State Capitalism and stalinism - a question

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State Capitalism and stalinism - a question
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Last weekend's discussion involved a discussion about the nature of the state which touched upon the issue of Stalinism a bit. Obviously you guys' conception of state capitalism is very different from the trots' - in Trotskyism the stalinist regimes such as the USSR, China, etc, were regarded as "deformed workers' states" however horrific and the "working class" was deemed to have "taken power". Whereas I think, If I understand correctly, that you regard state capitalism as another form of capitalism.

I have a question about Stalinism however. I am currently reading your book "Communism, not a nice idea..." and in it I think that it implies that Marx was saying that the tendency of Capital in the 19th century was to move to a more centralised mode of production and to concentrate more and more capital, either in the hands of state, or the hands of smaller and smaller groups of capitalists. You can see this tendency in capitalism today.

My question is this. Given that state capitalism is another form of capitalism rather than a "workers' state" or anything like that, is it possible that the ruling class of one or more countries could try to introduce a form of Stalinism in order to save the system which i think we are all agreed in a state of decay, and by that I mean confiscating property from private capitalists (and putting it in the hands of the state rather than the workers) nationalising industries and that sort of thing? I have heard that China is sort of at a midway point between Stalinism and private capitalism, and I was wondering whether it might be possible that other bourgeois regimes might make moves in that direction in order to save capitalism from the "anarchy of the markets".

or is that bollocks? is it ever feasible that they'd do this?


tactics of the bourgeoisie

It's entirely possible that the bourgeoisie would do this, commiegirl, it has done it before. Widespread state-control of industry was normal in 'the West' before the 1980s. In the UK, between the 1940s and 1970s, coal, steel, railways, part of the car industry, shipbuilding, telecommunications, water, gas and electricity were all state-owned - there may have been more that I can't think of at the moment.


The original owners weren't dispossessed without compensation, but in principle they might have been had it been deemed it was in 'the national interest'.

Can a new form of Stalinism

Can a new form of Stalinism save capitalism from its terminal decline or mortal crisis or whatever? Good question. Historically, while Stalinism was somewhat effective in developing the Soviet economy; it  was dependent  on heavy industry, the militarization of labour, the brutal exploitation of the class made possible by a preceding historical defeat (the collapse of the Russian Revolution). You'd have to ask yourself if those conditions exist today? Could such a system be imposed without engendering massive resistance from the working class?

Moreover, Stalinism is not exempt from the contradictions of capital accumulation. The stories of the various forms of economic inefficiency, etc. of "mature Stalnism" are well know. It collapsed in Russia and was deconstrtucted in China for a reason--it simply couldn't contain all the contradictions it was engendering--a massively overinflated state sector, lack of any real internal consumer market, etc.

Yea I'm not saying that it

Yea I'm not saying that it would work lol (as it obviously wouldn't). 

I'm asking, if the current model of austerity capitalism proved not to work, whether this would be something that the bourgeoisie in any country would consider trying? It wouldn't work, because I do think that capitalism has completely failed and there are few things I can think of which could "save" it. I suppose I am thinking of things like the bailouts of the banks, and the bailouts of other industries, and the support for renationalising things like the railways etc among some sections of the Labour Party (which they had to already do in the 1990s). 

I have read your article about Chavez and while his regime was obviously not state capitalism since there was quite a lot of private capital involved, the state did have a heavy role in the economy and plenty of things are/were nationalised. Obviously while the working class benefited from some aspects of the policies in others it did not such as Caracas now being one of the murder capitals of the world, state repression and that sort of stuff. I suppose I'm wondering whether that sort of thing could happen elsewhere, or whether someone could try and go further. 



I agree with the responses above from jk and sloth. Stalinism throughout the Russian bloc was a particularly inefficient form of state capitalism but the latter was also developed in the west in the 1930's in response to the economic crisis in the US, France and Britain and has been a permanent, general feature of capitalism ever since. It is also shown in the permanent expression of the war economy of all states - that is at a national level precedence is given to the military defence of national interests and the militarisation of society.

In the wake of the 2007/8 economic crisis, all the major banks of the USA and Britain were effectively nationalised. Similar applied to other countries.

Different definitions of state capitalism

Commiegirl, the ICC doesn't theorise state capitalism in the same way as (for example) the SWP. For the ICC it's a permanent dynamic in decadent capitalism; for example, in the 19th century, state expenditure was around 2-3% of economic activity in the UK. In the 20th century, it's generally been 30-40%. The state is the biggest single actor in a great many economies - perhaps every economy. It's true that it's rare for the state to control the economy to the extent that it directs more than 50% of the economy; but the massive growth of the state sector over the 20th century is not limited to countries where the state controls more than 50% of the economy directly. It's all 'state capitalism' - in Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (Ch III) Engels wrote:


"If the crises demonstrate the incapacity of the bourgeoisie for managing any longer modern productive forces, the transformation of the great establishments for production and distribution into joint-stock companies, trusts, and State property, show how unnecessary the bourgeoisie are for that purpose. All the social functions of the capitalist has no further social function than that of pocketing dividends, tearing off coupons, and gambling on the Stock Exchange, where the different capitalists despoil one another of their capital. At first, the capitalistic mode of production forces out the workers. Now, it forces out the capitalists, and reduces them, just as it reduced the workers, to the ranks of the surplus-population, although not immediately into those of the industrial reserve army.

But, the transformation — either into joint-stock companies and trusts, or into State-ownership — does not do away with the capitalistic nature of the productive forces. In the joint-stock companies and trusts, this is obvious. And the modern State, again, is only the organization that bourgeois society takes on in order to support the external conditions of the capitalist mode of production against the encroachments as well of the workers as of individual capitalists. The modern state, no matter what its form, is essentially a capitalist machine — the state of the capitalists, the ideal personification of the total national capital. The more it proceeds to the taking over of productive forces, the more does it actually become the national capitalist, the more citizens does it exploit. The workers remain wage-workers — proletarians. The capitalist relation is not done away with. It is, rather, brought to a head. But, brought to a head, it topples over. State-ownership of the productive forces is not the solution of the conflict, but concealed within it are the technical conditions that form the elements of that solution."


The state is the state of the capitalists - the personification of national capital. This tendency of increasing statisation of the economy, described in 1880 by Engels, became the norm in the 20th century. It doesn't just apply to those countries with a majority-nationalised economy.



This may sound stupid sorry

This may sound stupid sorry bu t I was going to ask how it could be a general feature of capitalism when the tendency now with the tories for example is to try and privatise and sell off everything they can?

But I suppose all these privatisations are still being led by the state and once they are privatised they will still be subsidised by the state, for example with the railway companies still attracting billions of pounds of subsidies and so on. And I suppose that private capital is like being "centralised" into larger and larger companies as like some of them go out of business, merge into each other or get bought by each other and so on. 


I don't think it is a stupid

I don't think it is a stupid question. And you've hit the nail on the head with the debacle of rail 'privatisation' - now receiving more funding from the Treasury in real terms what when it was state-owned.


