By concentrating capital in the hands of the state, state capitalism has created the illusion that private ownership of the means of production has disappeared and that the bourgeoisie has been eliminated. The Stalinist theory of ‘socialism’ in one country, the whole lie of the ‘socialist’ or ‘communist’ countries, or of countries ‘on the road’ to socialism, all have their origins in this mystification.
The changes brought about by the tendency to state capitalism are not to be found on the level of the basic relations of production, but only on the level of the juridical forms of property.
They do not eliminate the private ownership of the means of production, but only the juridical aspect of individual ownership. The means of production remain ‘private’ property as far as the workers are concerned; the workers are deprived of any control over the means of production. The means of production are only ‘collectivised’ for the bureaucracy which owns and manages them in a collective manner.
The state bureaucracy which takes on the specific function of extracting surplus labour from the proletariat and of accumulating national capital constitutes a class. But it is not a new class. The role it plays shows that it is nothing but the same old bourgeoisie in its statified form. Concerning its privileges as a class, what is specific to the state bureaucracy is primarily the fact that it obtains its privileges not through revenues arising out of the individual ownership of capital, but through ‘running costs’, bonuses, and fixed forms of payment given to it according to the function its members fulfil - a form of remuneration which simply has the appearance of ‘wages’ and which is often tens or hundreds of times higher than the wages given to the working class.
The centralisation and planning of capitalist production by the state and its bureaucracy far from being a step towards the elimination of exploitation is simply a way of intensifying exploitation, of making it more effective.
On the economic level, Russia, even during the short time that the proletariat held political power there, has never been able to eliminate capitalism. If state capitalism appeared there so quickly in a highly developed form, it was because the economic disorganisation which resulted from Russia’s defeat in World War I, then the chaos of the Civil War, made Russia’s survival as a national capital within a decadent world system all the more difficult.
The triumph of the counter-revolution in Russia expressed itself as a reorganisation of the national economy which used the most developed forms of state capitalism and cynically presented them as the ‘continuation of October’ and the ‘building of socialism’. The example was followed elsewhere: China, Eastern Europe, Cuba, North Korea, Indo-china, etc. However, there is nothing proletarian or communist in any of these countries. They are countries, where, under the weight of one of the greatest lies in history, the dictatorship of capital rules in its most decadent form. Any defence of these countries, no matter how ‘critical’ or ‘conditional’, is a completely counter-revolutionary activity.
The collapse of the eastern bloc and of the Stalinist regimes has swept away this mystification of the so-called 'socialist' countries which for more than half a century was the spearhead of the most terrible counter-revolution in history. Nevertheless, the 'democratic' bourgeoisie, by unleashing its endless campaigns about the so-called 'failure of communism', is still perpetuating the greatest lie in history : the identification between Stalinism and communism. The parties of the left and extreme left of capital which, even in a critical manner, supported the so-called 'socialist' countries, are now obliged to adapt to the new conditions of the world situation. In order to carry on controlling and mystifying the proletariat, they are trying to make people forget their support for Stalinism, even if it means falsifying their own past.