USSR: then and now

Other theories, other labels

If, after the launch of the first five-year plan, the Soviet Union cannot be classified as a workers’ state, what was it? Jack Conrad looks at some alternatives that have been offered by different schools of thought

On the so-called ladder of historical progress there are those on the left who consider the first five-year plan to be a step away from socialism … but half a step forward to “bureaucratic state capitalism” (Tony Cliff).1 Many other such state-capitalist theories, labels and verdicts had already been presented ... and by a very diverse range of thinkers at that.

Lenin thought that Soviet Russia should build state capitalism (under proletarian rule). That would be a “step forward”, compared with “petty-proprietor, small capital”, and, if achieved, would put “full socialism” within reach.2 Zinoviev echoed this positive perspective in his writings in the 1920s. On the other hand, there were those who used the term ‘state capitalism’ in an entirely pejorative manner: Karl Kautsky, Theodore Dan, Emma Goldman, Herman Gorter, Raya Dunayevskaya, etc.

There were differences over October 1917. Either the revolution was considered premature, Russia not being ripe for socialism - that, or the stress was laid on the failure of revolution in Europe. But the general consensus was that the Bolsheviks had been forced to substitute themselves for the capitalist bourgeoisie. However, post-1928-29, necessarily, this entire pejorative school found itself hopelessly mangling the elementary social categories of capitalism: the law of value, wage labour, profit, money, etc, so as to fit the still vaguely understood realities of the rapidly evolving Soviet Union. A Procrustean bed, not a coherent theory.

Looking back to the late 1940s, Cliff recounts how he “didn’t come” to the theory of state capitalism “by a long analysis of the law of value in Russia [sic], the economic statistics in Russia”. No, nothing of the kind: “I came to it by the simple statement that if the emancipation of the working class is the act of the working class, then you cannot have a workers’ state without workers having power to dictate what happens in society.” Cliff further explains that he had to “choose between what Trotsky said - the heart of Trotsky is the self-activity of the workers - or the form of property. I decided to push away the form of property as determining the question.”3

Cliff was right to dismiss the Soviet Union as a workers’ state. If workers had no political power and no positive control over the means of production, then that category simply makes no sense. However, Cliff was painfully aware of Trotsky’s repeated polemics savaging the idea of the Soviet Union being state-capitalist. The October Revolution, he said, put the working class into power and, despite Stalin, remained in power, if only because of “socialistic property forms”.4 As for state capitalism, it was, maintained Trotsky, impossible. Neither the giant monopolies nor the great tycoons would countenance such an outcome. State capitalism actually amounted to nothing more than a tendency for the role of the state to expand. Trotsky, therefore, dismissed attempts to “identify capitalist state-ism with the Soviet system” as “absurd”.5

Cliff conceded ground before Trotsky’s shade. The state exercised a monopoly over foreign trade and, Cliff asserted, in effect, within the country, the state acted as the sole employer. Hence, Soviet workers had to be categorically distinguished from workers in the west. They could not really change their employer because there was only one employer (as we have repeatedly argued elsewhere, a badly mistaken assumption). Contradicting the state-capitalist theories of his contemporaries, Cliff readily admits that “if one examines the relations within the Russian economy, abstracting them from their relations with the world economy, one is bound to conclude that the source of the law of value, as the motor and regulator of production, is not to be found in it”.6

Despite that, a few decades later, in reply to a rather lame Eurocommunist critique of Cliff’s state-capitalist theory,7 we find his disciples insisting that workers in the Soviet Union were just like ordinary wage-workers in the west. Peter Binns and Duncan Hallas write that “wage-labour” and a “wages system in the strict Marxian definition of the term” existed in the Soviet Union.8 A claim ‘corrected’ shortly afterwards by Binns himself (this time in collaboration with Mike Haynes). There was no “genuine labour market there”. But, the pair insisted, that does not matter in terms of theory. The existence of a “pure wage market” is not required by capitalism - as shown by the examples of slavery in the US south and serfdom in tsarist Russia.9 Of course, inserting the word “pure” is a ruse. After all, who had been insisting on a “pure labour market”? Capitalism has never been characterised by all-encompassing wage-labour: there is, for example, a not inconsiderable stratum of self-employed. As for the US south and tsarist Russia, both were locked into subordinate trade relations with British capitalism: cotton, tobacco, timber, cordage, leather, hemp.10 Nevertheless - and this is the real point - British capitalism did have a “genuine labour market”.

