The nineteenth issue of CV, vol. 4, #4 (December 8, 1998, 48 pages total, 43 of text)
contains the following articles:
NEO-LIBERALISM BEGINS TO CRACK (excerpts)
. The world economic crisis that began in East Asia in 1997 has been spreading from one country to another. It has not just devastated the livelihood of dozens of millions of people, but it is beginning to shake the faith of the world bourgeoisie in neo-liberal, free-market economics.Since World War II, the world bourgeoisie has swung back and forth between periods of massive extension of the state sector in various countries and periods of privatization. The long swing to free-market fanaticism in the 1980s and 1990s was bound eventually to lead to a swing of the pendulum back in the other direction; and the growing economic difficulties are the agent spurring on this change.
. So far, there are only small cracks in the neo-liberal orthodoxy, but already it underlines a major issue facing workers and left-wing activists. To fight against capitalist exploitation, it is not sufficient to condemn neo-liberalism. If the working masses are not to be made to pay and pay for solving the capitalist crisis, they must not take protectionism and government regulation as socialistic or even pro-people in itself. Instead they must distinguish between government regulation in general, and measures that benefit the masses. Only the organization of the working class for class struggle can bring real progress, and this struggle must be directed both against the free-market fanatics and against the bourgeois plans to regulate the economy for their own profit.
. This lends importance to the analysis of the state-capitalism of the past. If the left-wing movement sees the old social-democratic economies in Europe as "socialist", or the more developed state-capitalism that existed at one time in Eastern Europe and the late Soviet Union as "communist", it will end up supporting one or another section of the bourgeoisie. It will support a form of capitalism that prepared and strengthened the ruling classes that would later implement the great privatization wave of the 80s and 90s. This issue of Communist Voicecontains a number of articles analyzing the Stalinist form of state-capitalism and showing that it contains within itself the seeds of the free-market bourgeoisie . . . .
Russia--ravaged by market-capitalism today
. Much of the material in this issue of Communist Voice bears on this assessment of state capitalism. The article on the current Russian crisis shows the complete fiasco that the IMF neo-liberal prescriptions have brought to the Russian economy. But it also traces how the roots of this crisis stretch back to the days of state-capitalism (wrongly called "communism" by the state-capitalist bureaucrats in order to reconcile the workers to it). Indeed, much of the current Russian bourgeoisie comes from the old state-capitalist ruling class. Moreover, the competitive struggle of private interests among the Soviet executives already flourished in the Soviet economy, right under the surface of the overall directives mandated by the central ministries. The way forward for the Russian workers must involve struggle against both the new free-market system and nostalgia for the old form of state-capitalism.
Russia--ravaged by state-capitalism yesterday
. Another article focuses mainly on the anarchy of production that existed despite the state planning in the late Soviet Union. It is a review of Walter Daum's book The Life and Death of Stalinism. It shows that Daum, while noting the existence of this anarchy, doesn't grasp its theoretical significance and regards the existence of competition among the Soviet executives as a secondary feature of the Soviet economy. He is blinded by the Trotskyist ideology which he holds so zealously to. In fact, the rampant competition in the Soviet economy was one of the best illustrations of the capitalist nature of the Stalinist system; it shows that the Soviet economy was not organized along Marxist lines.
A Maoist conundrum
. The article on China focuses on what happened to the peasantry during the privatization of the
communes. This is a review of William Hinton's book The Great Reversal: The Privatization of
China, 1978-1989. Hinton discusses many of the sorry results of privatization, but doesn't see its
roots in the old system. The review shows how it proceeded as the result of forces that built up
within the Chinese state-capitalist economy. Moreover, despite Hinton's belief that the
development of Chinese national capitalism (as opposed to foreign-lackey capitalism) is
impossible, privatization actually amounted to a further stage in its development. Hinton doesn't
pay attention to the class differentiation that was growing in the Chinese countryside prior to
privatization. If he had, he might have realized that one cannot simply rally supporters of old
social situation prior to the great reversal, but must organize an independent movement of the
working masses and a new Chinese revolutionary party.
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