- Capitalism and Alternatives -

The U.S.S.R. wasn't state capitalism, it was state socialism; can you appreciate the distinction?

Posted by: Barry Stoller on January 25, 19100 at 00:17:13:

In Reply to: Power, even in teh absence of property, can be transmitted indefinitely. posted by Nikhil Jaikumar on January 24, 19100 at 09:56:34:

: Work? Work? Jiang Qing didn't get to where she was because of WORK! She got her power by sleeping with the most powerful man in China! Is sleeping your way to the top really the path we should be endorsing?

Slow down, those statements at the end of your sentences are too melodramatic!

Mao's widow had power while Mao ran the show. She lost it after he died. With property rights, she would have continued to have the same power.

: Also, she did continue to wield power for a while after Mao died.

For a while? Not long. Let's not split hairs here, you know what I'm saying.

Despite the fact that the working class did not in any meaningful sense control its economic and political destiney in the Soveit system, there wer nevertheless significant socialist features of that system. One was state (and cooperative) ownership of virtually the entire means of production. This meant there was no class of property owners who could ever gain an income simply by virtue of owning property. Legitimate income in the Soviet system came only from work.(1)

: However, Mao and Stalin (although not all socialists or communist leaders) in fact had more power over their citizens than does capital in the West; while capital's reign in the West is near-absolute, Mao's was simply absolute.

Not the point. We all know that Stalin was a tyrant. The point is: was Stalin representing a class?

You seem to see the Tsar's tyranny, see Stalin's tyranny, and conclude that since tyranny was common to both forms of rule that boths forms of rule were the SAME. They were not. The Tsar's tyranny was founded on property rights; Stalin's was founded on bureaucratic centralization. The rule of the Tsars lasted centuries; the rule of Stalin lasted 39 years.

: ...[B]ut it is POSSIBLE for someone to lose money in the bank "in a flash" like you said.

When a CEO of an American company gets fired, the company does NOT empty out his / her bank account while cancelling any pension / severage packages agreed upon previously. When Khruschev got sacked, all power ended.

: As for how LIKELY it is, how many children of old revolutionaries in China are poor or oppressed today?

You tell me. Let's see some substantive citations.

Stoller: Do you see the difference?

: YEs, I think I do, but I don't think the difference is suffiecient reason to advocate supporting Mao on any grounds whatsoever.

Excuse me? Are you trying out a new type of coffee or something? Who said I was 'advocat[ing] supporting' Mao?

Read the last part of this, please...

Stoller: The implications, that bureaucratically deformed worker's states are STILL socialist (in the key area of property), led to the classic Spartacist position of supporting these countries against capitalist offenses (while simultaneously calling for worker's revolutions to overthrow the bureaucratic usurpers).

Stoller: There's power from bureaucratic position in a property-less society.

There's power from property in a propertied state.

The latter power is MUCH greater, MUCH more lasting than the former.

: Here's where I disagree. Threats to capitalism's power (in teh form of social democracy and redistribution) are actually more powerful in teh West than threats to bureaurcatic power in Maoist China. Think of how unlikely it woudl be for a FDR or a Jimmy Carter to come to power in China. If an oppressive bureacracy in a 'property;less' state was merely an ephemeral thing like you say, then how come China's been essentially the same sort of tyranny from 1949 to the present, worse at times, better at others.

First, mention of FDR and Cartner are non sequiturs. They both represented a certain class (the capitalist class), and that class was never challenged by either of those presidents---contrary to what knuckleheads like DonS may say.

Second, tyranny has abated little since the 1949 revolution, agreed. Still not the point. The tyrants' power is UNSTABLE individually. Class power---Roman, feudal, capitalist----continues in clearly marked paternal lines.

The attempt to represent the Soviet bureaucracy as a class of 'state capitalists' will obviously not withstand criticism. The bureaucracy has neither stocks nor bonds. It is recruited, supplemented and renewed in the manner of an administrative hierarchy, independently of any special property relations of its own. The individual bureaucrat cannot transmit to his heirs his rights in the exploitation of the state apparatus...Privileges have only half their worth, if they cannot be transmitted to one's childen. But the right of testament is inseparable from the right of property. It is not enough to be the director of a trust; it is necessary to be a stockholder.(2)

Stoller: I assert that any STABLE form of socialism must have private property (and I always mean private property in the means of production when I say private property) abolished. Otherwise capitalism will reemerge.

: But you haven't proved to MY satisfaction, either, that the collapse of any socialist country was actually due to their tolerance of a limited amount of private property.

I would ask you to consider the history of capital itself.

Capital started off small. Monopoly capital didn't even emerge until 150 yeras later (give or take) at the end of the 19th century. All the while the state was centralized (compared to feudal disunity), meaning the evolution of monopoly capital could have been halted.

Capital MUST continue to expand, it is the fundamental purpose of capital to expand. To speak of 'small capital' as an eternal quality is to deny the times we live in, the hegemony of world capitalism, a product of capital's historical development since the late 1600s when capital was little more than a small agricultural holding...



1. Kotz and Weir Revolution From Above, Routledge 1997, p. 26.

2. Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed, Doubleday, Doran & Co. 1937, pp. 249 & 254.

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