The Binns-Haynes position elicited strong objections from Duncan Hallas. He stood by the contention of wage-labour and a labour market: because without wage-labour and a labour market the theory of “bureaucratic state capitalism” falls. “If labour is not a commodity in the USSR” there could be no proletariat, and without a proletariat “there can be no wage-labour/capital relationship”. Ergo, “no capital either … and no capitalism in any form”. It was vital, therefore, according to Hallas, to define work in the Soviet Union as wage-labour. Moreover, workers had to sell their labour-power for “genuine money” and buy “commodities”, goods “produced for sale” …. if that is not the case “then the USSR is not capitalist”. Instead - quelle horreur - “it must be a new method of extracting surplus product from an exploited class that is not a proletariat”.11 Such reasoning surely exposes the true worth of state-capitalist theory. The conclusion lies at the beginning, not the end.


We have already seen that Cliff’s first line of argument relied on what logicians call the exclusive disjunction. Either the Soviet Union was moving in the direction of genuine socialism or, given the abundant evidence that belied such a claim, it has to be going in the direction of “state capitalism” (that or it is “already state capitalism”).12 It is one or the other. A binary choice.

His second line of argument appealed to external contradictions. Military competition with Germany, Japan, Great Britain, France, the United States, etc imposed the logic of capitalism: ie, “the increasing rate of exploitation, and the increasing subordination of the workers to the means of production”.13 Given the fixation on use-values, albeit through the mediation of target-values, this is unconvincing. With the first five-year plan, doubtless the mass of surplus pumped out of workers substantially increased. There was an accompanying drive to build up the forces of production. The success of primary accumulation meant that the Soviet Union had at its disposal a powerful arms industry and a Red Army equipped with modern weapons (ie, target-values which have use-values). Of course, Marxists have traditionally ascribed the task of primary accumulation to capitalism. But taking up tasks traditionally ascribed to capitalism does not equal capitalism. The argument has to be proven.

Furthermore, it has to be said, under capitalism - that is, under real capitalism - when it comes to fighting big wars, there is an overriding drive for use-values. A tank is a tank, a fighter plane is a fighter plane - for the state. True, the same cannot be said of Messerschmitt, Krupp, Vickers-Armstrongs, de Havilland, Ford, Mitsubishi, Boeing, etc. Arms manufacturers seek to realise a profit. But - and this is vital - the dominant social logic runs in the direction of use-value, not exchange-value.

World War II can surely serve as a test case. Between 1939 and 1945 Britain subordinated its entire economy to the war effort. That meant restricting, even suspending, the operation of the law of value: banning strikes and lockouts, direction of skilled labour, military conscription, labour conscription for the coal mines, rationing, government administration of agriculture, forced savings, central allocation of steel and capital, state control over railways, ports and road haulage, government prioritising of aircraft production, etc.14 A similar pattern can be seen in Germany, the US, Italy and Japan. So total war generates war socialism.

Actually, Cliff’s ladder was not that different, compared with ‘official’ Stalinism and ‘official’ Trotskyism. Both presented the Soviet Union as being on the highest rung of post-capitalist progress. Cliff’s only disagreement appears to be that, having demonstrated that the Soviet Union was not any kind of socialism, there was only one other option: bureaucratic state capitalism - the “highest stage possible” under the system of capitalism before the transition to socialism”.15 Cliff’s “bureaucratic state capitalism” therefore includes a positive claim: the Soviet Union was “progressive”, because it developed the “material conditions” necessary for a “higher order”.16

The events of 1989-91 should have prompted a thorough-going reappraisal. Sad to say, because of sect interests, the politics of conviction were replaced by the politics of denial. Eg, Chris Harman, an ever loyal Tony Cliff lieutenant, claimed that the Soviet apparatus simply undertook a “sideways” move from state to private ownership.17 How that squared with the Soviet Union as the “highest stage possible” under capitalism went revealingly unexplored.

