- Bureaucratic collectivism
Bureaucratic collectivism is a theory of class society. It is used by some Trotskyists to describe the nature of the
Soviet Unionunder Joseph Stalin, and other similar states in Central and Eastern Europeand elsewhere (such as Chinaand Cuba).Fact|date=June 2007
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' statethan 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 Urbahnsand Lucien Lauratboth began to critique the nature of the Soviet statein 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
Trotskyismby a small group in Francearound 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 Trotskydebated in the late 1930s. Trotsky held that the Soviet Union was a degenerated workers stateand 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 revolutionto return the Soviet Union to socialism, a comprehensive counter-revolutionwould 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 Burnhamand 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 USAand Workers Libertyin the United Kingdomand 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
* 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)
Other theories regarding Stalinist and Soviet-style societies:
Degenerated workers state
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