Nationalisation of industry is a matter of policy, I'd argue. Some parties (sections of the bourgeoisie) are in favour; others are against. There is no unanimity among the bourgeoisie as to whether it's a good or bad idea. Some on the right seem to see see all state control as anathema; but on the other hand, I heard the other day for instance that the NHS is the largest empoloyer in Europe. The Tories are trying to sell it off, Labour wants to keep it. But this is just about different organisation, not different forms of capitalism. Under the Tories' health reorganisations the state still subcontracts to private companies (at the moment, private companies subcontract to the state of course).


State involvement in the economy is a matter of survival rather than policy. All parties agree that the state must intervene in the economy. The question for the bourgeois parties is how that is done.

Well I didnt hear of left

Well I didnt hear of left communism until the last year or so and Id been involved in politics for quite a while ... i imagine most people havent heard of it :( 

sorry wrong thread :( 

sorry wrong thread :( 

A version of state capitalism

A version of state capitalism theory is not alien to Trotskyism- they have 'their own' version, articulated by Tony Cliff and before that the Marxist-Humanist tendency ('post-Trotskyism'). In the Trotskyist version of 'state capitalism', it is a political choice to centralize national capital, to develop the productive forces with the state as owner and manager of all means of production and industrialize through an acute primitive accumulation, condensed into 5, 10, 20 years what took centuries in the advanced capitalist nations. In this version, the Stalinist bureaucracy becomes a 'new ruling class' a 'state capitalist class'. Unfortunately, this version of state capitalism theory gets projected onto the various left communist theories of state capitalism in debate. I think the degree of state intervention between all states has undergone a tendency toward equalization- neoliberalism itself is implemented by the state capitalist, modern bourgeois state, regardless of the nature of the ruling regime of particular nations (whether Socialist parties or Christian Democratic parties, extreme right or far left). The command economy of Stalinism had a peculiar historic function- it allowed peripheral or underdeveloped nations to accelerate the development of the productive forces in the context of capitalist decadence (inability for new nations to follow a path of development like that of England, Holland, Germany, etc.). Bukharin created the foundation for state capitalism theory between 1915-1920; documenting the tendency toward a growing public sector in the advanced capitalist nations, increasing state intervention in the economy; Engels wrote in Anti-Duehring that the highest development of the  capitalist state would see the place of individual capitalists taken by salaried state employees. State capitalism as an international phenomenon only makes sense as an outgrowth of monopoly capitalism- conditions of monopoly are born from highly advanced development of the productive apparatus, meaning greater and greater productivity, greater application of science to the productive process, greater innovation in the techniques of production, all creating a crisis of overproduction that requires massive intervention by the capitalist state to mitigate. I don't think the conditions that exist today suggest a return of command economies- it would appear that the social-economic apparatus developed under Stalinism in the early to mid 20th century have fulfilled their function. Conditions of underdevelopment do exist in pockets, sometimes within advanced capitalist nations. But on an international level, the productive forces are so overdeveloped that further industrialization would only exacerbate the crisis of overproduction, even if new nations take the place of existing 'workshop nations' and Special Economic Zones (like the recent bossnapping in China, triggered by rumors that the plant was to move to a SEZ in India at even lower wages).

On state capitalism

It's an important topic and not simple to understand. The first thing to get straight is that it doesn't just mean the state owning everything (as in the USSR), nor is it necessarily linked to nationalisation.

Here are a few historical aspects which help to make this clearer:

  1. The central bank is clearly a fundamental part of the capitalist state's ability to control the economy: just look at the history of "quantitative easing" (ie printing money) followed in the USA and the UK. We are so used to this that we simply take it for granted that any country has a central bank which is a fundamental part of the state - but it was not always so. The USA first central bank was established in 1791 for 20 years, at the end of which it was simply wound up. The next central bank  lasted from 1816 to 1833, then the US went without any kind of central bank for the next 40 years. The 1907 bank panic was halted not by the government but by a private conglomerate led by JP Morgan, and it was this that prompted the creation (at last!) of the Federal Reserve as "lender of last resort" (thanks to Wikipedia for all this by the way). The Bank of England is another interesting example: it was created in 1694 to handle the government's public debt: however, far from being a part of the state, it was owned by the private citizens who had loaned money to the crown.
  2. Militarism: in my view, the most important driving force behind Stalinism was not the construction of a "new" capitalism, but militarism. In fact, the "command economy" of the USSR looks very much the British economy 1939-45, perhaps as it might have looked had the war not ended for 20 years. The USSR, in order to compete with the militarily far more powerful USA, had to devote something in the region of 40% GNP to armaments. Then we have the Pentagon: during the 1950s-60s (I don't know about today), the output of the Pentagon in goods and services was greater than that of IBM, General Motors, and General Electric combined. And this is only a small part of the Pentagon's collosal, perhaps even dominating weight in the US economy.
  3. Social spending: because the capitalist economy has so many people "surplus to requirements", the state is forced to spend huge amounts of money on unemployment benefits and other social spending (although this is being cut, the sheer numbers of people out of work mean that even the miserable benefits they get cost a staggering amount of money). This is one reason that even Thatcher in Britain never managed to reduce the state's share of GDP by more than about 2%.

Hope that helps!

Thanks for this. I wanted to

Thanks for this. Yes that did really help :) Interesting what you say about the Soviet Union and militarism - I don't think they were the only ones though - and the huge spending on the defence industry today probably makes it look like peanuts. 


I wanted to ask what you thought the government was attempting to achieve with its reforms of the benefit system. Plainly according to many interpretations for the bourgeoisie (or a section of them anyway) an austerity programme is "necessary" for it to keep on to its huge profits. However, why do we see phenomenons like doctors being told not to write appeals for people on benefits, or the other abuses that the ATOS company have carried out by abusing terminally ill patients, etc. Is it only about privatisation or are they ultimately attempting to abolish benefits altogether - and if not what is it about in your opinion? What do the bourgeoisie hope to achieve by it? 

I'm pretty sure defence

I'm pretty sure defence spending as a proportion of GDP for the main powers is probably lower than it was in the 60s, probably the 80s too. I'm not so sure about the 3rd world though.

I'd also question the "huge profits". If profits were really that big (or as big as capitalism requires for accumulation), there wouldn't be a crisis.

The bourgeoisie would probably like to abolish benefits completely if they could get away with it. The UK debt mountain is over 5 times GDP - a pretty big mountain of fictitious capital to valorise - and every penny is needed to stop it from being devalued. Every time a greedy worker gets his broken tooth fixed at a discount on the NHS, a hedge fund manager kills a kitten.

However, there are several barriers to the complete abolition of benefits. Firstly, and probably most importantly, is the fear of social unrest. This is partly a fear of the working class but also worries about general social breakdown which  diminishes the prospects for capital materially (theft, riots, etc. smash up those lovely shops, lumpenisation reduces the capability of the workforce and so on) and ideologically (what kind of world is this, when we can't walk the streets at night?) which can threaten the system and their class rule.

Like democracy, some form of social provision is necessary to reinforce the idea that capitalism really is to the benefit of most of the people, most of the time. This is especially true in a time of crisis, when it starts to look like really rather a bad idea for more and more people ...