New mode

If the Soviet Union cannot be classified as a workers’ state nor as state-capitalist, should Marxists classify it as wholly original, a new mode of production ruled over by a class of collective exploiters - the contention of Bruno Rizzi, Max Shachtman, James Burnham, Rudolph Hilferding, Joseph Carter, Michael Harrington, Milovan Djilas, Sean Matgamna, etc?18

Understandably, many on the left want to morally distance themselves from the USSR, maintain an unsullied vision of socialism and put an end to the trite ‘If it isn’t this, it must be that’ game. Yet, because of changing realities, false suppositions and constantly shifting moods, there are umpteen versions of the theory.

In broad terms, though, what is commonly called bureaucratic collectivism can be considered:

(a) universal: a previously unexpected stage between capitalism and socialism. The ladder of progress therefore goes: original communism, slavery, feudalism, capitalism, bureaucratic collectivism and only then socialism/communism.

(b) unique: due to the Soviet Union’s unripeness for socialism - that or the failure of the October Revolution to spread internationally - the Bolsheviks morph into a wholly exceptional dictatorship over workers and peasants.

(c) partial: a stage that should be expected in backward, mainly agricultural, societies attempting to modernise, under conditions where the world is dominated by capitalism.

With the publication of The bureaucratisation of the world (1939), Bruno Rizzi is widely credited as being the founder of the new mode of production school. Doubtless, so it seems, that distinction should go to others. Lucian Laurat and Simone Weil have been mentioned.19 Nevertheless, for our purposes, not least because he has been so widely discussed, Rizzi can serve as an introduction to the universal version of the theory.

He saw the Soviet Union as dominated by a “new ruling class” which arose with the “retreat” of the October Revolution. However, this “new-formed” society was leading the entire world.20 Hitler and Mussolini were somewhat behind, but travelled along the same essential route. With Roosevelt’s new deal, so too did the US. According to Rizzi, the Soviet Union constituted a Stalinist antechamber, which, having developed the means of production, creates the material conditions needed for the transition to communism. Claims of a new mode of production did not stop Rizzi running with a bog-standard list of categories taken from capitalist political economy: eg, commodity production, surplus value, profit and wage labour. An elementary, but unfortunately a still all-too-common error.

Rizzi is known nowadays mainly because of the polemic directed against him in Trotsky’s In defence of Marxism (1942). He built no organisation and left behind no group of co-thinkers. And, though a member of the Fourth International, though he floated in and around the Bordigaist current, it has to be admitted that his views are closer to national socialism than Marxism. For example, he urged Britain, France and the US to grant Germany, Italy and Japan the ‘living space’ needed for their continued economic expansion. His views on Jews certainly fit with the ‘socialism of fools’ denounced by August Bebel. He did not advocate pogroms, but, according to Rizzi, while there were lone good Jews, such as Marx and Trotsky, the Jewish people as a whole were a “capitalist dung heap”.21

Thankfully, as far as I know, neither Lucien Laurat nor Simone Weil shared Rizzi’s anti-Semitism. Nonetheless, they too saw distinct similarities between the Soviet Union and Mussolini Italy and Hitler Germany: all mass movements - whether socialist, communist or fascist - seemed to be moving in the direction of a bureaucratic collectivism dominated by managers and technocrats.

