate, does undeniably have a lot to answer for. I also 
>here of the "late developer" theory as an explanation for fascism- i.e.
>those nation-states that industrialised after the first wave of capitalist
>industrialisation were more prone to developing more authoritarian, 
>& brutalising regimes than those which got the "head start" if only 
>on a world stage already dominated by a few powerful actors it seemed only
>too evident to many that the only way to "catch up" was to be by forceful
>willed action from the entire body of the nation-state. Thus Stalin's
>somewhat odd belief in the human will having greater transformative power 
>biological life than the dynamic of natural history (e.g. Lysenkoism), or
>the attempt in Japan to transform the already deep roots of Shinto ritual
>into an engine for imperial expansion.
>Beyond a trite view of history which lumps all later modernising regimes
>together in opposition to a rosy view of liberal capitalism or social
>democracy, there is something in this kind of argument; it is, of course,
>demonstrably true that a majority of late industrialisers have had a
>concentration on bureaucracies of state, and that conscious "catching up"
>has often been associated with conscious brutalising of the population (the
>standard model of course being the forced transformation of peasantry into
>I am increasingly developing the sense that we need to look at the USSR in
>this category of "late industrialisers" to understand it, and I think an
>analysis which suspends any question of the validity of the "communism" 
>developed there (and the sort of boring debate that typically hangs around:
>"where did it all go wrong? Lenin or Stalin?") is fundamental. The fact
>remains that the Soviet economy had a lot more in common with a war economy
>(having originally been modelled on one) in the twilight days of classical
>imperialism than with anything else. That is to say, it is plainly obvious
>that, feeling on the verge of entering into the "modernity" of the
>industrialised West, the only model available to modernisers had to come
>from that industrialised West, thus development- in an imperial world- had
>to be construed intrinsically as either imperialism or anti-imperialism; as
>one form of "catching up" or another! What is more, this model of course
>remains THE dominant one shaping contemporary developments.

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