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                        On Bureaucratic Collectivism

                                Barry Finger

 [from New Politics, vol. 6, no. 3 (new series), whole no. 23, Summer 1997]

        Barry Finger is a member of the New Politics editorial
        board. His last article on this subject, "Was Russia a
        Workers' State?" appeared in Volume V, No. 2, Winter 1995.

     and its dramatic organizational transformation elsewhere has lent
     impetus to the resurrection of long dormant anti-statist themes in
     the capitalist West. Rather than having the salutary effect of
     clearing a path to the Marxian idea of remaking society from below
     -- of dispensing with the need for modernizing elites, of
     educational dictatorships from on high, and of permanent
     dependence on self-perpetuating bureaucracies -- the demise of
     Stalinism has had the corrosive consequence of thoroughly
     discrediting both revolutionary change and socialist aspiration
     itself. That this is so testifies to just how tightly identified
     Stalinism has been in the popular mind with revolutionary
     socialism, and how socialism itself has been seen as having
     maintained a diluted Western expression in the social-democratic
     welfare state. However unwelcome, this consequence can not be said
     to have been unanticipated. For whatever else so murderously
     separated capitalism from Stalinism, they remained unified both in
     their overarching fear of the revolutionary, democratic ideals
     which gave birth to the Russian revolution and to a working class
     whose latent power, once awakened, threatens the continuation of
     minority class rule, no matter the form. The opprobrium with which
     socialism is now so deeply stained is the unsavory dividend of
     decades of Stalinist ideological collaboration with the
     housebroken legions of the western intelligentsia -- both of the
     right and "left-wing" variety -- ever eager to adorn the latest
     Stalinist outrage with the patina of socialism.

     In Neither Capitalism nor Socialism,* a volume painstakingly put
     together from obscure journals and bulletins now virtually
     unattainable, Ernest Haberkern and Arthur Lipow introduce and
     place into political context the emergence of a unique and
     dissident political and intellectual current from the Trotskyist
     movement which, from its inception, wrestled with the issues that
     shaped and defined the past 60 years of world history. The book is
     divided into four sections which roughly correspond to the
     political chronology of "bureaucratic collectivism" from its
     embryonic beginnings. It ranges from the rejoinders to Leon
     Trotsky by James Burnham and French Trotskyist Yves Craipeau,
     through the conquest of new political and theoretical departures
     against the backdrop of the Hitler-Stalin Pact World War II and
     the post-war extension of Stalinism throughout Eastern Europe and
     China. Written from a revolutionary socialist perspective, it
     contains contributions from Max Shachtman, Hal Draper, Dwight
     Macdonald, Joseph Carter and Jack Brad. In their introduction,
     Haberkern and Lipow assess the significance of bureaucratic
     collectivism -- a third form society, neither capitalist nor
     socialist -- not only in historical perspective, that is, in its
     Stalinist form, but as a continuing challenge for socialism in the
     emerging post-Cold War world.

     The Yugoslav revolutionary Ante Ciliga expressed the problem in
     its full profundity.

          The enigma of the Russian revolution that humanity and
          the international workers' movement must solve is
          exactly this: how has it come about that all that
          constitutes the October revolution has been entirely
          abolished, while its outward forms have been retained;
          that the exploitation of workers and peasants have been
          brought back to life without reviving private
          capitalists and landowners; that a revolution, begun in
          order to abolish the exploitation of man by man, has
          ended by installing a new type of exploitation.

     Others, including Ciliga offered explanations and some in the
     narrowest and most formal sense approached political conclusions
     arrived at by the Workers Party-Independent Socialist League
     (WP-ISL), from whose pages or under whose inspiration, this book
     is largely culled. Trotsky himself came to the precipice,
     conceding that the trajectory of revolutionary degeneration might
     well hurl society back beyond capitalism to a new form of class
     slavery. The question of whether the burgeoning Soviet bureaucracy
     was best understood as "class" or "caste" was ultimately fended
     off by Trotsky who anticipated a revolutionary upsurge at the end
     of World War II which would reduce the issue to one of historic
     curiosity without practical significance.