A pessimistic conclusion, repeated by James Burnham. Having definitively broken with Trotskyism in 1940, he almost instantly authored a best seller, The managerial revolution (1941). Burnham’s ‘managerial society’ matched Rizzi so closely that some accused him of plagiarism.22 Yet, because of his new found explicit anti-Marxism, Burnham was quickly drawn to the bosom of the US establishment. He is even regarded as providing key ideas for the paleoconservative right. In 1983 Ronald Reagan awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Laurat, Weil, Rizzi and Burnham produced what nowadays can only be regarded as literary curios. By contrast, Max Shachtman (1904-72), did manage to build an organisation. And his ideas live on in the Democratic Socialists of America, the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty in Britain and the many and various Worker-communist fragments of the Iraqi and Iranian diaspora.

Shachtman started off as an honest socialist, but ended his days backing Richard Nixon and the US war in Indo-China. That included the threat to bomb North Vietnam “back into the stone age” (US airforce general Curtis LeMay).23 Revealingly, a “substantial” number of Shachtman’s circle made a pretty seamless transition into the US neocon movement (some, such as Hal Draper, stayed true to socialism - he finally broke with Shachtman in the early 1960s).24 Latter-day followers too have locked themselves into the same horrible logic: eg, the AWL is proudly pro-Zionist and pro-imperialist.

Nonetheless, it would be stupid to dismiss Shachtman. Even as the Red Army dismembered Poland, along with Nazi Germany, Trotsky demanded that the Fourth International “defend the Soviet Union”, and Shachtman found that totally unacceptable. And what had been unacceptable became intolerable, when Stalin ordered the Red Army to invade Finland with a view to gaining still more territory. Nor, looking back, did Shachtman and co have any wish to celebrate the first five-year plan as a triumph for socialism.

Shachtman fielded some cogent arguments. The Soviet Union’s (reactionary) property relations are surely more important than its (progressive) property forms. If the state owns the means of production, what is crucial is who controls the state. There had been a violent bureaucratic counterrevolution. And, through the horrors of forced collectivisation, the purges, etc, the apparatus had been transformed into something far more than a mere parasitic caste. Not that bureaucratic collectivism was claimed to be anything more than an aberration by Shachtman. Revolution in the advanced capitalist countries would ensure its quick demise.

However, concrete analysis, discovering laws of motion and accurately predicting outcomes was noticeably absent. Rightly, the Soviet Union had to be distinguished from capitalism on the one side and socialism on the other. But on the ladder of progress it seems the Soviet Union could be placed either on a higher or lower rung, compared with capitalism. There is no consistency.

Joseph Carter, one of Shachtman’s comrades, seems to have been the man who coined the term, ‘bureaucratic collectivism’. In his view the Soviet Union did not represent anything progressive - no, not even nationalised property forms. The new bureaucratic ruling class attempted to expand the social surplus using methods that were dreadfully inefficient and wasteful. Terrorism and forced labour were deemed to be an “inherent feature” of production relations. Carter considered bureaucratic collectivism to be “a nationally limited” economy in terms of its origins, but, for the sake of its “nationally confined” productive forces, is propelled towards the overthrow of world capitalism. In other words, the “world triumph of bureaucratic collectivism”.25 What begins as unique is therefore driven to become universal.

In the 1970s, Moshé Machover and John Fantham produced a partial variant of bureaucratic collectivism - what they called, for the “sake of brevity”, state collectivism. Where the “normal path” of capitalist development was blocked - ie, in the “underdeveloped part of the world” - a new ruling class could constitute itself and then pursue a programme of modernisation: a path which ran parallel to capitalism. Examples given were of the Soviet Union, eastern Europe, China, North Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba and various African countries which had successfully carried out national-liberation revolutions.

Priority was given to department A, because this justified the bureaucracy ideologically. Heavy industry came with a potent aura of catching up, rationality and boundless technocratic optimism. However, the more successful was the bureaucracy, the more the contradictions build up. Bureaucratic planning could not cope with the complexities of a sophisticated industrial society. Incidentally, the two authors claimed that their use of ‘class’ when referring to the bureaucracy was perfectly justified. “Class is not a superhistorical category”, as each mode of production is specific. Hence, while the Soviet bureaucracy might not be a class in the capitalist sense, it was “still a class”: it had proved to be stable and reproduced itself.26

Not a mode

Whether or not the Soviet Union can be considered a mode of production is highly problematic. Surely, by definition, a mode of production implies extended reproduction. Yet the Soviet Union was characterised by an inability to continuously revolutionise the means of production. A mode of production also requires a consolidated ruling class.