That's true. Do you think

That's true. Do you think they will try and abolish benefits completely? They seem to be heading in that direction. I was thinking that that the complete abolition of social provision by the state would lead to the growth of criminal gangs who people paid money to to "protect" them. There are some parts of the country where there is very little work or money and a lot of people make their living or supplant their income by selling weed. If benefits were abolished I think we'd see a huge growth in that. 

As you say, I think you see

As you say, I think you see that already on the more impoverished estates. Lots of kids grow up in an environment where the best career option is to become a drug dealer.

I'm not sure what you mean by criminal gangs offering protection - do you mean in terms of somehow replacing the police? I doubt criminal gangs (which are basically capitalist themselves) would have any more interest in providing social services than the bourgeoisie proper.

I doubt they'll ever be in a position formally abolish benefits, for the reasons I outlined above. I think it'll be more of a case of them being ground down to the point where they really are worth nothing. Of course, if they were able to inflict a historic defeat on the working class that completely destroyed its capacity to struggle, that would be another story ... but then in such a nightmare scenario I suspect the end of the benefits system would be the least of our problems.

I mean in terms of providing

I mean in terms of providing social provisions and somehow replacing the police (as they have done in some parts of the world already). The state is basically just another gang in much of the world where there is no social provision and nothing in the way of a social security system to speak of and if social provisions were completely destroyed then I reckon we'd see that happen here. 

why do you think a company

why do you think a company like ATOS exists by the way? I am asking because I am quite confused, because even from capitalist logic, it seems to make no sense, and only makes sense on an ideological level. The costs of implementing a new draconian welfare system seem to be far higher than the "savings" made even if you accept the viewpoint of the bourgeoisie that making these cuts in the social wage is the only way to save their system. 

Would you see it as an example of the tendency towards state capitalism - ie the tendency of the state to participate in the economy even while privatisations are going on (directed by the state)? Or is it purely ideological, the idea that we should all have to work until we drop? 

the state and ideology

In general, the state is involved heavily in ideological campaigns and it's certainly at the forefront in the whole onslaught against scroungers and skivers who need their benefits cut, whether through open statements by politicians, poster campaigns like the present hideous 'illegal immigrant poster vans' which has been so gross a number of politicians have rejected it, or less directly through links with the press and media. 

There was always a dual function with privatisations and 'tendering': economic, e.g. cutting out uncompetitive dead wood state enterprises and jacking up competitive and cost-cutting policies at every level of the economy; social-ideological, especially as a means to divert workers' anger from the state boss (a danger clearly displayed in the mass uprisings in the eastern bloc and 'third world' where the state was often perceived as the enemy) and disperse their reaction by hiding the central role still being played in the state in the attacks on their living standards. The leftists' anti-privatisation campaigns are a very important adjunct to this ideological attack. 

A question

I have quite a formed belief on the question of the nature of the Soviet state but I feel interest in arguments of opponents.

My question to users is the following: you simply declare that countries of the Soviet bloc were "state capitalist" but I didn't find arguments for this statement - so what's your arguments?

Some answers

Capitalism is a mode of production which is characterised by generalised commodity production and wage labour. Socialism (a synonym for communism) is a mode of production characterised by a worldwide classless communal society in which the state does not exist. As the USSR was a state rather than the whole planet, and had a working class, that was paid to produce commodities that were traded in the internal and on the world markets, it was not 'socialism'. In the modern industrial era the only alternative to socialism is capitalism (it wasn't feudalism, it wasn't an ancient slave economy, because these are not historically-realisable organisational forms now). Only capitalism and socialism are on the agenda, and as the economy of the Soviet Union (and the Eastern Bloc sountries, and China, and Cuba) had none of the pre-requisites of socialism and all of the pre-requisites of capitalism, it is capitalism. See the quote from Socialism: Utopian and Scientific about how state control is capitalist.

Historically, Lenin called the economy of the Soviet Republic state capitalism, and there's no real reason not continue to do so. He thought it was a bridge towards a socialist society (in which he was wrong, because you can't have a worldwide post-capitalist society existing in one country surrounded by hostile capitalist states, even in embryo) but that's beside the point. He rightly identified it as state capitalism and nothing fundamental changed in class relations over the peoriod of the Soviet Union. By 1921 the revolutionary wave in Russia was definitely on the defensive and worldwide we can see with hindsight that the revolution had passed its peak - though the working class continued to sporadically struggle for some time to come. So if Russia was state capitalist by 1921 and did not change its class character after 1921, it was state capitalist after 1921.

Do you have any arguments that it isn't 'state capitalist'? You could I suppose just call it 'capitalist'. Or do you think it was something else? If so, what are your arguments?


[quote=slothjabber]. Socialism (a synonym for communism) is a mode of production characterised by a worldwide classless communal society in which the state does not exist.[/quote]

No you are not correct. According to Marx, "Between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat." This transition period when the state and classes still exist is usually called socialism (or the first phase of communism.Ie the existance of state and classesdoes not prove the existance of capitalism.

[quote=slothjabber] Lenin called the economy of the Soviet Republic state capitalism, and there's no real reason not continue to do so...By 1921 the revolutionary wave in Russia was definitely on the defensive and worldwide we can see with hindsight that the revolution had passed its peak... So if Russia was state capitalist by 1921 and did not change its class character after 1921, it was state capitalist after 1921.[/quote]

Your reference to Lenin's words is inappropriate.It was said in 1921 and no one can assert that Russian social economic basis was the same during the whole period of 1921-1991.

Really in 1921the NEP was introdused and this was "the restoration of capitalism to a large extentIt was a retreat of the revolution but the retreat ended in 1929 when the “offensive of socialism along the whole front” was declared and the revolution entered into a fully socialist phase.As a result the urban and rural bourgeoisie was expropriated,private production completely disappeared, the marked economy was replaced by the planned.In the middle of 1930s was formed afundamentally different social economic basis.

Engels in "The principles of Communism" wrote:

"Above all, it will have to take the control of industry and of all branches of production out of the hands of mutually competing individuals, and instead institute a system in which all these branches of production are operated by society as a whole – that is, for the common account, according to a common plan, and with the participation of all members of society. "

All these measures were carried out in the USSR in 1930 that's why we can talk about socialism in the USSR.

in my oponion socialism can

in my oponion socialism can not built on one countery so this transion priod should be considered in relation to the world   revolution 

Definitions of socialism

Most people here are familiar with Lanin's use of 'socialism' to mean the first phase of communist society. This is not a distinction Marx ever made. But, either way, socialism is a classless communal society, because it is communist. Even if, like Lenin, you think it had not yet become a society of abundance, it is still a classless and communal (and worldwide) society, because it the first phase of communism.

I love that quote from the Gotha Programme. It is the first thing I show to Stalinists who insist that the USSR was socialist, followed by the part of Socialism: Utopian and Scientific where Engels talks about how, in the modern state, state control of industry does not any way change the capitalist relationships at work. However, I don't know how quotes work in the new forum so I'll just let you refer to your posting of it.

The revolution starts in a capitalist society. The working class takes political and economic power. What mode of production exists then? Well, the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat so it is a class society. It has a proletariat in it, but one class can't be identical with the whole. You can hve no classes, or two or more classes, but you can't just have one. It is revolutionary, so there must be a dispossessed class (else who was the revolution against?) so at the very least there must be a bourgeoisie as well as a proletariat. There are also artisans and peasants though these are not very significant in historical terms, they either gravitate towards the workers or to the bourgeoisie, because only these classes have any perspective for the future. Furthermore, the revolutionary dictatorship is a dictatorship, the rule of one group over others. It is the rule of the working class over the rest of society, while it organises the economy, integrates everyone into production, and in the process negates both capitalist property (by collectivisation) and itself (in fact the whole class system) by making everyone a worker, to the point where the working 'class' (part of the whole) is identical with 'the people' (when everyone is a worker, there is no separate 'working class' as a subset of the population).

So, the revolutionary dictatorship begins in capitalism, and only ends when there are no more classes. When there are no more classes, we will have reached communist society. At least, the beginning of it -  'socialism' in Lenin's definition, but not in Marx's, who called it the 'first stage of communist society'. So the revolutioary dictatorship of the proletariat precedes the creation of a communist society, in all its phases. The revolutionary dictatorship is what the proletariat uses to win the revolution, the world civil war. 

It is only when capitalism has been defeated that the real work of creating a socialist (or communist) society can begin. To be sure even in the revolutionary dictatorship measures can be taken to help the working clss through the hardship, but it will be hardship because we will be in the middle of a world civil war. But if we reject socialism in one country, then, the revolution must be worldwide. It will be a struggle and in that time it will not be possible to create a society of abundance. Until the war is over and control over the world and its resources - until all property is collectivised, and everyone is intergrated into both production and decision-making, there is no transcendence of capitalism, no classless communal society.

The revolutionary dictatorship begins in capitalism, and only ends with the creation of a classless society. It ends with the end of capitalism, the end of classes, the end of the world civil war. It is not a mode of production in its own right, it's more like leaving a room by going through a door. You stand up, you walk towards the door,  but until you go through you are still in the room you were. 

So, the USSR wasn't even 'socialist' by Lenin's definition, let alone by Marx's use of the word, as 'socialism' can only be a classless society without property, and this can only be worldwide. The revolutionary dictatorship can only be a feature of capitalism. And even if one argues that the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat existed in the Soviet Republic (I would say it did, in increasingly attenuated form, until 1921) it didn't ever either cease to be part of the capitalist world economy, or cease to have a capitalist internal economy - though some limited 'socialist measures' did take place.

In short, no, not any kind of socialism.

To slothjabber

You say: "Most people here are familiar with Lanin's use of 'socialism' to mean the first phase of communist society. This is not a distinction Marx ever made."

It is really not Marx's definition but it is not anti-Marxist. I don't see the reason why we should reject it if the majority of communists use it.

You say: " is still a classless and communal (and worldwide) society, because it the first phase of communism."

As at the first stage class dictatorship still exist it is not classless.

You say: "The revolutionary dictatorship can only be a feature of capitalism."

That's not a Marxist point of view. Any social economic basis corresponds to a certain superstructure: a feudal basis to a dictatorship of feudals, capitalist to a dictatorsip of capitalists,etc. So the proletarian dictatorship corresponds only to socialism,( or to the transitional period,or to the first phase of communism - no matter how you call it).

Let's summ up: we can call the Soviet society transitional, we can call it socialist or the society of the first phase of communism, but there is no any reason to call it capitalist


the key point is revolution

the key point is revolution defeated and dictatorship of proletariat becom a dictatoship of party 

Do words have meaning?

Capitalism is a class society. Socialism is not a class society. The (brief) revolutionary dictatorship of the proleatariat in the Soviet Republic was a class society. Is it more like capitalism or more like socialism?

Capitalism is a society with states. Socialism is a system without states. The Soviet Republic was a state. Is it more like capitalism or more like socialism?

It has never been a Marxist proposition that a certain base corresponds to a certain superstructure. The superstructure can take different forms (here a monarcy, there a republic, then a dictatorship... all capitalist). What the superstructure cannot do is exist without a base that can create it. This is not the same as your proposition at all.

Mizar, I'm afraid you have your categories mixed up and this is Lenin's fault. For Marx, the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat precedes 'socialism' or 'communism' (they are the same thing). This is the problem with Lenin's misuse of Marx's terms - if you apply Lenin's words to what Marx says you end up with nonsense like 'the first stage of communism is called socialism and is the same as the revolutionary dictatorship'. This is gibberish.

Marx's scema (in so far as he had one) is:

Capitalist state > revolution > revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat established to win world civil war > succeful outcome leading to first stage of communist society, when a free-access society is not possible because of the ravages of war > a free access society or the 'higher stage' of communism.

Communism does not begin until there are no more classes. There are classes under the revolutionary dictatorship of the proeltariat, so it is not communism. 

How can the working class institute a classless society in the middle of a world war? The idea is nonsensical.

off the cuff remark

If one holds in an analytical sense (not just political/historical) that capitalism existed in the USSR (let's take after 1930), then it would be obligatory to eloborate on this: for example what was the (evolution) of the rate of profit then?

To slothjabber

You wrote: "Mizar, I'm afraid you have your categories mixed up.."

No,I'm afraid it's you became too enmeshed in terms:

You wrote: "It has never been a Marxist proposition that a certain base corresponds to a certain superstructure. The superstructure can take different forms (here a monarcy, there a republic, then a dictatorship... all capitalist)."

You have mixed up form with content. The content of any superstructure is a dictatorship of a certain class wich can be in a form republic,monarchy, etc.

When the basis comes into antagonism with the superstructure the revolution starts, at all other times they certainly dovetail into one another.

You wrote: "Capitalism is a class society. Socialism is not a class society. The (brief) revolutionary dictatorship of the proleatariat in the Soviet Republic was a class society. Is it more like capitalism or more like socialism?

Capitalism is a society with states. Socialism is a system without states. The Soviet Republic was a state. Is it more like capitalism or more like socialism?"

I have noticed that the favorite proof used here is an analogy. That is, if they find certain common features of the USSR and of capitalist countries, then they say that the USSR was capitalist. But in this way one can  "prove" the existance of  any social system in the USSR:

 "Feudalism is a class society.The revolutionary dictatorship of the proleatariat in the Soviet Republic was a class society. Is it more like feudalism or more like socialism?

Feudalism is a society with states.  The Soviet Republic was a state. Is it more like feudalism or more like socialism?"

Talking about some similarities they ignore fundamental differences in the mode of production, ie they ignore the social basis of the formation.

 I guess they also have not understood Marxist theory of transition period. Marx talked about the period "between capitalist and communist society" ,ie the transition society is already not capitalist.If in the USSR there was no communism yet, it does not mean that capitalism remained there.
 So I don't see serious arguments for state capitalist nature of the USSR.

any system but socialism

Sure, it is only by analogy. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it is probably a duck. OK it may be a panda that is good at disguise, but it is probably a duck.

What we can say is, if it doesn't have a powercord and it doesn't heat porrige, it probably isn't a microwave oven.

