[Marxism] It's those damn petty-bourgeois at it again!

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Nov 29 18:36:45 MST 2005


Callum:
>Of course the Americans did try to subvert the nascent state capitalist 
>regime, and the only reason they failed was because Cuba had support from 
>the Soviet Union - that is, without Krushchev's support, Castro's regime 
>would have went the way of Allende's in the end. That's one of the reasons 
>why Allende failed, because he thought he could build up a reasonable 
>socialist alteranaitve, independent of the Imperialist states (the USSR, 
>the USA). The only reason Cuba could build up their state capitalism was 
>because they accepted the USSR's support. This, of course, was one of the 
>reasons the Beard "realised" his revolution was socialist AFTER THE 
>FACT.  Indeed, he spend the first few months trying to reassure American 
>capital.

In a way, this is an airtight argument even though it is only compelling if 
you already believe in the entire state capitalist system. Cuba depended on 
Soviet "imperialism" to survive. As a colony of the USSR, they then 
developed a welfare state capitalist system. Needless to say, this is 
imperialism in name only because wealth flowed from the Soviet Union to 
Cuba (and East Europe, for that matter) rather than the other way around. 
This is a rather novel theory of imperialism, one unhinged from mundane 
questions of profits, etc. I mean who really cares about bank balances, 
trade figures and other dry as dust matters. I can assure comrades all 
around the world that such ideas can only come from joining a group like 
the British SWP or the ISO as a raw recruit and then being forced-fed Tony 
Cliff, Mike Gonzalez et al in new members classes. That is the phenomenon 
Joaquin alluded to earlier and it is shrewdly observed.

"Although it is impossible precisely to evaluate the gains and losses in 
intra-Comecon trade it is generally agreed that the USSR was subsidizing 
Eastern Europe and that over time this subsidy was rising largely because 
of the growing opportunity costs involved in supplying the group with 
'hard' commodities such as oil. Up to the mid-1970s the Soviet Union was 
apparently willing to pay this price in return for politically stable and 
loyal allies; up to the 1973 oil-price explosion the only way in which the 
subsidy was reduced was the Soviet insistence that East European countries 
contribute to the development of its resources. During the 1970s, however, 
it became clear that the terms of trade of 'hard' goods would continue to 
rise and that East European countries would not be able to reduce the 
subsidy for the following two reasons: first, because they incurred, in 
some cases considerable, convertible currency debts so their ability to buy 
oil in non-Comecon markets was severely restricted, and secondly, the 
imports of Western technology initially undertaken in the hope that the 
'softness' of East European manufactures would be reduced did not result in 
a direct improvement (and could, as in the case of Poland, lead to severe 
strain and eventual collapse). On the other hand, the USSR is in no 
position to continue to subsidize Eastern Europe indefinitely. There are 
several reasons for this. First, the Soviet economic growth has declined to 
unprecedently low rates; secondly, the oil industry is experiencing 
difficulties in securing adequate supplies for the 1980s; thirdly, the 
Soviet Union is forced to continue to spend substantial hard currency 
outlays on the import of grain; and fourthly, it undertook to subsidize the 
developing members of Comecon--Cuba, Mongolia and most recently Vietnam."

(Vladimir Sobell, "The Red Market : Industrial Co-operation and 
Specialisation in Comecon" (Aldershot, 1984)





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