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State Capitalism in Russia Paperback – 11 Oct 1974

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pluto P.; 2Rev e. edition (11 Oct. 1974)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0902818511
  • ISBN-13: 978-0902818514
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 13.2 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,632,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 Nov. 2001
Format: Paperback
This book, in its earlier version, was a breakthrough in socialist analysis of the USSR. It demonstrates that Stalinism was an exploitative society based upon the expropriation of the workers. It therefore had nothing to do with socialism as so many opponents and apologists claimed. This enables a socialist practice entirely free from the taint of stalinism, and a reconfirmation of socialism as a politics of human liberation.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
This book is vital to understand the former Soviet Union. 20 Jan. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Cliff's book clearly shows that Soviet Russia was not socialist. Workers there had no control over society or their own lives. What existed was a form of state capitalism. Cliff explains that only a new revolution could bring socialism.This book is vital to understand the way forward for the working class movement since the fall of so called Communism.It throws aside the pessimism of much of the left.It places workers self activity at the heart of socialism.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A brilliant book to understand stalinism 14 Nov. 1997
By s_alternatif@hotmail.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Tony Cliff's book "State Capitalism in Russia" first published in 1947.. When the stalinizm in "golden age" after the II. War... He shows why we must describe stalinst Russia as "state capitalist" country.. And also he shows the alternative: Socialism from below..
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Very clear, well argued, easy to read, but its truth is uncertain 21 Dec. 2003
By mianfei - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The establishment of numerous satellite states in Eastern Europe after World War II gave the radical left numerous problems. In these Eastern European nations, the Red Army installed new regimes that were completely subservient to the orders of Moscow - involving trials and murders of all dissidents and the development of a military industrial complex, which the radical left had always wanted to overthrow. Under such conditions their support of marxism was very questionable.

"State Capitalism In Russia" (originally written as "The Nature Of Stalinist Russia") deals with exceptional clarity with the argument of Trotsky that Russia was still a Marxian workers' state because the property was nationalised.

Cliff was simple and forceful in his argument that a complete counterrevolution had occurred in Russia during the 1920s when Stalin rose to power. He shows using available government statistics that whilst most resources up to Stalin's triumph in the 1920s were devoted to improving the living standards of the Russian masses, from the time of the Five-Year Plans, all these resources were transferred into the hands of the bureaucracy. As Cliff sees it, this bureaucracy accumulated vast resources through exploitation of the Russian working class, in the process building a military-industrial complex that aimed directly to compete with market capitalist nations in the West for production of the most powerful weapons. Stalin saw this as the only way to protect the USSR, but in fact the only way a socialist regime could have survived was via the overthrow of the Western ruling classes and seizure of their vast internationally accumulated profits.

Cliff shows clearly how much better off for wages the Russian masses were under Lenin than under either the Tsar or Stalin and, as a prerequisite for this, how much higher a proportion of production was devoted to consumer rather than capital goods under Lenin.

At the same time, Cliff clearly shows how oriented Russian laws were to protecting the power of the bureaucratic ruling class. A perfect example is the exceptionally regressive turnover tax system, which the radical left have likened to the tzxes in developed nations on consumption that disproportionately affect the poor. Marxism advocated the use of steeply progressive taxes on income and inheritance and abolishing all indirect taxation.

Cliff is similarly clear about how his theory of state capitalism explains what had actually occurred in Eastern Europe since 1945: new ruling classes had been established on the Soviet model by parties merely calling themselves "Communist": workers had no control over the means of production.

Cliff's theory of state capitalism explains the Soviet ruling class' actions in the years after World War II very well because understanding the bureaucracy as a capitalist ruling class explains their desire to compete with the West. Cliff is also very clear in his view that only a genuine workers' revolution could produce a genuine socialist system where the needs of the masses take precedence over the enrichment of the wealthy.

Many reader, however, find the idea of Lenin's Russia as a model for workers' liberation dubious.

Whilst Cliff does clearly demonstrate major differences between Lenin's and Stalin's Russia (so do mainstream historians), the view that socialism eliminated chivalry in warfare is interpreted very differently on the right - that Lenin himself with the Cheka eliminated it. the size of the Cheka, according to Soviet archives, was so large that claims by the radical left that the Whites were responsible for the carnage of the Russian Civil War are dubious. This in itself makes claims of Stalini's counterrevolution less clear than Tony Cliff himself would like them to be. It also makes one question whether Leninism was the model for workers' power I was taught it was as a young student at Melbourne University.

This is a very good book, but it's claims really need to be tested against evidence from a truly opposing side - and the mainstream centre never does that.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant analysis of the Soviet Union 25 Dec. 2010
By John Winters - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The late Tony Cliff's book provides a Marxian analysis of the post-Lenin Soviet Union, showing how what emerged in the aftermath of the revolution's decline was not a workers' state but instead a state capitalist economy every bit as exploitative as liberal capitalism. It's a shame this book is out of print because the past few years have amply shown the continued relevance of struggles for socialism from below.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
not based on reality! 15 July 2014
By C - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
overall simple a trotskyite distortion of reality,the authors broadly claim that the degeneration of the revolution in 1917 was not inevitable or the consequence of bolshevik authoritarianism--this is simple false based on the historical record.i recommend maurice brintons 'the bolsheviks and workers control 1917-21',it can be bought on amazon or found for free on libcom.This book outlines how the bolsheviks began to dismantle soviet power approximately 3 days after seizing power,by curbing the soviets independence and submitting them to the rule of the party,it also outlines how the bolsheviks went to great lengths to stop the national coordination of the economy by the factory committees and eventually successfully destroyed them,thereby completly destroying the socialist institutions of russia,this was all SIX MONTHS before the civil war so marxists cannot use the war as an excuse saying these measures where necessary,overall these essays are ideological distortions to back up trotskyite theory--not based on reality!
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