     This was a dodge which could not be sustained by the end of the
     war. A sober response to Ciliga's question required transcending
     the type of analysis by platitude which satisfied itself by
     characterizing Stalinism as merely a form of "totalitarianism" and
     that explained its genesis by the outcome of "crimes and
     excesses," or "mistaken policies" that were the inevitable result
     of immutable historic phenomena. The theory of bureaucratic
     collectivism argued, to the contrary, that the tendencies which
     give rise to this new form of class society, once understood,
     could only be combated and eradicated by a self-organized and
     politically conscious working class; that socialism, in other
     words, cannot be achieved without the full and active
     participation of the working class in building its new social
     order. And this is what distinguishes the precursors of the theory
     such as Bruno Rizzi or James Burnham -- who insisted with a dogged
     determination reinforced by their own rich but nonetheless
     one-dimensional insights into the phenomenon, that the historic
     moment for socialism had passed -- from the independent socialist
     tendency of the WP-ISL for whom bureaucratic collectivism became
     the anteroom to a reorientation of socialist theory. In the hands
     of the latter, bureaucratic collectivism facilitated the cleansing
     or jettisoning of the most mistaken views of revolutionary
     socialism and became a vehicle for the forceful reassertion and
     amplification of that cardinal principle of Marxism, namely, the
     fundamental inseparability of socialism and democracy, and for the
     repositioning of that understanding at the very heart of the
     revolutionary socialist program.1

     It is moreover to the lasting credit of the WP-ISL that they drew
     an understanding from this premise that the production relations
     of a state collectivism without democratic feedback from below,
     that is of totalitarian collectivism, would eventually engender
     insurmountable impediments to the continued viability of the
     system itself. That they were at first overzealous in this regard,
     believing that Stalinism was nationally confined, does not detract
     from the essential breakthrough provided by the theory. It does
     place them light-years ahead of that long list of learned folk who
     saw, for good or ill, humanity's future tied to one variant or
     another of bureaucratic collectivism.

     Other tendencies and political currents on the left, such as
     social democracy and "orthodox" Trotskyism, also profess hatred of
     Stalinism, but lack even the most rudimentary understanding of it.
     They have remained, at best, non-Stalinist, powerless to
     contribute -- much less enrich -- a broader anti-Stalinist
     current. It is precisely in their lack of understanding of
     bureaucratic collectivism that they remain, for all their
     otherwise demonstrably robust distinctions, symmetrical political
     entities. It is not merely that both have historically "defended"
     socialism by acting as ideological agents of reconciliation
     between the Western working classes and the ruling classes of one
     of the two contending imperialist forces. That they also did so,
     despite urging the working classes to remain politically
     independent of the Stalinist parties and movements, where this was
     still possible, was equally an imperative of organizational
     self-justification as it was a symptom of anti-Stalinist insight
     and therefore no more laudable for that pretext alone.

     THE LARGER ROOT OF THE NON-STALINIST LEFT'S ideological confusion,
     however, lies rather in the differing weight assigned by it and
     the independent socialist tendency to the connection of socialism
     and democracy. Irresolution at this fundamental level has time and
     again rendered the non-Stalinist left ideologically susceptible to
     a weakened contagion of the same strain of bureaucratic
     collectivism which it opposes in its most virulent form. This
     manifests itself in the continuing "discovery" of some purported
     underlying socialistic dynamic to existing class societies as
     justification for their respective political capitulations: social
     democracy identified this momentum in the growth of public
     enterprises under capitalism, as well as in the state management
     of demand and the broad administrative regulation of corporate
     behavior; Trotskyism 2 (and the Stalinoid wing of social
     democracy, for that matter) in the enlargement of nationalized
     industry and state planning under Stalinism. Either way, socialism
     is found to have emerged through bureaucratic labyrinths, behind
     the backs and without the active stewardship of the working class
     -- indeed regardless of whether the working class, however large
     its social weight, plays any active political role whatsoever in
     society or is even, for that matter, the beneficiary of the most
     elementary of political rights.

     The collapse of state collectivization in the East and its
     parallel shrinkage in the West is of comparatively recent
     circumstance. As a social tendency, however, the rise of the
     bureaucracy as a third social force in contemporary society had
     its roots in the mounting inability of inter- and post-war
     capitalist accumulation to maintain social cohesiveness. In the
     Stalinist social system, bureaucratic collectivism emerged full
     blown from the defeat of the Russian working class and the
     annihilation of the Bolshevik party. It was historically rooted in
     the very backwardness of Russian capitalism, yet had as its
     precondition the successful revolutionary destruction of
     capitalist power. But where a doddering capitalism was limping
     along -- still profitable perhaps, but plainly incapable of
     maintaining social coherence on its own accord -- reliance on
     bureaucratic crutches was a painful yet unavoidable concession to

