State capitalism

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The earliest critique of the USSR as state-capitalist was formulated by various groups adhering to left communism. One major tendency of the 1918 Russian communist left criticised the re-employment of authoritarian capitalist relations and methods within production. As Ossinsky in particular argued, one-man management and the other impositions of capitalist discipline would stifle the active participation of workers in the organisation of production; Taylorism turned workers into the appendages of machines, and piece-wages imposed individualist rather than collective rewards in production so instilling petty bourgeois values into workers. In sum these measures were seen as the re-transformation of proletarians within production from collective subject back into the atomised objects of capital. The working class, it was argued, had to consciously participate in economic as well as political administration. This tendency within the 1918 left communists emphasized that the problem with capitalist production was that it turned workers into objects. Its transcendence lay in the workers' conscious creativity and participation, which is reminiscent of Marx's critique of alienation.[15]

These criticisms were revived on the left of the Russian Communist Party after the 10th Congress in 1921, which introduced the New Economic Policy. Many members of the Workers' Opposition and the Decists (both later banned) and two new underground Left Communist groups, Gavril Myasnikov's Workers' Group and the Workers' Truth group, developed the idea that Russia was becoming a state capitalist society ruled by a new bureaucratic class.[16][17] The most developed version of this idea was in a 1931 booklet by Myasnikov.[18]

Use by Mensheviks

After 1929, exiled Mensheviks such as Fyodor Dan began to argue that Stalin's Russia constituted a state capitalist society.[19]

Use by Trotskyists

Leon Trotsky said the term state capitalism "originally arose to designate the phenomena which arise when a bourgeois state takes direct charge of the means of transport or of industrial enterprises" and is therefore a "partial negation" of capitalism.[20] However, Trotsky rejected that description of the USSR claiming instead that it was a degenerated workers' state. After World War II, most in the Trotskyist movement accepted an analysis of the Soviet block countries as being deformed workers' states. However, alternative currents within the Trotskyist tradition have developed the theory of state capitalism as a New Class theory to explain of what they regard as the essentially non-socialist nature of the USSR, Cuba, China, and other self-proclaimed socialist states.

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