As the Soviet Union was a state with a class system, it cannot have been 'socialist society', a society without a class system and without a state. A thing is not its opposite: socialist society is the opposite of the Soviet Union, and therefore the Soviet Union was not 'socialist society'.

You can if you wish invent new types of society to try to prove that there is something that comes between capitalist and socialist societies - but if you do you have to abandon Marx. That may be no bad thing, Marx could be wrong, there may be more to human development than ducks and microwave ovens, maybe there really are pandas that are good a disguise, but you're not demonstrating that, you're just claiming that something that looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, doesn't have a powercord and can't heat porrige really is a microwave oven, all appearences to the contrary.

The fact that there was no

The fact that there was no the higher stage of communism does not mean that there was no the first stage of communism when classes and the state still exist.You don’t want to call this stage socialism - OK, let’s call it transition, I don’t mind. But where have you found capitalism at this stage?

Capitalism or transitional society?

The fact that it was not the higher stage of communism does not mean that there was some kind of first stage of communism either.
Classes still exist in both cases, and capitalist functioning rules still exist at different levels. But there are crucial differences between capitalism and this possible transition society. The key difference is the tendency towards abolishment of classes. It is not a merely formal difference and it takes into account:
-The international (not merely national) balance of forces between classes, and development of working class consciousness.
-The political power of the working class and the total and permanent control of the means of social production by the working class.
-Economically the tendency towards the material (and 'spiritual', to be more explicative) abolishment of the law of value. And the tendency towards the satisfaction of the same needs with less social work.

I think that you are failing to see the main phenomena in this respect, which is a global bourgeoisie counterrevolution.
This view also penetrated plenty of revolutionaries at that time because of the difficulty of accepting that the revolution was isolated and had failed, and kept seeing ilusive 'proletarian characteristics' which could as well be seen in modern democratic states.
I recommend the ICC series about 'The period of transition from capitalism to communism'.


It seems there is still a

It seems there is still a problem of explaining how a capitalist society can 'transition" to something non-capitalist. That defies the very logic of capital as a social relation that Marx described. The obvious answer is that in a transitional society there is something different politically: the absence of a state (or a state in the traditional meaning of the concept, but that would need to be elucidated)?, the consciousness of the proletariat?, but that would also call the base/superstructure relationship into question. However, maybe that is exactly the point--the revolutionary processes reverses that relationship?

building a bridge

The transitional society from capitalism to communism will have various features. We will be able to identify them. However, it will be clearest what they will have been from the point of socialist society. When we get there, we will know what worked. We are not there. We don't precisely what will happen on the journey.

I use the metaphor of building a bridge to the future. We start here (on one bank of a river) and attempt to build a big support structure for our bridge. Maybe it's a big pile of rock. It doesn't cross the river, we haven't built that part of the bridge yet. But we do have a big pile of rocks on this side of the river. 

Then, all the workers who we expect to come and help us get murdererd by the Freikorps on the orders of Noske (for example).

What we are left with is the support of a non-existent bridge. What do we do?

I'd suggest what we don't do is hang a red flag on it and call it a bridge.

The Soviet Union was not a 'transitional society'. It transitioned from capitalism to capitalism via capitalism. That isn't a transition, it's just redecorating.

The revolution failed. It failed because what we are talking about is not 'the Russian Revolution' but the world revolution - the revolution of which the events in Russia were only a part. In Berlin, Budapest, Seattle, Shanghai, Glasgow and many other places, the working class wasn't strong enough to break the powers of capitalism and the state. The counter-revolution won. It engulfed Russia as well, and destroyed the soviets, the real expressions of working class revolution. In Russia I think the revolution was over by 1921. If the world revolution had rescued it, things could have been saved but it was not to be. The last undefeated workers (the ICC says this was the Chinese working class who were massacred in the Shanghai Commune in 1927; I hold out for the Spanish wokers a decade later, who had not gone through the First World War and had not been tied so firmly to the state as other workers in Europe - but this is a question of details rather than fundemantals) were butchered and repressed by the victorious capitalist powers. The revolution was over, and counter-revolution reigned in Russia and without.

You ask 'where is the capitalism'? Engels in 1880 wrote about how state ownership of the economy does not change the capitalist relation. Joint stock corporations (whwere the manager is no longer the 'owner' of the enterprise) do not change the capitalist relation. A working class working for wages to make commodities for sale in internal or external markets is capitalism. The boss (owner, manager, minister, it makes no difference) is still the boss.

Capitalism is a class system, and it has states. Socialism does not have a class system or states. The Soviet Union was a state, with a class system. If it wasn't capitalism (and with the best will in the world, it wasn't feudalism or antique slavery either), can you tell me what other economic system the Soviet Union might have invented? I don't mind if you depart from Marx in your analysis, but I am a Marxist, so I'm not going to take the invention of new categories lightly.

what economic system the Soviet Union might have invented

Between labor and capital, there is a long lasting global stalemate. Should this stalemate not result in longer lasting economies which are somehow inbetween?

There are two sorts of mixed economies: (a) a state sector functioning in an environment of dominant simple commodity production; (b) a state sector functioning in an environment of dominant capitalist production. The share of the value added by state sector workers on the one hand, and of the value added by commodity producers, or by wage-earning workers of capitalist enterprises, on the other hand in the total value production of an economy may vary in both cases between 0:100 and 100:0.

Examples of (a) are: Ottoman Empire, Soviet union, India after independence.
Examples of (b) are many (or all?) countries today.

"State sector" is perhaps a new category?

slothjabber wrote:

slothjabber wrote:

The Soviet Union was not a 'transitional society'. It transitioned from capitalism to capitalism via capitalism....

slothjabber, you can't convince me that in 1917 Russia transitioned from capitalism to capitalism and in 1991 it transitioned from capitalism to capitalism.You can't convice me that there is no principal difference between Russian empire, NEP Russia, the USSR in 1936-1990 and post-1991 Russia.

slothjabber wrote:

Capitalism is a class system, and it has states. Socialism does not have a class system or states. The Soviet Union was a state, with a class system.

How do you know it wasn't feudal? Feudalism is also a class system and it has a state. Primitive analogies prove nothing,you see.

You should know more characteristics of capitalism if you are really a Marxist.Show me them in the USSR.


How could Russia have been feudal?

Capitalism was introduced into Russia around 1700 when Peter the Great invited Dutch and other West-European capitalists to establish businesses there. Capitalisation continued to develop, mostly under state and foreign (as time went on, particularly British, French and Belgian but also German, Dutch, Swedish etc) control, for the next two centuries; after the mid-1800s, it gathered pace. Serfdom (the formal basis of the feudal structure) was abolished in 1861. As a Marist I don't think the superstructure overleaps the base - superstructural changes reflect changes in the economic organisation and not  substantially the other way around, so the legal end of serfdom follows the actual end of feudalism.

By 1913, Russia was the world's 5th biggest economy with some of the largest and newest factories in the world (famously by 1917 the Putilov Works was the world's largest factory with 40,000 workers making armaments for the war effort). Coal and steel, and heavy engineering, were particularly important sectors. There were 70,000km of railways, and industry accounted for 32% of Russia's GDP. There were several million industrial workers - exact figures are hard to come by but approximately 2.5 million in large industries and 4.5 million more in small industries not under the purview of the Factory Inspectorate. There were also around 6 million workers (not peasants) engaged in agricultural labour. The proletariat was around 13-15 million in total. The idea that there could be a revolution of millions of urban and rural proletarians against feudalism is one that I think is bizarre.