     This social tendency forced its way through different channels
     than those experienced in Russia. Clearly bureaucratic intrusions
     especially in post-war European society, but paralleled by the
     burgeoning permanent arms economy and nascent welfare statism of
     America, were historic innovations signifying something other than
     the mere bolstering of capitalism. These departures inoculated
     capitalism with the germ-cells of a unique and unprecedented set
     of social relations. Personnel from the disintegrating managerial
     and administrative strata of capitalism -- enlisted both to
     oversee the state sector and to reassure and thereby fracture the
     resistance of capital to it -- merged with breakaway sections of
     the labor bureaucracy. Superimposed and crowding against the
     dynamic of capital self-expansion, there was now an ever-expanding
     state bureaucracy, drawing its strength increasingly at the
     expense of the two contending classes and against the social
     alternatives which they represented.

     This project assumed a variety of national experience, from overt
     statist planning in France, to the functional merger of the state
     with leading cartels in Japan. National peculiarities aside, the
     mixed economies found their common attribute in the permanently
     sustained increase of the proportionate size of government
     expenditure. This gave the state a propulsive role not only in
     determining the volume, but in shaping the composition of overall
     demand. Demand management at the state level fundamentally altered
     certain characteristics of the business cycle and, moreover,
     suggested a back door by which it could begin to supplant the
     capital market as the primary allocative mechanism of investment.
     This was a tendency not only foreseen, but welcomed by Keynes as
     foreshadowing the "euthanasia of the rentier."

     Haberkern and Lipow unfortunately locate the bureaucratic
     collectivist inroads to capitalism elsewhere -- not in the rise of
     an ever more autonomous state bureaucracy, but in the corporate
     form itself. This is a relapse into Burnham's theory in the
     Managerial Revolution and a retreat from the analysis that stems
     directly from Marx. For the latter, the modern joint stock company
     is notable precisely because shareholders collectivize risk and
     profit and thereby, by degrees, negate the anarchy of the
     marketplace. This expresses the self-collectivizing tendencies
     within a healthy and dynamic capitalism. It is a step further in
     organizational modification well beyond the earlier transformation
     of the capitalist pricing system into a redistributive mechanism
     allocating surplus-value in accordance with average profit rates.
     By these means, capitalism, in its corporate form, is able to
     vastly augment its ability to accumulate, to rationalize its
     existing production facilities and to avail itself of
     technological advances which, together, marked capitalist
     production as truly synonymous with mass production. The corporate
     bureaucracy, moreover, fails to evolve in the direction of class
     autonomy, because as soon as it acquires capital it is reabsorbed
     into the preexisting network of social relations and is subject to
     the same social parameters as the organizational property form
     which gave birth to it.

     the need to hold a disintegrating capitalism together -- which
     were not, in other words, an organic outgrowth of capitalist
     accumulation itself, but of its mounting difficulties --
     represented an internal adaptation and concession to a rising
     third social force operating on a world scale. The very permanence
     of supplementary state interventions signified a tacit
     acknowledgement of the immanence of crisis conditions simmering
     below the surface of post-war prosperity. But because the state
     sector is so completely entangled with the modern market economy,
     it is impossible, as a practical matter, to anticipate what
     adjustments a shrinkage in the state sector could generate in any
     concrete situation to offset the slack in demand. Nevertheless,
     the continued recourse of capitalism to the adjunct of a mixed
     economy signifies a continued process of internal decay, of a
     capitalism unable to utilize the very economic resources that it,
     itself, generates. Even in the midst of relative affluence,
     American capitalism has proven chronically incapable of solving
     the economic question for millions of workers, above all for black
     and minority communities which continue to exist in a Lazarus-like
     economic twilight.

     The problem is that although state production detracts from
     capital accumulation, it is also possible that economic activity
     would be even more depressed in the absence of state-induced
     production. This is because when the state borrows idle capital it
     mobilizes assets which would not be otherwise used and absorbs
     them into its own sphere. Markets are thereby cleared, but without
     system-wide accumulation and, moreover, without the imperative
     improvement in overall profitability previously required for
     self-resolution in the classical form of capitalist crises. The
     state simply places into circulation a chain of inputs from
     intermediary suppliers that can now be individually realized as
     profits through the issuance of state contracts. State activity,
     under such circumstances, extends economic activity beyond the
     point where it is capitalistically justifiable. Any future
     deterioration in the level of state demand can then only be offset
     by an invigorated accumulation process if the conditions of
     profitability have already been reestablished; if the previously
     existing idle capital could now, in other words, be
     capitalistically employed. Should real accumulation actually
     resume this would be attributable not to the actions of the state,
     either in priming the pump or in relinquishing its control over
     economic resources, but because excess capital values have
     previously been purged and an overall improvement in the
     extraction of surplus value has already been attained -- in short,
     because a massive restructuring of the system has improved the
     prospects for self-expansion on the part of the surviving capital

