The political method of the International Socialist Organisation

This rprsnts nw dfinitin f clss. It cnfuss th pliticl rgim f scity with cnmiclly dminting clss in tht scity. Cpitlism s n cnmic systm hs hd vrity f pliticl rgims, frm prlimntry dmcrcy t fscism, in which th cpitlist clss hld littl r n pliticl pwr in th stt, yt th cuntry rmind cpitlist. Culd it b rgud tht such stt, in which th wrking clss sizd stt pwr nd dstryd th cpitlist clss, might cd stt pwr t burucrcy in cnditins f bckwrdnss nd isltin, but still rtin th cllctivist ntur f th prductiv frcs?

Ultimtly th tst must b fr Mrxists: ds th cnmy "gnrlis cmmdity prductin" r ds it, s did th Svit Unin, rstrin it? This will idntify th clss ntur f th scity nd th cntxt in which th ntur f th stt will b dcidd. It is clr tht th wrking-clss ws nt in cntrl f stt pwr frm Stlin's tim n, but did this mk th USSR cpitlist cuntry?

prt frm suprficil similritis with th Unitd Stts, th cr IS rgumnt lis in th prssur f militry cmptitin. Th stps t Bllrd's cnclusin wr mr clrly st ut in th IS ppr. It rgus tht th surplus prducd by Russin wrkrs ws ndd t prduc rmmnts t mtch th mricns. "This driv t ccumult cpitl in rdr t cmpt with its rivls is nthing lss thn th lgic f cpitlism" rgus th IS. Th whl f Russi is liknd t gint businss, "Russi Inc".20 <>

prt frm n pprnt cnfusin btwn cmptitin nd xchng vlu, th Svit militry nd t cmpt militrily with th US, which tk but 13 pr cnt f GNP in 198821 <>, clrly hs nt bn rflctd in ny cmptitin btwn Svit nd US wshing mchins nd crs, nr hs it nsurd tht th Svit Unin ddrss th grss vrstffing nd infficincy f its fctris.22 <>

Th IS us f supr-histricl ctgris, which hv n ncssry cnnctin with th rltins f prductin prviling in prticulr cuntry, is mthd tht must b qurid.

Th lgic pprs t b:

 Wrkrs hv n pwr undr cpitlism.

 Wrkrs hv n pwr undr th burucrts.

 Thrfr th burucrts must b cpitlist.

n suspcts tht th dmnds f prpgnd wrk r th driving frc bhind this pic f rgumnt.23 <>

Thr is n nlyticl dynmic in th thry tht prvnts IS prpgnd xtnding th nlgis ndlssly. Th Svit stt cntrl f th cnmy, in rdr t fcus rsurcs n rmmnts, is cmprd withut rsrvtin t Jpn nd Grmny in bth wrld wrs.24 <>

Rbrt Bllrd rvls th inhrnt wknss in his Scilist Rviw rticl whn h cncluds: "rvlutinris must rjct ny id tht th Stlinist rgims wr in ny wy prfrbl t wstrn cpitlism" (my mphsis). This is th substitutin f mrl judgmnt fr n bjctiv clss nlysis. n cn rgu whthr such rgims r prfrbl r nt; th pint is, r thy th sm? judgmnt bsd n mrl prfrncs is pr nlyticl tl.

Whn th IS cnfrnts ppnnts f its viws, it is strngst whn th ppnnt tks thir stnd n th dfnc f th Svit rgims s scilist, nd in th cs f th SWP/DSP, which sw th Grbchv rfrms s scilist rnwl f Svit scity. Th IS critrin f wrkrs' pwr, "scilism frm blw", llws it t mbrrss th SWP/DSP, which ws ffctivly idntifying th scilist cus with Grbchv's ttmptd rfrms. Grbchv's incrsingly uthritrin stnc nd th filur f prstrik md it sy fr th IS t rgu tht this ws nt th rd bck t wrkrs' pwr in th USSR.

Whn cnfrnting viws tht s th USSR s nithr scilist nr cpitlist, but rthr highly unstbl nd cntrdictry frmtin tht ws trnsitinl in its chrctr, cpbl f llwing th rstrtin f cpitlism, but ls vulnrbl t pliticl rvlutin by th wrking clss ginst th burucrcy, th IS is incpbl f brking ut f its mrlistic dichtmy. It is surprising tht th IS s rrly ddrsss th dgnrtd wrkrs stt scnri, givn tht it is th principl rivl viw tht ds nt dfnd th USSR s bing scilist. It is nt until Sptmbr 198925 <> tht Th Scilist ddrsss th prblm. Th IS rgus tht Trtsky ws "frcd" t rgu tht th wrking clss hd t mk th rvlutin ginst "thir" stt t rstr wrkrs' cntrl. This, ccrding t Mick rmstrng, ws bsd n Trtsky's miscncptin tht wrkrs' pwr ws dtrmind by th ntinlistin f th cnmy. In ny vnt, n vidnc is ffrd. Th IS rturns t th subjct26 <> in plmic ginst th SWP/DSP nd its supprt fr th Grbchv ldrship s th gnt f dmcrtic scilist rnwl in th USSR.

