[Marxism] Latest reassertion of Russian state control overstrategic industries

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at juno.com
Sun Nov 19 16:57:13 MST 2006

On Sun, 19 Nov 2006 13:15:35 -0500 Marvin Gandall
<marvgandall at videotron.ca> writes:
> 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...

> ==========================================
> There are always vestiges of a previous mode of production, but 
> which mode
> predominates? That is the issue.

Indeed it is.

> 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.

I am not sure that's quite accurate either. The former
Soviet Union long had black markets and indeed was
said to have had quite a significant underground
economy.  That could be thought of as having represented
a kind of survival of the capitalist mode of production within the
interstices of a social formation that was dominated
by "really existing socialism."
China, I believe, had pretty much a mixed economy
through the 1950s, into the early 1960s. Lots of
enterprises had remained in private hands or under
joint private-public ownership until they were nationalized
during the Cultural Revolution. Even with state socialism,
many of the top managers of enterprises were the former
capitalist owners of said enterprises. That's one reason
why Deng's economic reforms were able to kick in so
fast.  Much of the country's old capitalist class still existed,
and when the state began to privatize enterprises, many of
these former capitalists were more than willing and able to
revert back to their previous roles as capitalists.

> 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. 

Sure, although in Russia that trend towards increasing
private ownership and lessened state planning, appears
to have slowed down.  Much of that country's energy
industry has been renationalized, a move that has
upset Western political and business leaders to no
end.  Especially now, when rising world oil prices have
made the state energy industry extremely profitable.
In other sectors of the Russian economy, private
ownership has been retained, but the state has
been actively encouraging  carterlization.

> 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? 

Quite so.

> 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.

I think that most Marxists would agree (despite the many
disagreements that they might otherwise have) that
one mode of production has to become predominant.

> 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
> haven't.

Well, I myself wouldn't pretend to have studied this issue at more
than a very superficial level. I know that Louis Godena
has written in the past on this issue in regards to China.
Louis Proyect has done so in regards to China and other
countries. And as long everyone is now talking about
Walter, I am sure that he is more than able to do so
in regards to Cuba. This is something that requires
the extensive examination of empirical data within the
context of a compelling theoretical framework by which
that data can be interpreted.

> ________________________________________________
> YOU MUST clip all extraneous text before replying to a message.
> Send list submissions to: Marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu
> Set your options at: 
> http://lists.econ.utah.edu/mailman/listinfo/marxism

More information about the Marxism mailing list