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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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Fight racism

1st November 1998 Socialist Action 0

First published: November 1998

Racism has become a key political weapon deployed more and more frequently by mainstream capitalist parties in Western Europe, Australia and the United States over the last decade. A recent example is the governing Christian Social Union (CSU) campaign in Bavaria which featured a poster stating: ‘If you want more foreigners don’t vote CSU’. The head of the CSU parliamentary caucus in Bonn stated in July ‘Foreigners and criminals are two topics which unfortunately go together’. The campaign was so racist that the local far right withdrew their candidates on the grounds that the CSU had already adopted all of their policies!

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Why Blair and Mandelson are paranoid about the Labour left

1st November 1998 Socialist Action 0

First published: November 1998

An unprecedented and well-funded operation was launched over the summer to back the Blairite slate for the constituency section of the Labour Party national executive. This included spending at least £50,000 on half-page adverts in national newspapers and magazines, direct mail-shots to thousands of party members, printing thousands of glossy promotional brochures and employing a private marketing firm to undertake telephone canvassing. The centre-left slate was publicly denounced by party general secretary Tom Sawyer – who is supposed to uphold the impartiality of the election – and by former party leader Neil Kinnock. At issue was not control of the NEC, because the constituency section makes up less than a fifth of the NEC seats, but the elimination of all possible dissent from the leading bodies of the party. This looks like paranoia. But it is, in reality, rational.

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Capitalism and the rise of world poverty

1st November 1998 Socialist Action 0

First published: October/November 1998

It is appropriate in the year of the 150th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto to draw up the economic balance sheet of capitalism in the twentieth century. In addition to the destruction of two World Wars and numerous regional wars, the record is that economic development of a small core of imperialist states occurred at the expense of the populations of the majority of market economies falling further and further behind. The only large economies to close the gap with the major imperialist states are those where capitalism was overthrown. Where capitalism was restored that progress was reversed. With capitalism entering a new period of global turmoil, translating into impoverishment, starvation and untold misery for hundreds of millions of people, Marx and Engels’ view that the working class is the only social force which can take humanity as a whole forward retains all of its force today.

Since the mid-1970s, inequality has risen to the highest levels in history. Impoverishment, starvation, avoidable disease and death have devastated whole continents and destroyed the lives of millions of people.

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Conference shows current stage of international left recomposition

1st October 1998 Socialist Action 0

First published: October 1998

Over 700 people participated in the conference ‘150 years after the Communist Manifesto’ held in Paris in May. The congress, initiated by the French Communist Party and organised by a coalition of French Marxists, social democrats and academics, gave an indication of the current stage of recomposition of the international Marxist movement.

The conference was open and non-sectarian. It had a hybrid character, however – combining a large body of (largely male) academics with a significant number of political parties and currents.