[Marxism] The ISO, "State capitalist theory", and dialectics

Josh Saxe joshsaxe at gmail.com
Tue Nov 2 11:38:48 MST 2004

A few questions for anyone who calls the USSR and its satellites "socialist":
1) If government control of industry is a central aspect of a
"socialist economy," what do we make of countries like Egypt, a U.S.
ally where 70% of the GDP is produced in the public sector?  Or Iraq,
under Saddam Hussein, or Syria, or India under Nehru, or the dozens of
African nationalist states that have or have had public-sector driven
economies?  Since outright colonialism hasn't the state always been
the more powerful social sector in the third world, whether overseeing
a public or private sector driven economy, and can't the economic
strategies of third world states simply be seen in either case as
efforts to "catch up" to the West?
2) If we understand capitalism as a world system, not a national one,
centered around core-periphery relationships that are most
illuminating in describing the economic links between the first and
third worlds, how can the nationalization of tiny peripheral economies
by extra-proletarian forces be considered "socialist revolution" when
it barely scratches the central motors of world capitalism?  Shouldn't
the core-periphery paradigm make clear that peripheral economies can
be nationalized for a whole panoply of historical reasons, which
sometimes come under the justification "building socialism" but always
add up to an attempt to catch up and compete with Western states and
3) In four years, between 1929-1934, Stalin enclosed the entire Soviet
peasantry, expropriated them of the means of production and forced
their bodies onto a brutal labor market.  He also extended the working
day and worked whole sections of the population to death in a few
years.  Arguably this accomplished what had taken two or three
centuries in Western Europe in four years in the USSR.  Through
state-generated famines and the suppression of small-scale armed
rebellions, the Stalinist state killed more than 10 million people. 
Russia "accomplishing" a task of the bourgeois revolution: how is that
"going socialist"?  Which side do we stand on when the workers and
peasants rise up against the "socialist states" "building socialism"
through compressing the bourgeois economic revolution into an
agonizing space of a few years?

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