1990s >> 1992 >> no-1051-march-1992

The Theory of State Capitalism


  “The fact of the matter is that the credit for this particular form of state capitalism should go back to the Socialist Party of Great Britain, who taught Jock Haston his Marxism in the first place (cf Against the Stream, p. 251) and had promulgated the theory as far back as 1918. For it was Haston who first raised the question of state capitalism within the Revolutionary Communist Party, not only as a purely Russian phenomenon but in global terms, both in the group’s internal bulletin (War and the International, pp. 182-5) and in a series of articles in Socialist Appeal (mid-August to mid-September 1947). In fact Cliff’s remit from Mandel when he first came to Britain was specifically to argue against these ‘state capitalist’ heresies, and what happened was that in the course of the dispute the contestants changed sides. Anyone who wishes to make a serious investigation of the whole topic should consult the above sources, as well as the SPGB’s position, which was reissued as a pamphlet in the same year as Cliff first published his own, though we have to admit that Cliff’s logic is inferior to theirs, since they dated Russia’s capitalist revolution back to 1917.”

—from a review of Alex Callinicos’s book Trotskyism in Revolutionary History, Autumn 1991.