[Marxism] work - ability - needs

Shane Mage shmage at pipeline.com
Fri Jun 13 08:12:38 MDT 2008

On Jun 13, 2008, at 6:13 AM, Angelus Novus wrote:

> Shane Mage:
>> We know that Stalinism destroyed this possibility in
>> Russia and  China, and smothers it in Cuba.
> The word "Stalinism" seems to play a similar role in
> the Trotskyist lexicon that "authoritarian" plays for
> Anarchists.  Namely, it is an empty signifier without
> much clear meaning that serves to express the
> disapproval or distaste of the speaker.
> Subsuming China, the USSR, DDR, Cuba et al to a single
> category obscures far more than it explains.

"Empty signifier"???  Stalinism is no metaphysical category under  
which something is "subsumed."  It is a very real ideology not only  
determining social/political/economic practice where its adherents  
hold power but also holding a pernicious psychological grip on all too  
many would-be "leftists."  The defining features of
the Stalinist syndrome (as both institution and ideology) include:

-Identification of the system/ideology as "Communist" or "Socialist."   
Especially characterization of the Stalinized "USSR" and its  
satellites as "socialist."

-Rule by a single party whose leadership, chosen by cooptation,
  monopolizes political discourse and outlaws the existence of    
opposition political parties, internal democracy within its own ranks,  
and independent workers' press and unions.

-The conception of "socialism" as economic centralization under a  
state planning agency exercising property rights in a largely  
nationalized economy, exempt from democratic control, and imposing  
wage, price, and production decisions on the predominant part of the  

-Solidarity with the Stalinist counterrevolutionary bureaucracy of the  
"USSR" historically (as by retroactively supporting Stalin
against the Bolshevik oppositions) and in practice (at least until  
open power conflict between ruling bureaucracies, as China and  

-The existence or justification of a police-state apparatus exempt  
from either judicial or democratic control and exercising the powers  
of arbitrary arrest over "suspected" oppositionists and censorship  
over public communications media.

Meaningful enough?

Shane Mage

"Thunderbolt steers all things...it consents and does not consent to  
be called Zeus."

Herakleitos of Ephesos

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