Arguably, Stalin carried out his policies using officials whose “trustworthiness” and “competence” he considered “dubious”. Of course, from the mid-1930s onwards that so-called “anti-bureaucratic scenario” turned murderous.27 Members of the apparatus were massacred by the hundreds of thousands. And those who survived lived in constant fear. Even within their families husbands could not trust their wives, parents could not trust their children. So it was not only peasants, workers and intellectuals who were atomised. Even when the killing stopped, voicing an honest opinion, organising against superiors, even contacting foreigners remained extraordinarily risky. Tendencies towards cohering the apparatus into a ruling class were, as a result, constantly cut short. A point made by Trotsky and others too.

Following the 1991 fall, nomenklatura oligarchs successfully converted state property into heritable property. But, let us not forget, only a minority of the oligarchs came from the apparatus: eg, Viktor Chernomyrdin, Vladimir Scherbakov, Rem Vyakhirev and Vagit Alekperov. Most originated in the “seamier stratum of black market operators and money changers”.28 Apocryphally the entrepreneurial oligarchs started out with “two empty hands - and two sharp elbows”.29 True, powerful friends were needed. Nevertheless, it is they who long dominated the Forbes list of Russia’s super rich.

No less to the point, the most important oligarchs were gathered together by Putin in July 2000 at the Kuntsevo Dacha (Stalin’s former residence). Putin told them in no uncertain terms to stop meddling in politics: “You can keep what you have … But, from here on out, you are simply businessmen and only businessmen.”30 Those who failed to get “the message” - eg, Russia’s wealthiest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky - were arrested, stripped of the bulk of their assets and/or fled into exile.31 Hence, it was always problematic to classify the oligarchs as a ruling class.

With hindsight, admittedly a great advantage, all three versions of bureaucratic collectivism fail. Obviously, the universal version deserves to sink without trace. The world has neither arrived at bureaucratic collectivism, nor is it heading towards bureaucratic collectivism. The ‘mixed economy’ of the 1950s and 60s was a symptom of capitalist decay and conceding ground to the political economy of the working class. For sure it was not the birth of a new class society. The Soviet Union is no more. China is 60:40 capitalistic. Vietnam is going the same way. Rizzi, Burnham and Carter were therefore badly mistaken. Nor does Shachtman’s unique version of bureaucratic collectivism hold up. The post-1929 Soviet Union was imitated, as a state, in post World War II eastern Europe, China, etc. And, of course, the Soviet Union was not brought down by proletarian revolution in the west. The partial version stands vindicated in comparison, but evidently fails to account for the turn to capitalism as the mainspring of development. Certainly the idea that the Soviet apparatus amounted to a historically constituted class is impossible to take seriously nowadays.

Bureaucratic collectivism, as a theory, has, however, well in the hands of the AWL and their ilk, morphed into a barely disguised social imperialism and the claim that the US global hegemon represents a blunt instrument of historical progress. An abject surrender before the class enemy and a betrayal of the most elementary principles of socialism. Indo-China, Chile, Angola, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and now Ukraine, shows that the US is no longer the bringer even of capitalist civilization. No, instead it brings death, destruction and social retrogression.

Beyond saying that the Soviet Union was neither socialist nor capitalist, bureaucratic collectivism is, in fact, characterised by an inability to dig down and discover the actual workings of the system. The same goes Karl Wittfogel and his Oriental despotism (1957) ... but in spades. Instead of concrete analysis of a concrete situation, we are offered moth-eaten historical analogy.

Taking his cue from Max Weber, Wittfogel argued that China and India were “hydraulic-bureaucratic official states”. Because irrigation and river management were central to economic life, a strong and domineering centralised state power emerged. Private land ownership was weak and non-bureaucratic forces in society were politically impotent.

