RE: [OPE] Question to Marxologists: Mode of production

Date: Fri Sep 05 2008 - 08:08:54 EDT

Hi Paul:
The surplus product in the former USSR was produced by workers
in state-owned businesses and in collectives as well as (depending
upon what time period we're talking about) and in the private (market)
sector by small business owners and peasants. For the most part,
the state controlled the distribution of the surplus generated in state-
owned businesses and collectives (although, depending on the
period you are talking about, some of the collectives had limited
authority to make some of those decisions for themselves).
The private sector was generally pretty heavily regulated and they
didn't have complete authority to use the surplus in whatever way
they wished. Of course, the story is more complicated than this because
the USSR went through different periods in which these relations changed and
in which market activity was tolerated or clamped-down on (e.g.
War Communism, the NEP, the period of forced collectivization,
perestroika, etc.). There were thus different modes of surplus
generation and distribution over the course of the USSR's history.
Underlying this issue is the class character of the Soviet state.
Was it a 'capitalist state'? I don't think so for various reasons.
For one, you need to have capitalists and capitalist relationships
before you can have a capitalist state. To the extent that you
had actual (small or underground) capitalists, they were not very
influential in determining state policies.
Was it a 'workers' state'? Well, did workers control decision-making?
Did they have genuine freedom and autonomy? I don't think so.
It was the Party (the CPSU) which directed state policy; one can
not conflate the 'Party' with the proletariat. Party bureaucrats
and technocrats had decision-making authority _rather than_ workers
(or capitalists).
No. The USSR was _neither_ socialist _or_ capitalist. That assessment
is the reason I am hesitant to define the mode of production which
operated in that society.
In solidarity, Jerry
> OK then you have to say what the specific mode of surplus extraction is > under socialism, and we are back where David was talking a week ago.

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Received on Fri Sep 5 08:13:56 2008

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