[OPE-L:2777] Re: origins of state capitalist theories

Murray Smith (msmith@spartan.ac.brocku.ca)
Wed, 31 Jul 1996 11:00:45 -0700 (PDT)

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On Wed, 31 Jul 1996, Paul Cockshott wrote:

> Murray:
> >Some members of this faction developed a
> >"bureaucratic collectivist" analysis of the Soviet Union (Shachtman,
> >Burnham)-- a theory originally proposed by the Italian Bruno Rizzi -- and
> >others embraced the notion of "state capitalism" (which had already been
> >advanced by Amadeo Bordiga and the Spanish Trotskyist Grandizo Munis,
> >among others).
> Paul C:
> Are you sure that Bordiga had published anything on state capitalism
> prior to the late 40s. He was in prison from the late 20s until, I think,
> the start of the 40s, and in Mussolini's Italy would have had little opportunity
> to start publishing again until after the war. His most important
> works to analyse the USSR: 'Dialogue with Stalin', 'Dialogue with the dead',
> 'Economic and Social Structure of Russia today', all appeared in the 50s.
> I was under the impression that one of the more significant Marxists to
> put forward a theory of state capitalism early on was Kautsky.


Paul is certainly right that Bordiga's published writings on Russian
state capitalism appeared in the 1950s (and 1960s I think). In the early
years of his incarceration his followers (and likely Bordiga himself)
held a position similar to Trotsky on the class nature of the Soviet state.
This is indicated by Trotsky's correspondence with a Bordigist group in
1929-30. I was under the impression that the Bordigists adopted the idea,
already in circulation, that the USSR was capitalist or state-capitalist
some time in the 1930s, but I might be wrong about that. You are also
quite right to point out that the original authors of the notion of
"state capitalism in the USSR" were social democrats, Kautsky (in his
1919 "Terrorism and Communism", I believe) foremost among them. It is
important to distinguish between "left" (or "ultra-left") versions of the
theory (associated with Munis, C.L.R. James, Dunayevskaya, Bordiga,
syndicalism, "council communism" etc.) and right versions (historically
associated with social democracy).

Murray Smith