By Alex Callinicos
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Extra resources for Trotskyism (Concepts in Social Thought)
Indeed, “[t]he Stalinist bureaucracy is the American [labour] bureaucracy carried through to its ultimate and logical conclusion, both of them products of capitalist production in the epoch of state capitalism” (James 1986a: 43). 3⁄4 3⁄4 TROTSKYISM TROTSKYISM Informing this analysis was the belief that “the new productive system of socialism is primarily distinguished by an entirely new organization of labour within the process of production itself, in a reorganization of society beginning in the factory, the centre of production relations” (James 1986a: 31).
Shachtman’s insistence that the USSR was a new form of class society produced by the contradictions of capitalism, but that socialism nevertheless remained on the agenda as a resolution of these contradictions superior to bureaucratic collectivism, made possible a dramatic political somersault. Initially, the WP remained committed to the conditional defence of the USSR in war, on the grounds that, as its 1941 convention put it, “[f]rom the standpoint of socialism, the bureaucratic collectivist state is a reactionary social order; in relation to the capitalist world, it is on a historically more progressive plane” (quoted in Cliff 1982: 87).
This analysis identified military competition between East and West as the chief mechanism enforcing the dynamic of capital accumulation on the USSR. The escalation of the Cold War led to unprecedentedly high levels of peacetime arms expenditure, particularly in the two superpowers. In 1962 military spending corresponded to half of world gross capital formation (Kidron 1970: 49). Now arms production has, from the standpoint of Marxist economic theory, peculiar properties. It neither provides new means of production (Department I) nor contributes to the consumption of the working class (Department IIa).
Trotskyism (Concepts in Social Thought) by Alex Callinicos