The characteristic of capitalism is that it is dominated by wage labour and commodity production. These both exist in earlier economic forms such as the waged-labour workshops of antique slave states or medieval cities, but it is the domination of these forms that is important. When wage labour replaces bonded labour or small-proprieter production (artisans or peasants) then an economy has reached an industrial-capitalist stage. All of these things happened in Russia before the First World War. Russia, going into the war, was no more a feudal power than Germany or Britain. It was capitalist.

It remained capitalist during the period of the Soviet Union. Wage labour and commodity production continued to be the dominant mode of the extraction of labour power, though for sure there were experiments with other forms of extraction. The superstructural questions of who 'owned' the enterprises do not change the fact that workers went to work, the products of their labour were taken away from them, and they were given tokens with which to buy back social wealth. This is capitalism pure and simple. Engels (Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, 1880) talks about how neither state control nor the absentee owners of joint-stock companies change the capitalist relation - it is still based on workers, giving their labour power in enterprises, and being paid. This is capitalism par excellence and this relationship didn't change fundamentally between 1913 and 1992.

The analysis of the Marxist left of the Second International (as well as some other socialist groups that had left the International) was that by the early 20th century the developments of world capitalism were such that the bourgeoisie no longer had a progressive social role. You may not agree with this, perhaps you believe there were (or are) progressive bourgeois movements, but it was the view of Lenin, Luxemburg, Trotsky and others that capitalism's mission to create the world market and a world proletariat, to complete industrial development including transport and communications, was complete by the early 20th century. Capitalism had ceased to be a revolutionary force (as it was against feudalism) and had become a reactionary force (against the rising proletariat). This could not be the case if the world's 5th largest economy was still feudal. If this were true then the Mensheviks would have been right and it would be the task of socialists to (critically?) support this progressive bourgeoisie, whether Kerensky's liberal friends or maybe even progressive German imperialism, I don't know, I'm not an expert in inventing fake bourgeois liberators.

So, no, not feudalism. If you can demonstrate that Russia was not capitalist (if you can prove the economy wasn't based on the extraction of surplus labour through paying workers to produce commodities), then I'd be very interested.

In my opinion, the Soviet

In my opinion, the Soviet Union was moving  towards communism and it made significant strides on this way. We known that on the way to communism it is necessary to abolish private property, to organize planned production and consumption on a society scale . These measures were largely fulfilled . Just because of  this  we can talk about socialism in the USSR. "But the scientific distinction between socialism and communism is clear. What is usually called socialism was termed by Marx the “first”, or lower, phase of communist society. Insofar as the means of production becomes common property, the word “communism” is also applicable here, providing we do not forget that this is not complete communism." - Lenin .

You say the USSR was state capitalist. But  there is no capitalism,state  or non-state, that could eliminate private property, and hence the isolation of individual producers, competition, anarchy of production, crises, unemployment and all other "beauties" of capitalism.

We know that the Soviet Union destroyed unemployment, created the world's best free health care and education that covered the whole of society. To agree that the USSR was state capitalist is to agree that capitalism is possible without competition, crises, unemployment and poverty, ie to reject communist views.

If the USSR was not socialist, then there was no socialist revolution but " the transition from capitalism to capitalism". As a result of "the transition from capitalism to capitalism"  in the late 1930's was completely eliminated private industry and the collictivisation was fulfilled. In the Report to the 18 Congress Stalin said: "The collective now combine 18 million 800 thousand peasant households, ie, 93.5 percent of peasant households." Where and when capitalism ever led to such results? A nice non-socialist revolution, indeed,as a result of which was expropriated by the first the large and then the petty bourgeoisie (mainly peasants)! How could the bourgeois power allow such expropriation? Is not this expropriation an act of the dictatorship of the proletariat and a direct result of the socialist revolution?

They say: "Nationalisation of industry takes plase in capitalist states too" beleaving that it is a good argument against socialism in the USSR.Yeah, like that's going to help! That sort of “nationalisation” has nothing in common with the EXPROPRIATIONAL type of nationalisation carried out AGAINST the interests of the bourgeois, ie under its VERY STRONG RESISTANCE as it happened in Russia, Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, etc. And besides, capitalism never allow  FULL nationalisation. All countries that can be described as state-capitalist — Argentina under Peron, Egypt under Nasser,  South Korea, Germany under Hitler, and Italy under Mussolini — none of them had expropriational full nationalisation.

As a result of the socialist phase of revolution in 1929-1936 a fundamentally new economic system appeared. Lenin liked to compare socialism with a single big factory. Was the USSR such a factory? In 1939 Stalin said about the total elimination of private industry. By this time, collective farms covered 93.5 percent of peasant households. All this economy functioned on a single plan. Collective farms, as well as state-owned enterprises, got a state plan on the main range of products. Marx wrote in " The Capital":"Consumer goods are generally goods just because they are products of independent of each other private works. "At the end of 1930s in the USSR there were no no private works and no completely isolated producers.Soviet Union has really became a single factory. I can refer even to anti-Soviet wrighter Tony Cliff :"Hence if one examines the relations within the Russian economy, abstracting them from their relations with the world economy, one is bound to conclude that the source of the law of value, as the motor and regulator of production, is not to be found in it. In essence, the laws prevailing in the relations between the enterprises and between the labourers and the employer-state would be no different if Russia were one big factory managed directly from one centre, and if all the labourers received the goods they consumed directly, in kind."  And if it was so, there was no any market, any commodity-money relations.

Let's look how classics saw a new social order.Engels in "The principles of Communism" wrote:

"Above all, it will have to take the control of industry and of all branches of production out of the hands of mutually competing individuals, and instead institute a system in which all these branches of production are operated by society as a whole – that is, for the common account, according to a common plan, and with the participation of all members of society. "

All these measures were carried out in the USSR.

Engels wrote that the value is just a product "produced by a private person at a private expense. ". In the USSR there was no private production at private expense. The Soviet national economy worked according a single plan. The goal was to meet the needs.

Under capitalism the manufactured product is a private property of a producer In the USSR enterprises did not own their products, they did not decide how much to produce, whom and how to sell it. The state could not sell anything within the country, since there was no one to sell. Everything belonged to the state, all citizens were workers of the state.

"In the first place, means of production are not "sold" to any purchaser, they are not "sold" even to collective farms; they are only allocated by the state to its enterprises. In the second place, when transferring means of production to any enterprise, their owner - the state - does not at all lose the ownership of them; on the contrary, it retains it fully. In the third place, directors of enterprises who receive means of production from the Soviet state, far from becoming their owners, are deemed to be the agents of the state in the utilization of the means of production in accordance with the plans established by the state." ( Stalin.

The presence of money-commodity relations is inpossible without the presence of separate  independent producers. But if the whole economy is ruled by the state, if all citizens are workers of the state, where is the place for them? And if there is no money-commodity relations there is no capitalism.