     THE state bureaucracy in modern capitalism, as opposed to the
     corporate bureaucracy, has built into it an autonomizing dynamic.
     This is entirely distinct from Bonapartism, to which the
     capitalist class occasionally seeks recourse in periods of
     revolutionary turmoil and which may, in its extremes, attain
     political independence. This independence does not tend to class
     autonomy insofar as the Bonapartist bureaucracy does not struggle
     to define a separate economic role for itself in society. Its
     functions are confined to reinforcing and enhancing the repressive
     functions of the capitalist state -- functions which may require
     the curtailment of political rights even for bourgeois parties,
     but not the abridgement of bourgeois property rights, beyond the
     costs of repression itself. This engorged bureaucracy is an ad hoc
     inconvenience for capitalism to be dispensed with when its
     services are no longer required, as illustrated most recently by
     the grisly Chilean experience.

     The modern administrative state bureaucracy, on the other hand, is
     a permanent feature of capitalism, grounded in the fundamental
     economic deficiencies of capitalism rather than in any acute
     political crisis. This state bureaucracy, even if marketing no
     values of its own, has no means of exchange other than what it
     expropriates from the private sector through its taxing or
     borrowing powers. (And, insofar as loans are payment through
     installment, debt retirement presupposes additional future taxes
     on capital.) For what appears to be accumulation on the part of
     capitalists operating under state contracts is in fact realized
     through the withdrawal of surplus value from the system as a
     whole, that is by deductions from the accumulation fund which
     would otherwise be available to expand the two major departments
     of capitalist production. The fundamental distinction between
     capitalist production and economic activity per se is thereby
     effaced. The difference between outright nationalization which,
     under some circumstances, can be clearly seen as anti-capitalist,
     and the massive state interventionism undertaken by the
     bureaucracy is therefore, too, an artificial one. Although clouded
     by the formal change in property relations, the fact remains that
     state-induced economic activity is fundamentally anti-capitalist
     in scope -- even if it provides a measure of economic
     stabilization -- without being socialist in content. The mixed
     economy may have been conceived, and is still touted, solely as a
     full-employment program realized through state intervention to
     enhance the private enterprise system. But the price paid for this
     temporary stability is an entrenched state apparatus which secures
     and expands its control over economic resources bureaucratically
     and wields that control both without opportunity for direct,
     private ownership and without relinquishing that control to
     democratic participation from below.

     As long as capital is accumulating, the state can expand
     proportionally and, in tandem with the private sector, lift the
     economy to levels approaching full capacity employment. In such
     periods of relative prosperity, the tendency of the state sector
     to encroach beyond the established baseline level of economic
     involvement remains latent. So too, the revolving door that exists
     between the upper tier of state bureaucracy and ever more
     lucrative positions in the corporate bureaucracy acts as a
     retardant to the evolution of a solidified, institutional class
     consciousness on the part of state administrators. This is
     reinforced by the political control exercised by the bourgeois
     parties over large swaths of discretionary fiscal policy.

     Nevertheless, "welfare statism," as such, certainly became the
     expression, if not the ideology, around which this new
     class-in-the-making began to coopt and dominate mass movements for
     change, promising identification with labor and reformist
     aspirations without actually strengthening the forces of
     opposition. Their support was reconfigured, not as active
     participants for social progress, but solely as the objects of
     bureaucratic action. Welfare statism offered the prospect of
     countering, as if class consciously, the weight of big business
     and big labor in the "public" interest, an interest which it so
     fortuitously claimed to embody. On this basis it continually
     expanded its mass base by uniting a cross section of class and
     community interest groups into unified patronage constituencies,
     whose continued prosperity was dependent on a corresponding growth
     of bureaucratic influence and power. Yet its mental horizons
     remained remarkably limited, as evidenced by its glaring inability
     to definitively advance the national integration of administrative

