[Marxism] The ISO, "State capitalist theory", and dialectics
djnesbit at connect.carleton.ca
Mon Nov 1 14:57:32 MST 2004
I do not wish to get bogged down in a discussion and defence of the
theory of state capitalism, therefore, I will limit myself to one post
on the subject. I have two points to make, the first regarding
recruitment and state capitalism. The second regarding Cliff's theory
of state capitalism itself.
I'm in the IS in Canada, and I've found that the theory of state
capitalism *is* an aide in recruiting. People seriously considering
involving themselves in a revolutionary organization *are* grappling
with "old" questions of what was the nature of Soviet Russia,
present-day Cuba, etc. Individual socialists, socialists in the NDP,
progressive activists of all stripes and even anarchists, commonly
reject revolutionary socialism and Marxism because of what they know of
Stalinism and what they see in Cuba and North Korea. Reading Cliff's
"State Capitalism in Russia" or Abbie Bakan's "The Great Lie" removes a
barrier for many, and allows many to pursue Marxism and become involved
in revolutionary politics. Understandably, people will reject
revolutionary socialism if they think Stalin is the natural outcome.
As for the theory itself, it is consistently built around the maxim
"the emancipation of the working class is the act of the working
class". Socialism exists when the working class rules society, not a
small group on behalf of the class, or a state-owned system being
imposed from above. This may be pedantic, but it is central to the
theory of state capitalism and it is hammered home again and again in
any and every document outlining or developing upon Cliff's original
theory. The theory is appealing because this central principle of
socialism - as outlined by Marx - cannot be reconciled with states like
Cuba or North Korea.
Lou Paulsen wrote:
"I think that their adherence to Cliff's theories of "state capitalism"
has always (a) been wrong, (b) been evidence of an undialectical
approach to things (if you don't think Cuba is a good enough socialist
country to count as being socialist, you are too much of a purist by
far), and (c) served as an "escape clause" allowing them to recruit
members and friends who don't want to be really identified with
existing socialist countries."
Yes, I suppose state capitalism *is* an escape clause from being
associated with "existing socialist countries". I don't see why anyone
would want to fight for the Cuban model, whether it was genuinely
socialist or not. This, of course, does not mean that we won't defend
Cuba from imperialism.
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