Clear,one would think: the Soviet reality had nothing to do with capitalism.

Is Socialism in One Country possible?

How was property eliminated? How was class abolished?

Socialism will be a world society. What happened in Russia was limited to one country. Property (private or otherwise) was not abolished. Class was not abolished. The measures taken out in the Soviet Republic were not capable of abolishing class, property and the state because they were limited to one country. When Engels says that we need to expropriate capitalists he doesn't say 'and we only need to do that in one place and that will be OK'. The failure of the revolution was the failure to spread to the rest of the world. When that failed the revolution in Russia failed. It was unable to reach the point where socialism (a worldwide society) was possible. How can there be any question that it was anything other than capitalism? There is no autarchic mode of production that a beleagured and failed state can adopt. Russia was a capitalist country before the revolution, and despite expropriation of the capitalists in 1917 it could not do anything other than remain capitalist. 

What happened in the Soviet Republic was that property was re-organised. In Socialism: Utopian and Scientific Engels discusses this and declares that different ways of organising property do not change capitalist relations. Capitalism doesn't change by expropriating capitalists, if there is now state-owned property rather than privately-owned property in one place. You dismiss the example of the western countries with state-owned businesses but this is disingenuous. It is obvious that state-owned enterprises are still capitalist in the west. Why is it so difficut to see that state-owned enterprises in te east were no different to state-owned enterprises in the west? Workers being paid to produce commodities - this is the defining feature of capitalism.

What was occurring in 1936 is utterly irrelevant. The revolution had been defeated (we can see with hindsight) by 1921. And calling on Tony Cliff doesn't help, even given that the slogan of his organisation was 'Neither Washington nor Moscow but International Socialism' (a fine enough thing to say were it true) the SWP took a pro-Moscow side in every iperialist conflict from the 1970s onwards - so, no, he became an apologist for Stalinism and supporter of the Soviet Union as most Trotskyists do, arguing as you do that there is something progressive about state control of the economy.

Without a world revolution there is no socialism. There cannot be socialism because socialism is a sytem that can only exist on a worldwide basis. Class cannot be abolished locally as it is something that exists in a worldwide context. The state cannot be abolished locally as it something that exists in relation not only tpo the 'internal' population but to other external states. Property is not something that can be collectivised in one area and declared to have been abolised because the relationship to other areas demonstrates that the 'abolition' of propery through state control is an illusion. 

If the world revolution had succeeded, then the steps taken in Russia would have laid the basis for the transformation to socialism, but it did not. Therefore, they laid the basis for nothing. They remained policies to try to mitigate capitalism under (very briefly) the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat and then the dictatorial rule of the party which acted as the preservers of Russian national capital. it was (state) capitalism. How could it be anything else?


The Russian revolution of

The Russian revolution of 1917 was a genuine workers revolution where the working class in alliance with the rural workers did take political power. The problem however was that due to the devastated state of the Russian economy following the first imperialist world war they could only hold that power for a short period of time. I think it was Engels who argued that a class that comes to political power when the material conditions are not ripe to enable that class to carry out its historic task will then be forced by force of circumstances to carry out an alien’s class objectives. In the case of Russia that task was building the material base for ensuring that society could produce all the material basis for plenty.


I would also argue that the introduction of the New Economic Policy was the time when state capitalism was introduced and that from that period onwards what we see is a gradual consolidation of the state capitalist regime with all the horrendous brutalities that came with this introduction. The Trotskyist idea of degenerated workers state simply does not hold up and in some cases is a refusal to face reality rather it’s a form of retreat into seeing the state, in whatever form, as the builder of socialism/communism rather than seeing communism as the clear perspective of a working class building a society free from all forms of exploitation and oppression.


On the question of whether the capitalist class could build a form of Stalinism to ensure their survival as a dominant class. Of course, this is possible and, in the instance, where the consequences of capitalist production such as intensity and deepening of poverty, precarious employment, disintegration of the so-called welfare safety net i.e. NHS, education, elderly care provision and a replacement by poorly resourced private providers, wars, environmental catastrophes etc then the various capitalist fraction of the various national capitalist states would try to go down this path. The problem for them is that the contradictions and the consequences of the system they run cannot be dissolved and that the worrying outcome will be the mutual destruction of all contending classes. That to me is the inevitable outcome if the working class globally can not both develop a clear Marxist consciousness of capitalism and is unable to build its own forms of struggle that is workers councils on a global scale.



In my opinion, the Soviet Union was moving  towards communism and it made significant strides on this way. We known that on the way to communism it is necessary to abolish private property, to organize planned production and consumption on a society scale . These measures were largely fulfilled .

in Marx view ,what distanguishes capital production of per-capital goods is mere sale of labor ,the purchese and sale of this force to generate surplus value



In my opinion, the Soviet Union was moving  towards communism and it made significant strides on this way. We known that on the way to communism it is necessary to abolish private property, to organize planned production and consumption on a society scale . These measures were largely fulfilled .

in Marx view ,what distanguishes capital production of per-capital goods is mere sale of labor ,the purchese and sale of this force to generate surplus value

dave63 wrote:

dave63 wrote:

I would also argue that the introduction of the New Economic Policy was the time when state capitalism was introduced

If the NEP was a period of "state capitalism" then this "state capitalism" finished along with the NEP in 1929. So where is the logic when you assert that the USSR was capitalist from the begining to the end ?

The denial of socialism in the USSR is inevitably accompanied by the denial of facts, reality, logic, common sense and Marxism in general. I have tried to focus your  attention  on the fact the USSR in 1930s became a single factory for a reason that you have not understood:  this "factory" could not already work in a capitalist way: how can you get the surplus value, if the only buyers in the state are the state's workers and employees? Imagine the capitalist who sells its products only to employees of his own concern.How much will he get money? As much as he paid them for their labor,not a penny more. The Soviet system made the capitalist exploatation impossible.

Pre-1914 Russia

Over 80% of the population worked on an agricultural subsistence basis.
About 1914, only one third of total output came from manufacturing, mining and construction combined.
Factory production was concentrated within a few spots of the country.
Most of the industrial workers worked in state-owned industries.
Industrial growth was state-driven, heavily depended on grain production and concentrated on oil, iron, steel, railways, armament and uniforms. The finance sector was in the hand of a state-bank.
Putilov works mainly produced for the government (railway and weapons).

Russia was on the way into a capitalism with a state sector.

There is no either/or between different types of economy. All real economies are somehow mixed. Terms like "feudalism", "capitalism", "socialism" are ideal-typical constructions serving for orientation.

State sector and realization problem

dave63 wrote:
Imagine the capitalist who sells its products only to employees of his own concern.How much will he get money? As much as he paid them for their labor, not a penny more.

This also applies to pure capitalist systems:
If there only are capitalists who sell there products only to employees of their own concern. How much will they get money? As much as they paid them for their labor, not a penny more.

Pure capitalist systems cannot work.
Capitalist systems need a state sector, a non-capitalist production, or separated capitalist systems, capable to realize their surplus value.