Wittfogel proceeded to apply the idea to Russia. It was, he said, the Mongol invaders who brought oriental despotism to Russia. Till February 1917 autocratic rulers exercised unchecked power over all social classes. Compared with the west, the east was therefore characterised by an all-encompassing tyranny. However, according to Wittfogel, the democratic promise of the Constituent Assembly was let slip by the timid, moderate socialists. The Soviet Union, in effect, went on to oversee the “restoration” of a medieval oriental despotism, but on a higher, industrialised, basis.32 A theory which influenced the likes of Barrington Moore, George Lichtheim, Maurice Godelier, Rudolf Bahro and Rudi Dutschke.

There exists a little problem, though. The history is a lot more complex. There are good reasons to believe that the tribal Mongols had a relatively limited impact on the much more developed Kyvian Rus.33 Eg, the religious, landownership and the taxation systems. Furthermore, wherever they went the Mongols rapidly assimilated into the host population.

While the Turco-Mongol invasion broke the back of Kyvian Rus, the Moscow principality emerges as the dominant power, first by acting as a Mongolian appanage, then slowly asserting its independence and taking over territories to the south and east previously dominated by the Golden Horde.

Muscovy was heavily influenced by Byzantine when it came to religion, the military techniques of the Mongols were readily borrowed, its tsars based their notions of kingship on the Mongolian khans and the Byzantine emperors, but the social system they presided over was an Asiatic despotism of their own making. Even Peter the Great’s modernising reforms were enserfed to the state and relied on serf labour. Hence “European limbs were transplanted onto an Asiatic torso” (Plekhanov).

Surely, though, the post-1929 Soviet Union needs to be understood with categories that allow us to grasp its specific historic features, laws of motion and the full range of contradictions involved: target-value and use-value, success in quantity and failure in quality, atomisation of the population and lack of control over the product, the leading-edge machine and low productivity, workers’ negative control and the limits to relative exploitation, accumulation and the growth of shortages, the apparatus as Gosplan and the apparatus as management, etc. Crucial, in this respect is the overall global background of a capitalism in decline, a capitalism in transition, a capitalism facing the ever growing power of the working class.

Undoubtedly 1917 was a revolution against tsarist autocracy, peasant land poverty and the remnants of serfdom. But 1917 was also a revolution against an overripe capitalism - a revolution that aimed to bring about world socialism. Of course, without Europe, what was established was never viable. The Soviet Union was an ectopic social formation, a social formation which failed to become an extended mode of reproduction. In other words a freak society which had a past but no future.

Writers such as Chris Arthur and Aleksandr Zimin, but most importantly Hillel Ticktin, advanced such a thesis well before the final collapse.34 The system lasts some six decades. But, despite expectations of a proletarian revolution, there is a falling back into a particularly corrupt and brutish form of capitalism.

  1. T Cliff State capitalism in Russia London 1974, pp162ff.↩︎

  2. VI Lenin CW Vol 27, Moscow 1977, pp293-94.↩︎

  3. ‘Tony Cliff interview’ The Leveller September 1979 (quoted in M Linden Western Marxism and the Soviet Union Chicago IL 2009, p119).↩︎

  4. See J Conrad, ‘Not a workers’ state’ Weekly Worker August 3: weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1454/not-a-workers-state.↩︎

  5. L Trotsky The revolution betrayed New York NY 1980, p248.↩︎

  6. T Cliff State capitalism in Russia London 1974, pp208-09.↩︎

  7. D Purdy The Soviet Union state capitalist or socialist? London 1975.↩︎

  8. P Binns and D Hallas, ‘The Soviet Union: state capitalist or socialist?’ International Socialism January 1976.↩︎

  9. P Binns and M Haynes, ‘New theories of eastern European class societies’ International Socialism winter 1980.↩︎

  10. The US south was “a ‘virtual semi-colony’ of the British to whom it supplied the bulk of their raw cotton” (HJ Fuller Empire, technology and seapower: Royal Navy crisis in the age of Palmerston London 2013, p221). Stalin pictured imperial Russia as a “semi-colony” of Anglo-French imperialism (History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (short course) Moscow 1939, p162). A widely accepted claim: “In a secret memorandum to Nicholas II in 1899, [tsarist minister] Witte characterised Russia as occupying the position of a semi-colonial country, which supplied western Europe with cheap raw materials and agricultural products, while not possessing the abilities to make use of her abundant natural materials in order to develop manufacturing industries” - discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1559904/1/Final%20Thesis%201606.pdf.↩︎

