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The choices for Russia – The economic programme of the Left Opposition, part 2

1st September 1999 Socialist Action 0

[Continued from Part 1]


2. The central choice in the Soviet economy

From the fact that it was not possible to resolve all contradictions within the Soviet economy on the basis of the economy of one country, however, did not follow that nothing could be done in the USSR itself. Quite the contrary, from the difficulties it flowed that everything possible should be done. The point was simply that socialism in one country and the classic Marxist analysis outlined by Trotsky led to diametrically opposite conclusions as to what should be done. As Trotsky noted: ‘In general, within the boundaries of a single nation, it is impossible to completely overcome the difficulties resulting from the delay in the world revolution. This should be said clearly, firmly and honestly, in a Marxist and Leninist way. But although the fate of the revolution is a function of its international character, it does not follow that the party in each country is relieved of the duty to do the maximum in all areas. On the contrary, this obligation only increases, because the economic errors made in the USSR not only retard the building of socialism in our country, but strike in the most direct way at the world revolution.’ [45]

He noted: ‘A [genuine] left course could not promise to build “full socialism” by our efforts alone. It could not even promise a complete triumph over the contradictions within the country, as long as world contradictions exist. But it could gradually establish more correct control over the domestic class contradictions – more correct from the standpoint of socialism under construction. It could quicken the rate of growth, through a more correct policy of distributing the national income. It could consolidate in a more systematic and serious way the proletariat’s hold on the commanding heights of the economy.’ [46]

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The choices for Russia – The economic programme of the Left Opposition, part 3

1st September 1999 Socialist Action 0

[Continued from Part 2]


3. Democracy and the categories of commodity economy

It was from the angle of proportions in the economy, not micro decision-making, self management, that the issues of the relation of democracy and economics were most fundamentally posed. Democratic resolution of the plan, to decide the allocation of resources, was the decisive issue. As Trotsky noted: ‘The problem of the elements of production and the branches of the economy constitutes the very heart of socialist economy.’ [93]

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The left and European Monetary Union

1st July 1996 Socialist Action 0

First published: July 1996

‘The completion of the socialist revolution within national limits is unthinkable. One of the basic reasons for the crisis in bourgeois society is the fact that the productive forces created by it can no longer be reconciled with the framework of the national state. From this follow, on the one hand, imperialist wars, on the other, the utopia of a bourgeois United States of Europe. The socialist revolution begins on the national arena, it unfolds on the international arena, and is completed on the world arena. Thus, the socialist revolution becomes a permanent revolution in a news and broader sense of the word; it attains completion only in the final victory of the new society on our entire planet.’ – Trotsky

The social explosion in France at the end of last year, and the new wave of cuts in public spending planned in Germany, France, Spain, Belgium and other states, show the contradictions in which those on the left who supported the Treaty of Maastricht now find themselves. They endorse the very agreement which is co-ordinating the attacks on the welfare state on a European Union wide level and, in doing so, place themselves on a collision course with every section of the European labour movement acting to defend the welfare state.

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Marxism and inter-imperialist competition

1st May 1993 Socialist Action 0

First published: May 1993

The consideration of inter-imperialist competition is frequently not integrated into the body of Marxist economic analysis, which is too often seen as relating to the study of the workplace or to national capitalism, with inter-imperialist competition running ‘parallel’ to this. This is radically wrong.

The starting point of Marx’s analysis is the development of ‘capital in general’ or ‘the capital of the whole society’ [1]. This is sometimes taken to be the capital in a nation state, but this is wrong. [2] Capitalism is an international system in which the world economy is dominant. The decline in the rate of profit throughout the 1960s and 1970s, from which capital has still not recovered and which is the driving force of the present crisis, was an international decline working itself out in all countries.

But capital as it actually exists is not ‘capital in general’. As Marx put it: ‘In their actual movement capitals confront each other in certain concrete forms’. [3] Capital exists as different firms, and different nations with different companies and trusts, in competition with each other. It exists, as Marx put it, as ‘many capitals’. Competition between these capitals is the ‘essential locomotive force of the bourgeois economy’.  [4] Competition is the mechanism by which the fundamental laws of the capitalist economy work themselves out.