[Marxism] Latest reassertion of Russian state control overstrategic industries

Marvin Gandall marvgandall at videotron.ca
Sun Nov 19 11:15:35 MST 2006

Jim Farmelant wrote:

> I think we should keep in mind something that sophisticated Marxists
> have long known, which is that in almost any complex society, there
> is usually not just a single mode of production, but usually several
> modes of production existing at one time, side by side. Usually,
> one of those modes of production will be the predominant one,
> but that doesn't mean that other modes of production will not
> exist as well...

> So therefore, it should not surprise us when we look at
> societies like Russia, China, Vietnam, and even Cuba,
> that we find there several different modes of production
> co-existing.  China still has a lot of state socialism, but
> the past twenty-five years have seen a resurgence of
> capitalism as a result of the economic reforms instituted
> under Deng...Russia seems
> to be moving in a similar direction as well...After having
> experimented with neo-liberal economic policies under
> Yeltsin, they are finding that policies under which the
> state takes on a much more active role in the economy
> seem to produce much better results. ...So,
> I think that Russia will continue to follow these policies,
> despite the complaints of Western political and business
> leaders, because, quite simply, these policies work.
There are always vestiges of a previous mode of production, but which mode
predominates? That is the issue.

It was pretty clear for much of the history of the USSR, China, and Vietnam,
that the old capitalist mode of production no longer existed, even though
there was disagreement about what to call the "higher, more advanced,
post-capitalist" mode which had replaced it.

It is now much less clear that the three countries are "post-capitalist". In
fact, state planning and public ownership have been in retreat in all of
them. Small propertyholders do not simply survive in the lower interstices
of these societies; capitalist property forms have spread to the largest and
most dynamic economic sectors - with state encouragement. The fact that
state planners may have in mind the mixed capitalist economy traditionally
favoured by social democrats is not in contradiction to the direction of
these economies.

The question is whether there has been a transformation of quantity into
quality in any or all of these societies and when did this happen? Walter
says there hasn't been such any transformation. Michael Karadjis and his
comrades say it has happened in China but not Vietnam. Louis and others say
all three countries have reverted to capitalism. I lean towards the latter
interpretation, or would at least say that where the process hasn't been
completed yet, it is is in the process of. But I don't believe anyone would
argue you can have a situation where these modes can somehow "coexist" side
by side without a resolution, without a clear trajectory being apparent, as
you may be doing above.

The fact that there are such wide and conflicting views on the nature and
evolution of these societies suggests to me the lack of a common analytical
framework and empirical data which would be necessary to to consider what a
capitalist restoration entails and to use this as a basis to distinguish
between them. But it's possible that those who have studied this issue more
carefully will be able to provide this kind of assistance to those of us who

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