[Marxism] If Marxism is a Science then its Predictions Should Matter...

Tony Lawless 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 people’s 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.
Russia’s 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 
Russia’s external debt of $196-billion of 1997.[14]

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.


Express yourself instantly with MSN Messenger! Download today it's FREE! 

More information about the Marxism mailing list