[Marxism] If Marxism is a Science then its Predictions Should Matter...
lifesunquietdream at msn.com
Thu Dec 1 01:18:37 MST 2005
I must admit to a certain level of distress when I read Einde saying the
While marking the text up for on-line publication I was once again struck
by the remarkable similarity between Cliff's predictions about the future
trajectory of the Russian system and the actual course of events during the
collapse of the Stalinist (or post-Stalinist or whatever else you want to
call it) system - even if, as has often been the case with Marxist analyses
from Marx onwards, the timescale was wildly over-optimistic.
Here is the most famous SWP prediction of what would transpire in Eastern
Europe after the Fall of the Berlin Wall:
Chris Harman (1990)
The transition from state capitalism to multinational capitalism is neither
a step forward nor a step backward but a step sidewards. The change involves
only a shift from one form of exploitation to another form for the working
class as a whole, even though some individual groups of workers ... find
themselves better placed to improve their conditions and others ... find
their conditions worsened. (International Socialism No. 46, 1990.)
So neither a step forward nor a step back. That was the prediction. Things
would not get better, but they would not get worse either, if the prediction
has any meaning. Now, here are a number of quotes, all taken from IST
Internet sources that contradict this prediction, including one to begin
with from Chris Harman himself.
1. Chris Harman 1999
SOCIALIST Worker editor Chris Harman opened the conference with a session on
the "New World Disorder". He argued that the starting point for socialists
is the huge political and economic instability across the globe. "People
should cast their minds back ten years to the euphoria of the ruling class
at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall," Chris said.
"Then we were told that history had ended and that socialism was dead. But
what happened to the economic miracle they predicted? Russia has suffered a
worse slump than that which hit Western capitalism in the 1930s. In Eastern
Europe the picture is the same. Far from the end of history, we have seen a
succession of wars and civil wars. This economic and political instability
has opened up political questioning on a massive scale.
2. Millions of workers lost their jobs in eastern Europe when entire
industries were shut down after 1989.
3. International Socialist Review, Winter 2000
By Anthony Arnove
Contrary to all the triumphalist rhetoric about how the market would bring
happiness and a Western standard of living to the former Communist
countries, most peoples standard of living actually took a step backward.
Poland, East Germany and the Czech Republic, which split from its poorer
partner Slovakia in 1993, have seen growth and wage improvements, but they
have also seen unemployment rise to unprecedented levels. East German
unemployment now stands at 20 percent. In Poland, the New York Times
reported, the zloty has fallen by about 15 percent this year, a once
high-flying stock market has been pummeled, unemployment is now over 10
percent, fuel prices are rising, and anger over layoffs in loss-making heavy
industries like steel and coal has boiled over.
4. Canadian IS, 2003
The Russian war in Afghanistan combined with economic weaknesses and growing
unrest in the working classes to create massive instability in Russia and
the east bloc states. By 1991 the old ruling bureaucracy cracked, ultimately
leading to the collapse of the USSR. The Cold War ended, but imperialism did
not. In fact, the imperialist competition for resources and markets between
the US and Russia that had marked the Cold War continued. Now, however, the
geo-political line of demarcation between western and eastern imperialist
interests had moved eastward on the map.
Russias decline accelerated. More than $72 billion in capital left the
country in illegal or semi-legal transactions in the three years between
1996 and 1999 alone. This not only contributed to the collapse of the ruble;
it was an expression of it. In a 1998 study conducted by a team of Canadian
and Russian researchers, it was estimated that:
a total of $200 billion was sent out of Russia from 1992 to 1997. This is
more than the total capital flight from Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela and Peru
over the period from 1979 to 1987 when those countries faced extreme
economic difficulties. . . . [T]he $200 billion cumulative total of exported
capital by 1997 was more than a quarter of Russian GDP and greater than
Russias external debt of $196-billion of 1997.
Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) are now experiencing
the ravaging effect of a market that will sell assets to the highest bidder,
regardless of the cost. The poverty of the population is devastating. For
the west, the collapse of the USSR has meant the opening of vast new regions
for exploitation. At the same time, the fear of competition from other
imperialist states has meant an increased rush to expand the influence of
direct military, political and economic control.
5. No date, but the most spectacular of the refutations
The bald fact of so many unemployed gives the lie to this nonsense. Where is
the wealth that was supposed to pour into Eastern Europe, establishing new
industries and raising living standards?
It never materialised. In its place has come industrial collapse, mass
unemployment, rising infant mortality, declining life expectancy, ethnic
conflict and war.
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