Note 57 on the weakness of the left theory of “STATE CAPITALISM”

Below is the 57th footnote to my, hopefully, soon to be completed, paper on Preobrazhensky with its accompanying text.

State Capitalist’ The term “state-capitalist” is a term of self-identification among some Marxist groups who are either non-orthodox post Maoists or in some other cases groups which derive from Trotskyism but have separated from one the core tenets of Trotsky’s theories. On occasion it may be an epithet. The phrase is tossed about by or at, individuals who consider themselves to be part of the ‘revolutionary left’ and hold the opinion that socialism was either never established or that it was established and then defeated to the point that a new capitalist class formed in the Soviet Union at some point during or before the reign of Stalin. This view holds that social relations in the Soviet Union became essentially capitalist in character for part or all of the duration of the Soviet regime. [56] [57]

[56] The view is represented in academic Marxism by the late Paul Sweezy, in the broadly referenced Class Struggles in the USSR, by Bettleheim and in the original editorial orientation of Monthly Review Press and Journal. It is also the view of the International Socialist Organization and some others amongst currently practicing left political tendencies. This form of “state-capitalist” analysis should be distinguished from more orthodox Maoism which has a theoretically similar but separately derived vantage point. It should also be distinguished from the linguistically  identical but more scientifically accurate term used to identify a tendency of Bonapartist and mature capitalist regimes to highly centralize the operation of industrial economy  and distribution of surplus value under the coordination of a dominant state, often for the purpose of concentrating resources toward military development.

[57] The fundamental problem with the ‘state capitalist’ theory is that by calling state-monopoly-socialism (my term) “capitalism” it does not allow for distinction to be made as regards clearly separate phenomenon. It discounts the historical importance of many of the signature events of the 20th century, the Russian Revolution, The Chinese Revolution, the overthrow of capitalism and defeat of imperialism in Vietnam and the Cuban Revolution which has been a beacon for social transformation in Latin America. It feeds in to the neo-colonial caricature of the DPRK (North Korea) promoted by the United States Government and other imperial powers. And it makes a hash of distinction between bourgeois national anti-imperial–albeit in many cases semi-Bonapartist– governments such as that in Iran, a country with a fully functioning capitalist class, and state-socialist regimes such as Cuba in which the operation of the law of value, rights of private property and the development of the political power of a real bourgeoisie—one with the juridical right to purchase labor and sell commodities in their own name—are all severely curtailed.

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This entry was posted in Bonapartism, E.A. Preobrazhensky, Open Discussion, Political Economy, State Capitalism. Bookmark the permalink.

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