     With the end of post-war prosperity, a prosperity limited in
     capitalist terms both by relatively low profit rates and
     dependency on comparatively large doses of state-induced activity,
     the incipient tendency of the state to expand its consumption at
     the expense of capital accumulation became manifest. Yet because
     the inherent tendency of profit to fall under capitalism must be
     contravened by ever more feverish rates of accumulation, the
     expansion of the state sector in times of crisis threatens to
     intensify the breakdown of the system. The system, therefore,
     began to come face to face with a new social dilemma: not only was
     there a crisis of capitalism, but there was a crisis of the mixed
     economy itself -- of the interpenetration of two competing and, at
     length, contradictory economic dynamics at work in modern society.
     For state activity can at length stave off the cumulative momentum
     of economic contraction solely by imposing a barrier against the
     very massacre of values, including the value of labor-power,
     otherwise needed to restore profitability. But circumventing the
     purgative process that such a deep economic contraction would
     entail requires a relentless diversion of excess, non-profitable
     capital to the state sector, a diversion so massive as to threaten
     an overturn of the established social equilibrium. The elements of
     the predicament began to unravel in unmistakable terms: either the
     ever-evolving submission of the existing economy to bureaucratic
     direction under the auspices of the state or the decisive
     reassertion of the value-profit relationships of the market sector
     over a drastically reduced and hence manageable "public" sphere.

     To arrest the decay of the private enterprise system would require
     nothing less than the total overhaul and reversal of the general
     developmental trend of post-war capitalism. To be sure, there was
     always a latent tendency residing in the mass base of capitalism
     to halt and revoke the reliance on stabilizing social forces from
     without its ranks for a return to traditional forms of repression
     and market discipline. This sentiment was usually confined to the
     margins of capitalist parties or beyond. The "Republican
     revolution," which actually has its roots in the Reagan
     Administration and its counterpart in the Thatcher regime, is the
     crowning achievement of a massive, corporately financed
     ideological retrenchment. Business sponsored think-tanks now
     offered the hat-in-hand intellectual set, the reserve army of
     academia, the very security so seldom available through
     traditional academic pursuits. It is through this conduit that
     capitalist reaction was sanitized and lifted from relative
     obscurity to new-found prominence. The taxpaying host, or some
     equally potent yet empty abstraction, which the bureaucracy
     supposedly "exploited" finally became the rallying point of
     reactionary resentment. The aims of this burgeoning "revolution"
     were quite simply to replicate through internalization the very
     dynamic purportedly at work internationally. Yet, this lusty
     second childhood that capitalism has now apparently lit upon
     remains recklessly oblivious to the sobering paradox that the
     collapse of bureaucratic collectivism in the formerly Stalinist
     nations has yet to offer the West any tangible commercial momentum
     to displace its own state sector through the export of surplus
     capital abroad.

     Despite the right's scapegoating of the usual litany of social
     culprits for the hated rise of the welfare state -- in a campaign
     of demonization which, in its vehemence, has brought to the fore
     every atavistic and retrograde prejudice and paranoid delusion in
     the American psyche -- the fact remains that the rise of the state
     bureaucracy finds its reason, above all, in the malfunction of
     private capital production. As a form of collectivization conjured
     up against a disintegrating capitalist society, the mixed economy
     has provided the system with a degree of social cohesion purchased
     on the cheap. For the welfare state dissipated and diffused the
     oppositional tendencies of the exploited and oppressed, tendencies
     already long weakened and disoriented by the pall cast by
     Stalinism over insurgent movements for change, and did so without
     actual redress of the fundamental social problems which it, too,
     proved at length powerless to overcome. For this reason alone, the
     existence of bureaucratic collectivism, although perhaps not in
     its Stalinist form, will forever be tethered to the continued
     existence of capitalism in decline. What we are witnessing today
     is merely the forced renegotiation of the terms of engagement.

     a distorted reflection of the fact that real social advance
     requires some form of collectivization. Where the working class
     cannot organize its forces to overthrow capitalism and establish
     the free rule of labor, bureaucracy invariably arises as an
     independent, substitute social force. The state bureaucracies,
     Stalinist or otherwise, can address the unengaged historic tasks
     of labor, but only with reactionary, anti-socialist consequences.
     The 20th century has verified, in horrific detail, the fundamental
     truth of that proposition by the manifest failure of these forces,
     either alone or in combination, to resolve the most pressing needs
     of humanity. The studies assembled by Haberkern and Lipow which
     anticipated this conclusion stemmed from an examination of the
     "Russian question." The tragic failure of a workers' revolution
     demanded clarification of the fundamental propositions and
     purposes of revolutionary socialism with a sweep and urgency that
     few other issues could claim. Rare were those in the broad
     revolutionary movement able to rise to the challenge. This
     contribution from those who did constitutes a unique and enduring
     addition to the arsenal of socialism.


