From Alexander Hamilton to Evegeny Preobrahzhensky: The Economics of the Progressive State

Discussion Topic

How do serious historical materialist socialists address the question of the obvious superiority of function of a lean state apparatus?

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News and political commentary from the point of view of the social interests of the international working class.
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3 Responses to From Alexander Hamilton to Evegeny Preobrahzhensky: The Economics of the Progressive State

  1. rawlinsview says:

    As regards the following article posted on Facebook
    China’s Socialism beats democracy

    I wouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. No question there is plenty of bathwater, but the economic achievements of China are not insignificant and this conversation deserves more serious discussion amongst serious socialists.

    In order for China to achieve this exceptional level of development some key things had to happen in a certain order.
    One a sovereign republican national state had to be formed and the populace mobilized.
    Two there had to be a mass expropriation of capitalist property and nationalization of foreign capital so that the surplus value produced in the country could be reinvested in the national infrastructure.
    Three, the infrastructural development, and I mean here both social infrastructure, ie education and the development of a skilled labor force, and physical infrastructure, had to actually take place.
    Four, capital flows had to be opened up, international exchanges of science and ideas had to be opened. Human resources had to be concentrated into industrial enterprises, and entrepreneurial energy had to be both unleashed (set free to some extent) and harnessed that is to say funded and focused toward mass industrial purposes.
    A dialectical process of concentration and liberalization. Each without the other being less successful than their combination.

    I think that this pattern applies to the development of the Soviet Union/and now Russia and Eastern European states, to some extent Germany, which is now per capita arguably the most productive country in the world and to India as well. It is separate from the political developments of these countries but these are long periods of history to review and the patterns are well enough established to draw decisive conclusions.

    As for the bathwater I see no reason for this developmental path to have been as brutal and narrow as it has been. This is true for the Maoist period which included an inexcusable attack on the existing social and intellectual capital of the country, established a rule of fear, and treated the Chinese people as objects of control rather than participants in the creation of their own destiny.
    Equally the process of industrialization and relaxation of state controls on the market has been allowed to take place with an inadequate cushion provided to see that the needs of the population are met and that the environmental and social impact is mediated. Inadequate controls on income distribution may in the long run prove to be its undoing. AS the party bureaucracy slowly merges with the rising bourgeoisie the trend is away from a state which functions to serve the social interests of the working class in China and away from the involvement of the working class in the construction of their society.

    A world socialist economy will not be built on the command centralization of every aspect of production and commerce. I do not think that either Marx or Lenin believed that this would be the case. It is inconsistent with Marx’ vision of the eventual withering of the state and general future vision for socialism, and it is hopelessly impractical. I may sound like a shill for the Koch brothers but economic freedom at a basic level is part of human freedom. I don’t mean the freedom to individually control massive social capital as is the case in the modern imperial state but I do mean the freedom to choose one’s vocation, change ones vocation, provide a service or pursue a vision or idea without state sanction and without unnecessary interference.

    The hyper-centralized command economies that developed under Stalin and Mao and which are presently caricatured in North Korea were not developed for the purpose of building socialism but for the purpose of maintaining the greatest possible degree of state control and routing out possible bases of opposition to the rule of the bureaucratic party. This was particularly evident in Stalin’s forced collectivization of agriculture, which was a blatant attack on a large section of the toilers Stalin feared as an unruly rival to his power.
    Under Mao the “cultural” “revolution” had a similar purpose if a less explicitly economic justification.

    As there will never be a Stalinist command economic utopea/distopia. There will also never be the pure laizzez-faire world that Milton Freidman used to coo about after he laid his head on his pillow for the evening. Purist command economy Stalinists and whichever dummy represents Americans for Progress this week can cry in each others’ beers for the pure world that neither they nor their descendants shall ever see.
    It is difficult to listen to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s analysis and to hear Bloomberg radio commentators argue about the extension of the present quantitative easing plan (QE2) and not feel that to some extent even here in America we live in a planned economy. In this sense Tea Party paranoia as regards Obama’s implementation of socialism is not totally fantastical. The difference of course is one of class power, planned for whose benefit? and degree.

  2. Pingback: From the Critique of the Gotha Programme: As regards the formation of workers’ collectives | Rawlin'sView Blog

  3. rawlinsview says:

    Below is an excerpt from an article with a link provided that fits nicely with the discussion started above.

    (by Heiko Khoo originally published on

    Cuban President Raul Castro and the Cuban Workers’ Federation have announced a plan to reduce the state workforce by up to a million workers in the near future, signaling the start of profound changes. Cuban society is undoubtedly in need of radical reform. At present the state employs around 80 percent of the workforce and planning is supposed to control the entire economic system.

    The Cuban government recognizes that the old system of bureaucratic planning does not work; the state employs ice-cream sellers, taxi drivers and hairdressers, branches of economy where private operations and incentives are normal and natural. Hairdressing is one of the oldest private professions in the world, at least 6000 years old, and private taxis have existed since the first horse drawn carriages. There is no rational argument for public ownership of these sectors.

    The consequences of excessive nationalization have been a number of severe economic distortions. Rations of food and essentials supplement meager real wages; the result is that to secure elementary commodities people are compelled to turn to the black market. The black marketeers and corrupt officials collaborate to enrich themselves, parasitically stealing from the public. In many branches “people pretend to work and the state pretends to pay them”. Lethargy sets in, which fosters support for reactionary forces, thus the young often look to the United States as the model of the good life…..

    To continue follow this link

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