Hwvr, th IS lumps th SWP/DSP psitin tgthr with th dgnrtd wrkrs' stt thry f Trtsky nd th Furth Intrntinl, which xplicitly rjctd th rl f Grbchv s hving nything t d with th rstrtin f wrking-clss pwr in th USSR.27 <>

Th sympthy f th IS fr th wrking clss is nvr in dubt, but thy rmv th dilcticl nd scintific hrt frm Mrxism, which ss chng s prcding frm cntrdictin, nd rplc it with mrl stnc tht viws th wrld in fixd, stbl ctgris. T th IS, ithr it is full scilism frm blw, th slf-mnciptin f th wrking clss, r it fils t mt th critri fr scilism nywhr. Furthrmr, it is mrlly bd nd thrfr thr is n diffrnc btwn th cpitlist scitis f th Wst nd th llgdly stt cpitlist scitis f th st.


Stt cpitlism nd th fll f th burucrcy

Th fll f th Cmmunist prty rgims in strn urp in 1989-90 ws tst f th vrius thris f th ntur f ths rgims, nd th pliticl mthd bhind ths thris. Dspit th dmnstrtins nd th striks, prticulrly th Svit minrs'28 <> striks f Jun nd July 1989, nd th lrg numbr f wrkrs n th strt (xcpt in Plnd nd Hungry) during 1989,29 <> th wrkrs prsntd n chrnt prgrm f wrking-clss ppsitin t th dvcts f th mrkt, nd crtinly nthing lik "rvlutin frm blw" r th pliticl wrking-clss rvlutin nvisgd by Ln Trtsky.

Th IS, fr its prt, ludd ch xprssin f wrking clss rvlt nd th thry nd mthd f stt cpitlism ws sid t hv bn cmpltly cnfirmd.30 <>

T th IS th crisis in th st ws just prt f th spcil crisis f th cpitlist systm. Lik th Wst, th st ws ffctd by th flling rt f prfit, but gin, rguing by nlgy, w r tld tht this ws xprssd by flling grwth rts.31 <> Stt cpitlism nd th fr mrkt r sn s tw sids f th sm cin.32 <>

Th IS sw n ssntil diffrnc btwn th pr-1989 rgims in strn urp nd th fr-mrkt rgims tht fllwd thm. It ws nly "stp sidwys", ccrding t ln Rintul.33 <> Th IS my cknwldg tht nithr ptin is rlistin f wrking-clss intrsts, but it limints ny undrstnding tht th wrking clss, lthugh it hs n intrst in dfnding th Cmmunist prtis nd thir rul, ds hv stk in dfnding crtin prtctins, r vn gins, by th wrking clss undr tht systm. Jb scurity, subsidisd fd nd husing nd stbl currncy r fw f th bvius ns.

Th IS rspns ls undrstimtd th significnc f glsnst, which it sw nly s prpgnd djunct t prstrik, but glsnst hd mr imprtnt ffcts. It llwd pliticl criticism f th pliticl mnply f th CPSU nd its privilgs. It sw th mrgnc f indpndnt wrking-clss ctivity (th minrs' striks fr xmpl) nd strngthnd dmnds fr indpndnc by th pprssd ntinlitis. Th rpid dcy f burucrtic rul prcdd t th pint whr th ruling "clss" in Hungry culd, in ctbr 1989, vt t disslv itslf withut witing fr n nslught f ppulr rvlt.34 <>

This pprntly uniqu bhviur by suppsd ruling clss, in bdicting pwr, shwd tht unlik th cpitlist clss in th Wst, th burucrcy rstd nly upn brittl frm f rul thrugh th pliticl mnply f th Cmmunist Prty. nc this wnt, s it did in rly 1990, th dys f th burucrcy wr numbrd. It hd n thr lng-trm ptins. Cmpr this with uphvls in th Wst, which cn bring nrmus chng in th frm f pliticl rul withut th cnmic nd scil dminnc f cpitl bing disturbd.35 <> This is th pint: tht th dminnc f th burucrcy flwd lmst xclusivly frm its pliticl cntrl, nd nt frm its cnmic nd scil dminnc f scity. Such rsning ws nt cnsidrd by th IS.36 <>

Th indqucy f th stt cpitlist psitin t giv ny undrstnding f th vnts f 1989-91 flws frm its dtrmintin thrughut its histry t s n diffrnc btwn cpitlism nd "stt cpitlism". Th vnts f 1989-90 nd sinc, prticulrly in trms f th living stndrds f th wrking clss, wuld ppr t cntrdict this viw.

vn s lt s pril 1989 th IS ws stting tht th crisis in strn urp ws just prt f th spcil crisis f th cpitlist systm, nd n diffrnt t th criss in Chin nd Chil (sic),37 <> lthugh it nts sm diffrncs, such s th mss f unprfitbl ntrpriss tht wuld nt hv survivd in th Wst, but which, until th fll f Grbchv, wr fct f Svit lif.38 <> It lswhr cknwldgd tht prfitbility ws nt fctr in prductin in th USSR.39 <> Th IS clrly ss such diffrncs, with thir bvius ffct n th wrking clss, s f littl significnc bcus t d s wuld b t rcgnis th incrsingly bvius diffrncs btwn stt cpitlism nd cpitlism. This ds nt imply, s th IS suggsts, prfrnc fr ithr ltrntiv.

In Rintul, in n rticl titld Is Cpitlism Bing Rstrd in th Svit Unin?40 <> shws th dilmm th IS is fcing. ccrding t Rintul, th intrductin f th mrkt int th Svit Unin ds nt mn rstrtin f cpitlism bcus cpitlism run by th stt ws intrducd in th lt 1920s. T Rintul, wht mttrs "is nt th prprty frms but th rltins f prductin-wht prtin th wrkr hs in th prcss f prductin".

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