     * Ernest E. Haberkern and Arthur Lipow, editors, Neither
     Capitalism nor Socialism, Humanities Press, Atlantic Highlands,
     1996. return

       1. In a lamentable subtext to this volume the editors seek to
          separate Max Shachtman, the leading personality of the
          WP-ISL, from the independent socialist heritage. It is true
          that Shachtman did not initially develop the most far-seeing
          or consistent version of the bureaucratic collectivist
          theory. That was done by Joseph Carter, a brilliant
          theoretician in the early Trotskyist movement. But it must
          also be noted that the "bowdlerization" of Shachtman's
          article, "Is Russia a Workers' State?", that the editors make
          so much of, cannot simply be attributed to his later
          political collapse. The essay first appeared in that form,
          cleansed of its semi-Trotskyist conclusions, in the
          January-February 1952 issue of The New International. It was
          modified openly, and with an editor's introduction to avert
          any confusion as to what the movement stood for. Where
          Shachtman's strengths lay and remain overlooked by the
          editors' unease with his final, ambiguous legacy was in his
          development, amplification and application of the theory. It
          is not merely that he defended the heritage of the Russian
          revolution and "debunked the claims of several apologists for
          Stalinism such as Isaac Deutscher," but that he did so while
          trailblazing an independent socialist or third camp
          formulation of that defense. That is also what the essays
          assembled in the Bureaucratic Revolution reflect, and what
          the Struggle for the New Course is all about. Third camp
          socialism, moreover, provided the context for his remarkable
          articles on the colonial and national liberation problems
          which, in turn, became the springboard for his spirited
          opposition to the competing imperialist camps during World
          War II and to the post-war division of Europe. The theory of
          bureaucratic collectivism alone made possible the view best
          articulated by Shachtman that the Communist political parties
          were in but not of the labor movement. And it was this
          insight that alerted him to other, social democratic roads to
          bureaucratic collectivism. While the editors provide some
          worthwhile insights, they should be augmented with "The Two
          Deaths of Max Shachtman" by Julius Jacobson which appeared in
          the Winter 1973 issue of this journal and Peter Drucker's Max
          Shachtman and His Left. return

       2. It is also of note that all the weaknesses of Trotsky's
          theory are augmented in the state-capitalist theory
          identified with Tony Cliff, leading theoretician of the
          British Trotskyist movement. Here the Stalinist bureaucracy
          is assigned the task of completing the historic mission of
          the bourgeoisie, because the state ownership of the means of
          production purportedly gives a "tremendous lever" to the
          development of the productive forces. This preserves
          Trotsky's earliest theory that the bureaucracy represented a
          centrist, i.e., pro-capitalist wing and splices it to the
          later interpretations dominant in Trotskyist circles which
          invented the "transitional" character of Stalinist society as
          a bridge between capitalism and socialism. Thus, far from
          casting society back to a new form of barbarism, the
          Cliffites held Stalinism as tracking the highest pinnacle of
          capitalist development. It followed that the Stalinist
          parties were viewed merely as a version of social democracy,
          or labor reformism and a more left-wing version of the
          species at that. This melange has been offered as a
          corrective to the "supra-historical" theory of bureaucratic
          collectivism. Needless to say, history has been less than
          kind to this theory on every account. (See "The Theory of
          Bureaucratic Collectivism: A Critique," reprinted in Neither
          Washington nor Moscow, Bookmarks, 1982.)

          It would take this essay far afield from the theme under
          consideration to deal comprehensively with the theory of
          state capitalism, one of the most perennially stultifying and
          disorienting explanations of Stalinism. Marxism is an
          instrument for interpreting living reality and as such its
          propositions are provisional, meaning that they must be
          tested, modified and improved as required by evolving
          circumstances. State capitalism instead reduces Marxism to
          dogma whereby the material means of production under
          Stalinism, a form of society unanticipated by Marx, are
          treated as capital. They acquire this attribute not because
          they express a definite social relation between specific
          classes expressed through the instrumentality of things --
          this after all being the method of Capital and presupposes,
          reasonably enough, private ownership, i.e. the existence of
          capitalists -- but because the accumulation of the means of
          production are a precondition of expanded reproduction, and
          capitalism was seen by Marx as that form of expanded
          reproduction that prepares society for socialism. QED
          Stalinism equals capitalism. Any other conclusion would,
          according to the Cliff church, render "Marxism as a method,
          as a guide for the proletariat as the subject of historical
          change (...) superfluous, meaningless." return

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