Bureaucratic collectivism

Bureaucratic collectivism

Bureaucratic collectivism is a theory of class society. It is used by some Trotskyists to describe the nature of the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin, and other similar states in Central and Eastern Europe and elsewhere (such as China and Cuba).Fact|date=June 2007

As in state capitalism, a bureaucratic collectivist state owns the means of production, while the surplus ("profit") is distributed among an elite party bureaucracy, rather than among the workers. Also, most importantly, it is the bureaucracy - not the workers or the people in general - who controls the economy and the state. Thus, the system is not truly capitalist, but it is not socialist either. It is a new form of class society which exploits workers, in Marxist theory, through new mechanisms. Most who hold this view believe that bureaucratic collectivism does not represent progress beyond capitalism - that is, that it is no closer to being a workers' state than a capitalist state would be, and is considerably less efficient. Some even believe that certain kinds of capitalism are more progressive than a bureaucratic collectivist society.

"Bureaucratic collectivism" was first used as a term to describe a theory originating in England, shortly before the First World War, about a possible future social organisation. After the war, the Russian Revolution and the rise of Stalin, Hugo Urbahns and Lucien Laurat both began to critique the nature of the Soviet state in a similar manner. Their theory was probably first named "bureaucratic collectivism" by Christian Rakovsky.Fact|date=June 2008

This theory was first taken up within Trotskyism by a small group in France around Yvan Craipeau. It was also taken up by Bruno Rizzi, who believed that the Soviet, German and Italian bureaucracies were progressive and celebrated "the class which has the courage to make itself master of the state". It was with Rizzi that Trotsky debated in the late 1930s. Trotsky held that the Soviet Union was a degenerated workers state and that if it did not undergo a new workers' political revolution, it could move towards a new form of society, such as bureaucratic collectivism. However, Trotsky doubted that a state of "pure" bureaucratic collectivism would ever be reached; he believed that, in the absence of a proletarian revolution to return the Soviet Union to socialism, a comprehensive counter-revolution would return the nation to capitalism instead.

Soon after the Workers Party in the USA (later the Independent Socialist League), led by Max Shachtman, split from the Fourth International, it adopted the theory of bureaucratic collectivism and developed it. As a result, it is often associated with Left Shachtmanism and the Third Camp. Its version had much in common with Craipeau's, as developed by James Burnham and Joseph Carter, but little with Rizzi's.

The theory of bureaucratic collectivism was maintained by socialists such as Hal Draper, and is now held by sections of Solidarity in the USA and Workers Liberty in the United Kingdom and Australia.

George Orwell's famous novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four" describes a fictional society of "Oligarchical Collectivism". Orwell was familiar with the works of James Burnham having reviewed Burnham's "Managerial Revolution" prior to writing "Nineteen Eighty-Four".Fact|date=June 2008

External links

* Leon Trotsky [http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1939/09/ussr-war.htm "The USSR in War"] (1939)
* Max Shachtman, [http://www.marxists.org/archive/shachtma/1940/04/ussrwar.htm "The Soviet Union and the World War"] (1940)
* Leon Trotsky, [http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1940/04/finnish.htm "Balance Sheet of the Finnish Events"] (1940)
* Tony Cliff, [http://www.marxists.org/archive/cliff/works/1948/xx/burcoll.htm "Marxism and the theory of bureaucratic collectivism"] (1948)
* Pierre Frank, [http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/writers/frank/1951/12/3rdcamp.htm "Under Pressure of the Coming War, Imperialism Beckons 'Third Camp'"] (1951)
* Ernest Mandel, [http://www.ernestmandel.org/en/works/txt/1979/soviet_bureaucracy.htm "Why The Soviet Bureaucracy is not a New Ruling Class"] (1979)

ee also

Other theories regarding Stalinist and Soviet-style societies:
*Degenerated workers state
*New class
*State capitalism
*State socialism

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Collectivism — For the magazine, see Collectivism (magazine). Collectivism is any philosophic, political, economic or social outlook that emphasizes the interdependence of every human in some collective group and the priority of group goals over individual… …   Wikipedia

  • Collectivism — • The term is sometimes employed as a substitute for socialism Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Collectivism     Collectivism      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Socialist Workers Party (Britain) — Infobox British Political Party party name = Socialist Workers Party party articletitle = Socialist Workers Party (UK) party leader = Collective leadership (Central Committee) foundation = 1950 / 1977 ideology = Revolutionary socialism,… …   Wikipedia

  • Max Shachtman — (pronounced /ˈʃɑːktmən/; September 10, 1904 – November 4, 1972) was an American Marxist theorist. He evolved from being an associate of Leon Trotsky to a social democrat and mentor of senior assistants to AFL CIO President George Meany.… …   Wikipedia

  • Tony Cliff — (May 20, 1917 – May 9, 2000) was a Trotskyist revolutionary activist. Born Yigael Gluckstein in a Jewish Zionist family in Palestine, he eventually changed his name to Yg al (Yg al: Will Redeem ; Yigael: Will Be Redeemed ), although in later… …   Wikipedia

  • Degenerated workers' state — Part of a series on Trotskyism …   Wikipedia

  • Socialism — This article is about socialism as an economic system and political philosophy. For socialism as a specific stage of socioeconomic development in Marxist theory, see Socialism (Marxism) …   Wikipedia

  • New class — Part of the series on Communism …   Wikipedia

  • Bureaucracy — is the structure and set of regulations in place to control activity, usually in large organizations and government. As opposed to adhocracy, it is represented by standardized procedure (rule following) that dictates the execution of most or all… …   Wikipedia

  • Third camp — The third camp, also known as third camp socialism or third camp Trotskyism, is a branch of socialism which aims to support neither capitalism nor Stalinism, by supporting the organised working class as a third camp .Leon Trotsky described the… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.