- Category: History
- Created on Friday, 10 December 2010 11:54
- Written by Mike Ely
by Mike Ely
An important theoretical resource is now available -- presenting in sharply posed debate-format different views on the post-50s USSR. It will be valuable for many different revolutionaries today to study it, and engage the controversies.
In 1983, the RCP,USA organized a significant conference in the U.S. to debate the nature of the USSR.
I was one of the organizers of that conference and participated in the RCP team that developed and evaluated papers (and worked through the RCP's own position in the debate).
As part of that conference, the RCP published two books and an issue of Revolution magazine (#52) that gathered opposing positions.
Now, after a long time out of print, one of those books is now available for download in PDF format. It is volume 1 of Soviet Union: Socialist or Social Imperialist.
I want to thank the folks at Revolutionary Initiative for making it available to us.
At the time, of course, the nature of the Soviet Union was a burning question of the highest importance. But today it is not merely of distant historical value:
This is a debate over how to understand the twentieth century, and what that experience says about the very NATURE of socialism.
- What is a socialist society?
- How is it different from just a mix of welfare programs, state planning and leftist self-description?
- Is it possible to have capitalist restoration while continuing a socialist pretense -- and
- If so, how can oppressed people be conscious of the mechanisms and signs of that process?
There can be no new wave of successful socialist revolution without deeply understanding these controversies.
For contents and details >
It includes several very important essays that I urge every serious revolutionary to read. Two are from defenders of the "Soviet socialism" thesis -- David Laibman and Al Szymanski. And two elaborate the Soviet Social-Imperialism thesis:
- The 'State Capitalist' and 'Bureaucratic-Exploitative' Interpretetions of the Soviet Social Formation: A Critique, by David Laibman
- Soviet Socialism and Proletarian Internationalism by Al Szymanski
- Soviet Economic Relations with India and Other Third World Countries by Santosh K. Mehrotra and Patrick Clawson
- The 'Tarnished Socialism' thesis or the Political Economy of Soviet Social-Imperialism by the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
I want to particularly call your attention to the last two pieces:
- The essay by Mehrotra and Clawson do a remarkable work of political economy laying bare how surplus value is extracted by the Soviet Union (of the Breznev years) from oppressed countries in the third world. It is a contribution to the understanding of the imperialism of Soviet social-imperialism.
- The last piece "Tarnished Socialism" shreds a common idea: that the Soviet Union was "bad socialism" but socialism none-the-less. It digs into understanding the capitalist nature of the social system in the USSR after the 1950s.
We at Kasama are hoping to make the second volume of this series available soon -- since that second volume includes an important (even path-breaking) essay that explains in depth how a state-owned society can (and does) operate as capitalist.
Revolution magazine (1984) including a number of valuable analyses (including a class analysis of the Soviet bourgeoisie). These were based on Maoist presentations on the panels of the Soviet Union coverence. I am hoping to post my own contribution to these discussions: "Against the 'Lesser Evil' Thesis: Soviet Preparations for World War 3."
(If anyone wants to scan Volume 2 and Revolutoin #52, please pass on the pdfs!)