A capitalist system realizing the surplus value of another capitalist system without compensation dies, as itself has the same problem. A capitalist system realizing the surplus value of another capitalist system with compensation from the other capitalist system would be of no help for the other capitalist system.

But for state sectors the quantitative difference (money - commodity - more money) is not substantial. They donate surplus labor of the state-workers to the capitalist part of the econonomy, which can solve the above problem, or use the surplus labor themselves for industrialization as in Russia and later in the USSR.

The term "state capitalism" is misleading. To understand modern capitalist systems and their problems it is essential to make a distinction between capitalism and state sector. When making this distinction it will be impossible to not see a principal difference between the USSR economic system and eg. the US economic system. From this follows that the USSR was socialistic only if a rigid, non-realistic, idealistic either/or is applied.

Once again: how can a single

Once again: how can a single capitalist make a profit if the profit can be realized only in competition and only in exchange? Therefore, in order to make a profit the “state capitalist”  Soviet Union should have  to realize all its production in the world market. However, there was nothing of the kind. The Soviet Union realized in the world market  only 2-3% of products manufactured in the USSR.

Mizar, the USSR capital wasn

Mizar, the USSR capital wasn't "the only capitalist", there were plenty of capitalists in the world. Capitalism is a global mode of production, not a policy to be implemented or abolished on a national basis.

I don't know where that 3% statistic comes from, but the USSR exported millions of dollars in weapons, to put just one example.

Comunero, what is your

Comunero, what is your statistic? Are you going to prove that the USSR exported the most part of its production? And who was the owner of that profit?

Export surpluses

Relevant are the export surpluses, ie. netto value inflow, not exports as such.

If economic data show that the USSR didn't have relevant export surpluses and didn't generate relevant value inflow from domestic agricultural simple commodity production, this would indicate that the USSR was not predominantly a capitalist system, because under such circumstances a capitalist system would not be capable of capital accumulation (according to R. Luxemburg). [The word "relevant" indicates soft limits open to interpretation.] Economic growth in the USSR then could be explained by non-capitalist modes of production (eg. simple commodity production as well as state production on wage basis can generate economic growth without necessity of value inflow, but not as fast as capitalism).

It's time to really analyze this stuff and to get rid of idealistic approaches that function as follows: (a) A term is assigned to an economy/society, because some characteristics of the economy/society match to this term. (b) Then, from the meaning of this term the main characteristics of the economy/society are deduced, whereby  characteristics not matching the term are played down, or simply ignored. (c) From this deduction, lessons for our actions today are drawn.

A good question to start with, that can be answered by analyzing economic data, would be: How did the USSR achieve accumulation of means of production?  What exact mechanisms have been applied to direct human labor capacities into this goal? Then, we can see how far these mechanisms correspond to capitalist mechanisms of growth as described by Marx.

Mizar, I'm not giving any

Mizar, I'm not giving any statistics. You are tho, and still haven't given a source.

Ungesund, we could discuss if the USSR was precapitalistic to some degree, but we can't argue that a society with commodity production (production for exchange) has abolished capital. There is commodity production to some degree in precapitalistic societies, but it's completely antagonistic with communism. As I've said, communism isn't a policy. The State, police and professional army aren't compatible with communism as well. It isn't a matter of matching the USSR with capitalism based on some characteristics, it's that "some characteristics" aren't compatible with communism. Not just commodity production, but sending millions of workers to kill their class brothers and get killed, or getting  almost every prominent October Revolution shot, jailed or murdered.

Comunero wrote:

Comunero wrote:

Mizar, I'm not giving any statistics.

Therefore your statement is proofless and we have nothing to talk about.

Ungesund wrote:

There is no either/or between different types of economy. All real economies are somehow mixed. Terms like "feudalism", "capitalism", "socialism" are ideal-typical constructions serving for orientation.

Of course,there is no pure social economic systems, any system emerges from an old one; "which is thus in every respect, economically, morally, and intellectually, still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it emerges." .But we talk about feudal, capitalist or socialist society if feudal, capitalist or socialist economic sector is  dominant in the society .

Now look:

"На рынок поступало лишь 14 % всей промышленной продукции СССР, остальные 86 % промышленной продукции распределялись минуя рыночные механизмы, административно-командными методами."

 Here we see that although the commodity - money relations yet are not fully abolished, they already do not play decisive role. So we see the classic transition society  with the birthmarks of the old society but with a dominant new socialist sector -because only a socialist economy does not convert products into a commodity, but DISTRIBUTES it.

Comunero wrote:

Comunero wrote:

we can't argue that a society with commodity production (production for exchange) has abolished capital.

Comunero, I completely agree, these societies are not communist.
But I struggle with the statement above. To find out whether a society has abolished capital we have to look at stuff of a lower abstraction level (like economic data), not at concepts of a higher abstraction level (like "socialism" etc.). We cannot understand reality when doing the latter, but would stick reality into a box of our opinions, and loose the ability to check our concepts of higher abstraction level. Once the capital question is solved we can go to the next higher abstraction level.

Do means of production in combination with wage labor function as capital if the prices of the means of production are less determined by market processes than by decisions of an elite and if the flow of ressources forming means of production and labor force does not underly an equalization of profit rates, and do not flow into the areas of highest profits, but instead into areas and with prices determined by political decisions of an elite?

There is no obligation to not call a socioeconomic relationship "capital" if the answer is "yes". Then, the sense of the term "capital" would not be the same as set out by Marx - which would not be a problem in itself. But I doubt whether it would be useful to widen the term "capital" to such an extend, because equalization of profit rates and profit maximization to me seem to be essential to understand those societies of which we agree to call "capitalist".

Mizar wrote:

But we talk about feudal, capitalist or socialist society if feudal, capitalist or socialist economic sector is  dominant in the society

A fourth concept may be helpful: the concept of simple commodity production, ie. a non-socialist, non-capitalist mode of commodity production. Not "money - commodity - more money", but "commodity A - money - commodity B" (for USSR: Ukrainian grain - US-Dollars or German Marks - steel plant in Russia). Through dependencies on capitalist economies, the law of value could penetrate those societies and enforce a mode of simple commodity production.

Ungesund wrote:

Ungesund wrote:

. Not "money - commodity - more money", but "commodity A - money - commodity B" (for USSR: Ukrainian grain - US-Dollars or German Marks - steel plant in Russia). Through dependencies on capitalist economies, the law of value could penetrate those societies and enforce a mode of simple commodity production.

At first, the USSR didn't depend on capitalist economies. From the same article: 

" CCCР входил в число 5 стран мира, способных самостоятельно производить все виды промышленной продукции

Экономика СССР была мобилизационного типа, c административно-командной системой управления, с крайне высоким уровнем ... автаркии."

So, it was an autarky where almost 9/10 of manufactured goods were not a commodity but a social product.

At second, the formula " Ukrainian grain - US-Dollars or German Marks - steel plant in Russia " shows  only an exchange of works. Really, a product exported from the USSR was a commodity only at an external market. Regarding the USSR, it was not a commodity, but a social product transferred outside for an exchange.

Is there something that goes against socialism?

You're probably right, Mizar,

You're probably right, Mizar, we have nothing to talk about.