File spoon-archives/marxism2.archive/marxism2_1996/96-04-30.191, message 116


Date: Wed, 24 Apr 1996 19:52:50 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: state capitalist theories


I am in a hurry and going by memory, so please forgive lapses in
dates and other facts.  Raya Dunayevskaya developed her views on
state capitalism largely in collaboration with C.L.R. James and
others in the 1940s, in the grouping known as the Johnson-Forest
Tendency, named after their pseudonyms.  I believe the two
independently developed their initial positions in 1940 or 1941 in
essays published in THE NEW INTERNATIONAL and/or the WORKERS PARTY
INTERNAL BULLETIN.  I can look up the exact references later.
Raya, James, Grace Lee (Boggs) and occasionally others published
some of their works jointly, some individually.  Raya published
her analyses of the Russian economy in an economics journal.  They
were finally reprinted a few years ago in her book THE
MARXIST-HUMANIST THEORY OF STATE-CAPITALISM.  James wrote a key
article on the state capitalist theory in debate with Joseph
Carter.  The Tendency really took off theoretically in the late
1940s.  James wrote NOTES ON DIALECTICS in 1948.  The summum of
the Tendency's position is STATE CAPITALISM AND WORLD REVOLUTION
(1950), reprinted in 1986 by Charles H. Kerr.

I have never been able to fully accept the notion of state
capitalism, but I think you all would be wise not to get too hung
up on the label and explore the logic and implications of the
various theories.  I believe there is much that is fruitful in the
Johnson-Forest view as well as internal inconsistencies.  I think
there is a fundamental contradiction between Stalinist state
property and private property, but the notion of Stalinism as the
ultimate rationalist production for production's sake also has a
logic to it.

I have only the sketchiest familiarity with Tony Cliff's theory.
I have never seen it compared to the Johnson-Forest theory.  I
also don't know whether Cliff was influenced by Jonson-Forest or
vice versa.  As far as I know, they were independent
developments.

Other notable theories are Hillel Ticktin's and Walter Daum's.
Daum wrote a book called THE LIFE AND DEATH OF STALINISM, which
some have claimed to be the most sophisticated version of the
theory.


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