  11. D Hallas, ‘Eastern European class societies’ International Socialism summer 1980.↩︎

  12. T Cliff State capitalism in Russia London 1974, p282.↩︎

  13. Ibid p212.↩︎

  14. See S Boadbetty and P Howleth, ‘Blood, sweat and tears: British mobilisation for World War II’: web.archive.org/web/20201111190216/https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/staff/sbroadberry/wp/totwar3.pdf.↩︎

  15. T Cliff State capitalism in Russia London 1974, p162.↩︎

  16. Ibid pp185-86.↩︎

  17. C Harman, ‘The storm breaks’ International Socialism spring 1990.↩︎

  18. www.marxists.org/archive/shachtma/1950/09/deutscher-stalin.htm.↩︎

  19. Eg, Lucian Laurat (The Soviet economy 1931) and Simone Weil (‘Are we going towards proletarian revolution?’,1933). Laurat, an Austrian left social democrat, argued that the Soviet Union had become a new kind of society. He rejected the contention of Kautsky, Gorter, etc, that Russia was not ripe for socialism - it was, if, the international revolution had happened. Without that, the apparatus developed into a caste, or class, which exploited wage-labourers and extracted surplus value. Weil was a revolutionary syndicalist. She argued that the bureaucracy ruled. A tendency she detected outside the Soviet Union. See M Linden Western Marxism and the Soviet Union: a survey of critical theories and debates since 1917 Leiden 2007, pp69-75.↩︎

  20. B Ruzzi The bureaucratization of the world London 1985, pp50-51.↩︎

  21. Quoted in JM Fenwick, ‘The mysterious Bruno R’ The New International September 1948. See www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/ni/vol14/no07/v14n07-sep-1948-new-int.pdf.↩︎

  22. Eg, the US SWP leader, Joseph Hansen. See J Hansen, ‘Burnham’s Managerial revolutionThe Fourth International Vol 2, No5, June 1941. Cited in en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Burnham#cite_note-27.↩︎

  23. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curtis_LeMay.↩︎

  24. www.enterstageright.com/archive/articles/0304/0304neocontrotp1.htm.↩︎

  25. www.marxists.org/history/etol/writers/carter/1941/09/burcoll.htm.↩︎

  26. M Machover and J Fantham The century of the unexpected London 1979. See bigflameuk.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/unexpected-sec1.pdf.↩︎

  27. See LT Lih, ‘Introduction’ in LT Lih, OV Naumov and OV Khlevniuk (eds) Stalin’s letters to Molotov, 1925-1936 New Haven CT 1995.↩︎

  28. M Goldman Oilopoly: Putin, power and the rise of new Russia London 2008, p58.↩︎

  29. See C Ericson The oligarchs: money and power in capitalist Russia Stockholm 2012.↩︎

  30. B Mezrich Once upon a time in Russia London 2015, p6. Other accounts put the meeting in St Catherine’s Hall in the Kremlin, but what matters is not the location, but the message.↩︎

  31. M Goldman Oilopoly: Putin, power and the rise of new Russia London 2008, pp101-02.↩︎

  32. See K Wittfogel Oriental despotism: a comparative study of total power Chicago IL 1957.↩︎

  33. See NV Riasanovsky, ‘Oriental despotism and Russia’ Slavic Review Vol 22, No4, December 1963; also B Kagarlitsky Empire of the periphery: Russia and the world system London 2008.↩︎

  34. See H Ticktin, ‘Towards a political economy of the USSR’ Critique No1, spring 1973.↩︎