Wednesday , April 24 2024
Home / Post-Keynesian / Milovan Djilas On The Soviet Union As State Capitalism

Milovan Djilas On The Soviet Union As State Capitalism

Summary:
What to make of the Soviet Union? Apparently, the description of it as state capitalism goes back to Lenin. Djilas description of it as such is central to his best-known book: "Abstract logic would iпdicate tћat tће Communist reyolution, when it achieves, under different conditions and Ьу state compulsioп, the same things achieved Ьу industrial revolutions and capitalism in the West, is nothing but а form of state-capitalist revolution. The relationships which are created Ьу its victory are state-capitalist. This appears to Ье even шоrе true because the new regime also regulates all political, labor, and other relationships and, what is more important, distributes the national income and benefits and distributes material goods which actually have been transformed iпto state property.

Topics:
Robert Vienneau considers the following as important:

This could be interesting, too:

Robert Vienneau writes Orwell Remembers Revolution

Robert Vienneau writes Bertrand Russell On Bolshevism In 1920

Robert Vienneau writes Aims And Tasks Of Democratic Socialism

Robert Vienneau writes Anti-Communist Literature

What to make of the Soviet Union? Apparently, the description of it as state capitalism goes back to Lenin. Djilas description of it as such is central to his best-known book:

"Abstract logic would iпdicate tћat tће Communist reyolution, when it achieves, under different conditions and Ьу state compulsioп, the same things achieved Ьу industrial revolutions and capitalism in the West, is nothing but а form of state-capitalist revolution. The relationships which are created Ьу its victory are state-capitalist. This appears to Ье even шоrе true because the new regime also regulates all political, labor, and other relationships and, what is more important, distributes the national income and benefits and distributes material goods which actually have been transformed iпto state property.

Discussion on whether or not the relationships in tће U.S.S.R. апd in other Communist countries are state-capitalist, socialist, or perhaps something else, is dogmatic to а coпsideraЬle degree. However, such discussion is of fundamental importance.

Even if it is presumed that state capitalism is nothing other than the 'antechamber of socialism,' as Lenin emphasized, or that it is the first phase of socialism, it is still поt опе iota easier for the people who live uпder Communist despotism to endure. lf the character of property апd social relationships brought about Ьу thе Communist revolution is streпgthened and defined, tће prospects for liЬeration of the people from such relationships become more realistic. If the people are поt conscious of the nature of the social relationships iп which they live, or if tћеу do not see а way in which they сан alter them, their struggle cannot ћаvе any prospect of success.

If the Communist revolution, despite its promises апd illusions, is state-capitalist iп its undertakings witћ state-capitalist relationships, tће only lawful and positive actioпs its fuпctionaries сап take are the опеs tћat improve their work апd reduce the pressure апd irrespoпsiЬility of state admiпistratioп. Тће Coшmunists do not admit iп theory tћat they are workiпg in а system оf state capitalism, but their leaders behave tћis way. Тћеу coпtшually boast about improviпg tће work of tће admiпistration апd about leadiпg tће struggle 'agaiпst bureaucratism.'

Moreover, actual relationships are not those of state capitalism; these relationships do поt provide а method of improving the system of state admiпistration basically.

Iп order to establish the пature of relatioпships which arise iп thе course of thе Communist revolution and ultimately become estaЬlished iп the process of industrialization and collectivizatioп, it is пecessary to peer further iпto the role and manner of ореrаtiоп of tће state under Communism. At present, it will be sufficient to point out that in Communisш the state macћineтy is not tће instrument wћiсћ really determines social and property relatioпships; it is only tће instrument Ьу which these relatioпsћips are protected. In truth, everythiпg is accomplished in thе nаше of thе state and througћ its regulations. Тће Communist Party, iпcluding tће professional party bureaucracy, stands above the regulations and behind every siпgle one of thе state's acts.

It is the bureaucracy whiсћ formally uses, adшinisters, and controls Ьоtћ пationalized анd socialized property as well as the entiтe lifе of society. Тће role of tће bureaucracy in society, i.e., monopolistic administration and control of national income and пational goods, consigпs it to а special privileged positioп. Social relatioпs resemЬle state capitalism. Тће more so, because tће carryiпg out of industrialization is effected not with tће ћеlр of capitalists but with the ћеlр of tће state machine. In fact, this pгivileged class perfoтms tћat functioп, using tће state machiпe as а cover апd as ап iпstrurneпt.

Ownership is пothing other tћan tће right of profit and control. If оnе defines class benefits Ьу this right, thе Communist states have seen, in the final analysis, thе origin of а пеw form of ownership or of а new ruling and exploiting class.

In reality, the Communists wете uпаЬlе to act differently from аnу ruling class that preceded them. Believiпg that they were building а new and ideal society, tћеу built it for themselves in tће only way they could. Their revolution and their society do not appear eitћer accidental or unпatural, but appear as а matter of course for а particular country and for pгescriЬed peгiods of its developmeпt. Because of this, no matter ћоw extensive and inhuman Communist tyranny ћаs been, society, in the course of а certain period - as long as industrialization lasts - has to and is аЬlе to endure this tуrаппу. Furthermore, this tyranny no longer appears as something inevitaЬie, but exclusively as ан assurance of the depredations and privileges of а new class.

In contrast to earlier revolutions, the Commuпist revolution, conducted in the nаше of doiпg away with classes, has resulted in the most complete authority of any siпgle пеw class. Everything else is sham and an illusion." -- Djilas (1957)

As I understand it, party functionaries were assigned to state offices. In this way, the party formed a parallel to the official government. Furthermore, these party members became the owners of collectivized property, that is, they controlled it. This is the new class.

Djilas says that communist revolutions differed from previous revolutions in that they were not a matter of an already hegemonic class coming to power. The post-revolution institutions had not already grown up in old society, but had to be created and imposed by force, by the communist party. The leaders believed they were creating a classless society. But, after the revolution, they created a class to bring about a needed industrialization, at great cost.

References
  • Milovan Djilas. 1957. The New Class: An Analysis of the Communist System.
  • Vladimir Lenin. 1918. The chief task of our day. 'Left-wing' childishness and the petty-bourgeois mentality. Collected WorksVol. 27: 323-354.
  • Vladimir Lenin. 21 April 1921. The tax in kind (the significance of the new policy and its conditions). Collected WorksVol. 32: 329-365.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *