Tsushimafs Theory of gState Capitalismh
- The Limits of Wishful Theories of "Socialism"
Written by Hiroyoshi Hayashi (1992)
Translated by Roy West
Tsushima Tadayuki's theory of state capitalism has special significance
in Japan as a groundbreaking criticism of Soviet "socialism".
This important historical significance lies not only in the condemnation
of the Soviet Union for "not being socialism", but in firmly
insisting on its bourgeois character and proclaiming a theory of state
capitalism. In this sense, he was the first "leftwing" theorist
in Japan to attempt to break through the internal limitations of Trotskyism,
and his standpoint is directly connected to the position of the Socialist
Workers Party (Japan) [Sharoto].
Nevertheless, his perspective was fundamentally unable to overcome the
horizon of Trotskyism, and remained limited by it. Here we will clarify
the limitations within Tsushima's theory and its "errors" (in
the sense of their inevitability, rather than as something random), but
this certainly does not deny the historical significance of Tsushima's
theory. There is simply no comparison between his theory and the "USSR
theory" of JCP leaders such as Miyamoto Kenji and Fuwa Tetsuzo in
terms of its rich and serious content. Here we will examine Tsushima's
criticism of the Stalinist theory of "distribution according to the
quantity and quality of labor" in connection to his examination of
"labor certificates"; followed by a consideration of the essential
contradictions of Soviet state capitalism. Finally, we will look overall
at Tsushima's theory. The quotations here are all taken from Tsushima's
Soren shakaishugi no hihan [A Criticism of Soviet "Socialism"]
(Tokyo: Rironsha, 1959).
The gSublationh of the Labor Certificate System And the gDetermination
The typical expression of the theoretical limitations of Tsushima's theory
is his emphasis on the significance of the labor certificate system; that
is, his attack on the Stalinist concept that "labor should be distributed
according to quantity and quality". He argues that distribution according
to the "quantity of labor" cannot occur under socialism, since
this is the principle of distribution under capitalism, and will "inevitably
lead to the world of value." Tsushima provides the following reason
Here it must be pointed out that the Stalinists' famous anti-Marxist formula
of "distribution in accordance to the quality of labor" (i.e.
mental labor and physical labor, and skilled and unskilled labor) contains
not even one single element of Marx's labor certificate system...According
to Marx, "the distribution of the means of livelihood of every producer
is determined by his labor time", and hence there is no distinction
made between mental and physical labor in the sphere of distribution. This
is because skilled or mental workers do not necessarily "work more
in a given period of time, or continue to work longer" than unskilled
and physical workers. If an objective distinction between them were to
be made, this would inevitably require the introduction of the value of
labor-power. Without this no objective distinction can be made. For example,
compared to unskilled workers, skilled workers do not necessarily "work
more in a given period of time, or continue to work longer". Nevertheless,
if a distinction were to be drawn between the two, the latter is a higher
grade of labor. This is because more labor time (education costs) was consumed
to produce this labor, and this is taken into account on the level of distribution.
Therefore, needless to say, what has to be calculated is not the worker's
living labor, but the labor-power objectified in his labor-power (the labor
expended in the production of the worker's means of livelihood), i.e. the
value of labor-power. (Incidentally, in a society of commodity production,
the products of skilled labor have a higher value than those of unskilled
labor. This is because, as Marx says: "All labour of a higher, or
more complicated, character than average labour is expenditure of labour-power
of a more costly kind, labour-power whose production has cost more time
and labour than unskilled or simple labour-power, and which therefore has
a higher value. This power being of higher value, it expresses itself in
labour of a higher sort, and therefore becomes objectified, during an equal
amount of time." [Capital p. 305] The above distinction itself, on
the precondition of the law of value, introduces the abstract human labor
(value of labor-power=wage labor category) objectified in labor-power.
Without this, it would impossible to introduce these elements.
[Tsushima, Soviet Socialism, pp. 29-30.]
Tsushima also quotes a passage from Engels where he argues that since the
costs of training skilled labor under socialism would be born by society,
instead of privately, these workers would have no right to demand extra
compensation, and that this would belong to society. He then criticizes
the view of Suzuki K?ichir? that Engels' passage is referring to the second
stage of socialism, i.e. communism.
Despite Tsushima's good intention of pointing out that under socialism
distribution should not be carried out according to skilled and unskilled
labor, this is mere confusion. For example, he says that skilled labor
or mental labor do "not necessarily carry out a larger amount of labor
in the same time or continue for a longer time" than unskilled or
physical labor. But if this were so, skilled and unskilled and mental and
physical labor would not exist under socialism. However, for Tsushima their
existence itself forms his premise. Engels' point is not that these categories
themselves do not exist. He recognizes that such categories would naturally
exist under socialism, and only denies that they would receive more in
Tsushima's insistence that the capitalist law of value would not determine
socialist distribution in any sense only reveals his own misunderstanding
of the law of value. The principle of distribution under socialism is basically
that one gets back (that which is produced in) the labor time contributed
to society (apart from the necessary deductions to society). (Or, to borrow
the words from Marx's Critique of the Gotha Programme: "the same quantity
of labour he puts into society in one form comes back to him in another".[Marx,
Critique of the Gotha Programme, p. 213.] According to this principle,
it does not run counter to the essential concept of socialism to say that
skilled labor would receive more than unskilled or simple labor, but what
does in fact deny such distribution under socialism is the fact that under
socialism such skilled labor, or high-grade labor, itself is made possible
through societal costs, not personal expenses. Therefore, the owners of
such skilled labor-power no longer have a basis to receive extra payment,
but this does not mean that their labor-power is not skilled labor. This
occurs even though their labor-power is skilled or high-grade labor. Thus,
under socialism distribution is directly and simply based on labor time,
and consequently the external aspect of this society is complete and clear
equality. But this is not unconditional- i.e., in a sense this is also
a question of the "quality" of labor (the "quality"
of labor reduced to quantity).
Tsushima argues that under socialism the concept of the value of labor-power
naturally cannot exist, and that introducing the concept of skilled labor
would necessitate the concept of the value of labor-power, which itself
presupposes the world of value, thus leading away from the essence of socialism
(since socialism is clearly the "extinction of the world of value").
But here Tsushima confuses the qualitative and quantitative aspects of
value. Certainly labor-power does not become a commodity under socialism.
Nevertheless, the fact that high-grade labor is high-grade labor, is similar
to the fact that even though general commodities become simple products
of human labor under socialism, their "value determination" (the
fact or aspect that they are the outcome of abstract social human labor)
does not disappear. If this were also to be eliminated, socialist society
would lose all basis for a standard of distribution of products (consumption
goods) as well as the basis for the "planned economy" (the concept
related to the overall reproduction of society), and would become a completely
random and haphazard society, an inhuman society, where people would lose
sight of all social existence and activity. Under socialism, "labor-power"
is an actual concept, and thus the distinction between high-grade (complex)
labor and other (simple) labor is also a real one. Of course, it is true
that skilled and high-grade labor substantially lose their meaning. However,
to completely overcome this requires the second stage of communism which
Lenin calls the "higher stage" of socialism.
Tsushima's view that abstract human labor is a concept that only corresponds
to commodity production is one-dimensional. He does recognize that the
concept of abstract human labor, in a certain sense, remains under socialism,
but he only views this as a "remnant" or as something formal
without any essential meaning. He seems to agree with the views of the
Stalinists instead of Kuruma Samezo.(*) For example, he supports the view
of the German Communist Party expressed in 1931 (note the date!) that,
"under socialism the law of value perishes, along with abstract labor
which is the substance of value."
(*) Kuruma Samezo (1893-1982), a well-known Japanese Marxist economist
well known for his research on Marx's theory of crisis, and editor of the
15 volume Marukusu keizaigaku rekishinkon [Marx's Economic Lexicon].
To state my own personal conclusion: in general, the question of the role
of abstract human labor in a communist social structure does not become
an issue. But it is a fact, that in the distribution relations of its lower
stage (socialism), it cannot avoid playing an "indispensable role".
Still, this exists as a remnant of the old commodity production society,
not as something communistic. As the communist social structure develops,
all of the remaining categories of commodity production society are eliminated.
Thus, my personal view is the following. First of all, does abstract human
labor really "play an indispensable role" in the 'planned production'
the communistic social structure, whether in the first or second stage?
Of course, if one progressively abstracts in one's head, all people are
engaged in this kind of abstract human labor, and in this sense includes
the entire human world. Abstract human labor in the sense of the "content
of the value determination" is certainly a fact of "natural law".
However, the problem does not consist of this. The question is whether
or not this abstraction plays a certain social role. In other words, the
question is whether this abstraction exists or not in the sense that a
certain society would not be able to exist without it-to borrow the words
of Marx: "an abstraction that occurs daily in the process of social
production".[Tsushima, pp. 53-4.]
After citing Engels' well-known statement in Anti-Duhring that "[p]eople
will be able to manage everything very simply, without the intervention
of much-vaunted 'value'"[Engels, Marx/Engels Collected Works vol.
25, p. 295.] , Tsushima says:
Here to say that "value remains even within communist society",
refers to the so-called "content of value regulation" (the regulation
of labor time, and the distribution of social labor to different productive
sectors), not the law of value. Therefore, in this case the "useful
effects of the various articles of consumption, compared with one another
and with the quantities of labour required for their production, will in
the end determine the plan" [Anti-Duhring, p. 295]. Here Engels uses
the expression "their production". But labor in this case is
"specifically concrete labor whether that of the joiner, spinner or
mason" (Marx). More than society, this presupposes the existence of
a certain labor population. But the establishment of planned production
is impractical from only the labor population, and already must appear
as "specifically concrete labor whether that of the joiner, spinner
or mason". Of course, if one abstracts from this concrete labor in
one's mind, abstract human labor can appear and be included. "When
labor is realized it of course has a concrete form. But prior to this it
is labor-power as the potentiality which can take many forms." (Kuruma)-This
is probably the case, but this abstraction itself does not play any social
role, and therefore does not enter the question as a social action. The
problem is whether this abstraction is necessary or not as a social action.
Otherwise, there is the question of whether this society can be realized
or not. This is a question of whether it is a historical category or not.
But even in the first stage of communist society, not to mention the second
stage, such an abstraction is not necessary. In the case of planned production,
the starting point is the total concrete labor, and this is sufficient.
There is no question here, as in commodity production society, of society
being unrealizable without social acts as an "abstraction".
[Tsushima, p. 55.]
Of course, it is incorrect to say that under socialism (the lower stage
of communism) abstract labor gplays an indispensable role in the distribution
relationsh. Marx and Engelsf repeated many times that in production labor
time plays a decisive role.[See ENDNOTE 1.] In Anti-Duhring, Engels writes:
It could never occur to [society] still to express the quantities of labour
put into their products, quantities which it will then know directly and
in their absolute amounts, in a third product, in a measure which, besides,
is only relative, fluctuating, inadequate, though formerly unavoidable,
for lack of a better one, rather than express them in their natural, adequate
and absolute measure, time.
Moreover, it should be clear that to "measure" this, i.e. to
"express the quantity of labor in time", requires either the
"reduction" to abstract human labor (social labor in which quantity
is the same and only the relative difference of "quantity" is
noted) or its actual existence.
Tsushima primarily discusses labor from the perspective of "abstracting"
or "being abstracted". He only discusses the "reduction"
or "abstraction" of abstract human labor in reality or "in
one's mind", but pays almost no attention to its real existence. However,
under capitalism, abstract human labor, in this sense fundamentally social
human labor, is already a real existence (for example, consider the overwhelming
existence of simple labor). Socialism starts from this precondition. In
socialist society "there is no need, as in commodity production society,
for social acts as an abstraction" since this is presupposed in reality.
Abstract human labor is certainly not just an abstracted concept within
one's "head" (Tsushima should consider what this means exactly).
In other words, it is not an empty concept or human fantasy or construct,
but a real, existing thing. This is the reason that we can abstract from
within reality the actual relations or one aspect or moment, and create
this concept. This is the concept of something real. Basically, this is
the nature of the relationship between a concept and reality. If an "abstraction"
is considered from the materialist standpoint, no other conclusion can
be reached. The labor objectified in the commodity is concrete useful labor,
on the one hand, and abstract human labor on the other, and in this manner
is already thoroughly social labor. This is the essential aspect of human
labor under capitalist society, and socialism is based upon this realty,
rather than being its simple negation or abandonment.
Tsushima would probably equivocate and say that he understands what we
have just said (of course he really does not), and argue that the question
is whether or not this "abstraction" is necessary for socialism
or related to its real existence. He thinks that it is possible to think
of socialism, i.e. conscious collective production of associated producers,
without this sort of "abstraction". However, as soon as the concept
of "aggregate labor" appears and the problem arises of where
(sector of production) to distribute labor, the problem of the quantity
of labor also arises, regardless of one's desires, and socialism cannot
avoid this problem. The quantity of labor is a question of abstract human
labor. Tsushima seems unable to understand the simple fact that the quantity
of labor can only be comparatively measured or assessed as abstract human
labor. He misunderstands Engels' use of the word "directly" (i.e.
he doesn't understand the meaning of labor not assuming the form of "value").
He is unable to understand the meaning of concrete useful labor, and therefore
abstract human labor as well. He confuses the two and this results in all
sorts of difficulties. Tsushima says that the labor population alone is
not enough for the establishment of "planned production" (what
confusion!). But it is clear that in order to determine the quantity of
labor to distribute as "specifically concrete labor, whether that
of the joiner, spinner or mason", the problem is clearly one of the
quantity of labor, i.e. the "labor population".
Under socialism, society would need to evaluate how many people are needed
for "joining, spinning, or masonry", and this is only possible
by evaluating labor in its aspect as abstract human labor. Tsushima, who
is unable to understand this point, has an incorrect understanding of abstract
human labor, as well as concrete useful labor. He basically imagines a
strange, phantom-like capitalist society (and socialist society), in which
abstract human labor lacks its moment, and there is only concrete useful
labor. In this way, labor does not exist as social labor, but only as individual,
arbitrary and unsocial labor. However, even if such labor were in fact
possible, this would be completely unrelated and irrelevant to socialism.
Tsushima carelessly believes that socialism is the simple negation of capitalism,
but socialism is in fact the sublation (a negation that preserves its positive
features) of capitalism, not its simple negation. Socialism starts from
the basis of the thorough transformation of labor into social labor achieved
by capitalism, and without this precondition, socialism, realistically
speaking, is impossible. What did Tsushima learn from the breakdown of
Soviet "socialism"? Where does he look for the basis or cause
of this breakdown? Where else could this collapse be located except in
the fact that labor did not become thoroughly social labor, and was hence
not transformed completely into abstract human labor. In other words, there
was a lack of heavy industry covering a wide-stratum of the society. Tsushima's
explanation of the labor certificate system also contains serious mistakes.
He criticizes the views of John Gray, Robert Owen, as well as Kuruma Samezo
in the following passage.
However, one additional point concerning 'labor certificates' which merits
attention is that they cannot be circulated in exchange for any kind of
goods. There are probably some who think this. For example, some might
think that labor certificates will be like rewriting 1,000 yen, 100 yen
or 10 yen bills as 1,000 labor hours, 100 labor-hours or 10 labor hour
notes, but this is mistaken. Labor certificates are literally speaking
a type of certificate (translating this term as "labor securities"
is not good because it calls to mind some sort of value body) As Marx said:
"The individual labour time of the individual producer is the part
of the working day in society contributed by him, his share of it. He gets
from society a receipt [labor certificate] that he has contributed such
and such an amount of labour?cand withdraws from society's stores of the
means of consumption an equal amount costed in labour terms" [Critique
of the Gotha Programme, p. 213]. This is a certificate for each person
to recognize that they produced this amount of labor and can thus receive
a certain amount of goods. This certainly cannot be exchanged for some
kind of article and circulated.
[Tsushima, p. 67.]
(In criticism of Kuruma) I cannot agree with the idea that the above are
"exchanged" or "that the difference is only an indication
of labor time as it is"; for example the idea that labor certificates
can be exchanged or circulated, or that they can be called labor time notes
of a certain amount of time.
[Ibid., p. 71.]
It is a matter of course that labor certificates are not notes (i.e. currency
or money" in general), but because of his fixed idea that individual
labor should not be evaluated or expressed in labor time, he views Kuruma's
opinion as an explanation of money. This reveals that Tsushima essentially
does not understand the labor certificate system, and that he is completely
unable to understand the expression of the value of the commodity in commodity
production society, or the "measure" of value through money.
It is complete nonsense to go so far as to say that labor certificates
are different from "labor time notes". In labor certificates,
the amount of an individual's is directly, and from the beginning, expressed
in labor time. It is clear that when Kuruma insists on this, he is not
thinking that labor certificates would circulate, etc. Tsushima, however,
is unnecessarily worried that if labor time were expressed, this would
be a "note" capable of circulating. But if there were no production
or circulation of commodities, what would determine the circulation of
"labor certificate notes", or whatever one wishes to call them?
This is completely absurd. Making this sort of unintelligent statement
is deeply connected to Tsushima's denial of the essence of socialism, i.e.
the significance of the concept of abstract human labor. In fact, without
understanding abstract human labor, one cannot avoid misunderstanding the
significance of the labor certificate system. This is because the contribution
of individuals to society includes a certain quantitative expression, and
this is nothing but an expression connected to abstract human labor.
Tsushima writes a great deal about the labor certificate system, and insists
that its realization is the criterion to determine whether socialism has
been realized in a certain society or not. This is the entire basis of
his criticism of Soviet "socialism". Still, one could hardly
say that he has correctly understood the significance and essence of labor
certificates. Therefore, in addition to stating the obvious fact that the
labor certificate under socialism "is not money", he says that
it is not a certificate of labor time either. Tsushima ends up spreading
the upside-down idea that the labor certificate system is not the outcome
of the realization of socialism, but rather its premise or cause (e.g.
he says that socialism is the "labor certificate system" stage
of the communist social structure). Therefore, he becomes absorbed in the
"needless worry" that if one says "labor-time certificates"
they will become "money". The "labor certificate system"
is thus absolutized in the strange form of a fetish or dogma.
gDistribution According to Quantity and Qualityh
Tsushima discussed Marx's Critique of the Gotha Programme with Sakisaka Itsuro. Naturally, the concepts of Sakisaka, who glorifies the contemporary USSR
as socialism and reduces socialism to a mechanical equality, are idealistic
and moralistic, not realistic or scientific. However, this does not mean
that the following view of Tsushima is necessarily correct:
Sakisaka seeks the reason for "the rule of unequal principles by means
of formal equality" in the idea that this "this applies to originally
unequal ability and unequal need" (allotments corresponding to intensified
labor in the same period of time)."But this is not the meaning Marx
intended. "The right of the producers is proportional to the labour
they contribute; the equality consists in measurement in terms of a common
standard, labour" (Marx). In other words labor-time is the measure.
When this measure is used it appears at a glance to be equal, but in fact
leads to some inequality in distribution. This is because labor time is
the measure of equality, but "[t]his equal right is an unequal right
for unequal labor" [Critique of the Gotha Programme, p. 214], and
an equal amount of time and labor are not necessarily contributed. Despite
using the equal measure of labor time, or rather for this very reason,
this leads to some inequality. Sakisaka totally fails to understand this.
He says that it is not possible for "one person to receive more than
[Ibid., p. 82-3.]
Tsushima says that the equality of socialism "appears equal at a glance",
but it is not true equality which can only be achieved with the "abolishment
of "the rights of producers in proportion to the labor a person contributes",
and when "labor is distributed 'according to need' irregardless of
the contribution of labor". In other words, "true equality"
cannot exist under socialism, but only under communist society (socialism
appears to be no big deal?). But why did Tsushima not proceed to the realization
that under communism the very concept of "equality" itself is
jettisoned? Moreover, socialism is not "seemingly equal at a glance",
but the very incarnation of equality, and in a sense true equality (i.e.
all of the people become workers and are equal as such, and as a result
all exploitation, rule, oppression and social discrimination in human relations
comes to an end). Tsushima does not grasp the great historical significance
of this, and this is a fatal flaw in his theory.
Tsushima is opposed to the Stalinists' distribution according to the "quantity
and quality of labor" since it is in opposition to Marxism. He emphasizes
that socialism is a principally equal society. Moreover, he believes without
doubt that the Stalinists are the bearers of state capitalism and thus
an exploiting class. Unquestionably, this is a principled position. However,
he one-sidedly argues that since the law of value is sublated in socialist
society, the category of skilled labor cannot exist and distribution consequently
cannot be carried out according to the "quality" of labor. He
exposes the Stalinists, but he does not, and indeed is unable, to criticize
them correctly. Skilled and high-grade labor exist in reality in the Stalinist
society? Considering this fact, shouldn't Tsushima accept the reasoning
of the Stalinists that since skilled labor exists it is necessary to compensate
it with higher salaries?
Understanding the sublation of the law of value as a problem of overcoming
the "quality of labor" (a question of the category of abstract
human labor and therefore a question of the categories of simple and complex
labor), and consequently as the sublation of skilled labor, is a confused
theory. Even in socialist society, in a sense, the distinction that Tsushima
calls distribution according "quality of labor" remains. But
this is essentially reduced to the quantity of labor, and thus follows
the general principle governing distribution under socialism. Under socialism,
the differences in distribution due to such differences as skilled labor
become increasingly insignificant, and eventually end all together, because
the cost of training skilled and high-grade labor is born by society, and
the foundation for skilled labor to receive more in distribution is eliminated.
There are also the cases where a person performs simple labor at one time
and complex labor at another time, but, as a general principle, regardless
of the "quality" of labor, everything is distributed equally.
Of course, here the "quality" of labor refers is a question of
quality in the sense of whether labor is simple or complex or skilled,
and is not a question of useful concrete labor.
Under socialism, distribution is determined by labor time, and this is
also the case for skilled labor as "intensified" labor which
is theoretically included. Tsushima cannot deny that skilled labor still
remains under socialism. But this is hardly ever, or never compensated
for under socialism because the form of skilled labor is already completely
one part of the social outlays, and therefore society, rather than the
individual, receives its benefits. Of course, in socialist society distribution
would be as equal as possible, but this would not mean the elimination
of all distinction between workers or a mechanical equality. Socialist
equality is nothing but "equality as workers".
Tsushima claims that because the "law of value does not operate"
under socialism, the "reduction" of complex labor to simple labor,
or skilled labor to unskilled labor would also not occur. We need to criticize
this line of reasoning. According to Tsushima, the disappearance of the
law of value, i.e. labor-power as a commodity, would mean the end of distribution
according to the "quality of labor" (in this case the distinction
between complex and simple labor and the distribution based upon this).
However, this view is incorrect, since complex and simple labor would remain
even if the commodity form of labor-power were abolished (the sublation
of the law of value). Even though socialism is a society with greater equality,
this does not mean that the categories of complex and simple labor just
disappear, or that it can be viewed from the perspective of coming close
to "average-ism" [heikinshugi]. The foundation of the "average-ism"
of socialism is the end of classes, and the "equality of everyone
as workers"; this is the limit of equality. For human history, of
course, this represents a decisive step forward and a monumental transformation.
Tsushima does, on the other hand, recognize:
Even if specialists or factory managers receive 40-80% more than unskilled
workers, this does not necessarily represent a relationship of exploitation.
This is because the skilled labor of specialists or managers is able to
produce more value in one hour than unskilled workers.
[Ibid., p. 246.]
But he doesn't think that this is in contradiction with his own theory.
He doesn't understand that what he is referring to is the same as the "reduction"
of skilled labor to unskilled labor, or complex labor to simple labor.
The relationship between complex and simple labor under capitalism is certainly
mediated by the value of labor-power. However, even under socialism, complex
labor is still intensified simple labor and is therefore "reduced"
to simple labor. Of course this increasingly loses significance in distribution,
because the cost of training complex labor is borne by society rather than
the individual, and society in general increasingly becomes based on the
principles of equality. Still, in terms of the organization of social production,
this remains a necessary category and continues to have significance. For
example, in social production, the evaluation of the amount of workers
or technicians is done by evaluating labor-power (the labor population)
according to the "quality" of labor, i.e. "quality"
in the sense of the distinction between complex and simple labor.
It is doubtful that Tsushima truly understands the reason why the value
(wage) of complex labor is higher than the value of simple labor-power
under capitalism. The reason, as Marx pointed out, is that it contains
more "training costs", that is more value is "objectified"
in it. The wage is the price expression of the value, and it is natural
that the higher the value the higher the price. There is no doubt that
labor-power only appears as a commodity under capitalism, but the important
point here is not the concept of the value of labor-power, but rather the
explanation of why complex labor-power is higher than that of simple labor-power.
Marx found that complex labor-power was the result of more social labor-power
than simple labor power. In other words, the question is not the "law
of value" as Tsushima believes, but what Marx calls the "determination
of value". Thus, complex labor (power) can naturally be "reduced"
to simple labor (power), and it would indeed be strange if it could not.
For Marx, the relationship between simple and complex labor-power is basically
the same, since the manifestation of complex labor is intensified simple
labor, or labor squared.
Therefore, it is an empty "leftist" theory to conclude from the
fact that the "law of value doesn't operate" under socialism
that "complex labor cannot be "reduced to simple labor"
under socialism, or that the concepts of complex and simple labor would
not even exist". Socialism, for instance, recognizes human labor as
simple labor, i.e. abstract human labor, or "only labor", and
in a sense the organization of socialist production starts from this point.
Furthermore, the recognition of the category of simple labor is equivalent
to the recognition of complex labor. To maintain consistency, Tsushima
is compelled to deny not only complex labor, but also the concept of simple
labor (therefore abstract human labor) under socialism, and thus socialism
is turned into something completely non-conceptual. Socialism either becomes
a utopianism, or is dissolved into the higher level of communism. The essence
of socialism as socialism, its particularity, is lost, and the result is
Even supposing that differences in income between skilled and unskilled
labor were to remain, this would mean that the society is not socialist,
i.e. that classes and class conflict remain. In this case, the fact that
skilled labor is intensified labor, and thus receives a greater part of
distribution, would not contradict the socialist principle of distribution
of labor according to time. Of course, if skilled and unskilled workers
would possess the means of production together, this would not be a situation
with the bourgeoisie owning the means of production on the one hand, and
the wage labors alienated from these production means on the other. However,
as socialism develops and "high-grade" labor-power is no longer
the outcome of individual expenditure, but rather is borne by the community,
the part viewed as longer labor time would return to society, not to the
individual, and thus the differences between skilled and unskilled workers
would diminish, and then finally disappear. This in turn would mean that
the higher stage of communism was being reached.
The fact that Soviet society was unable to establish an equal society,
and instead returned to the "non-egalitarianism" where bourgeois
specialists (i.e. high-grade labor power, skilled labor power!) were paid
higher salaries, and a piece-wage system was even introduced, is not merely
a "theoretical" error or the "transitional policy"
of a workers' state, but the inevitable outcome of state capitalism. The
internal systematic demand to thoroughly exploit the working people and
achieve the forced accumulation of capital, made the Stalinists' barbaric
and atrocious methods necessary. This is not a question of whether the
Stalinists understood Marxist theory or not, or what might have occurred
had they not existed. Of course, Tsushima is perfectly justified in attacking
the Stalinism for being "non-egalitarian" and a tool of "state
capitalism" opposed to the essence of socialism. Tsushima for example
makes the following declaration:
In Anti-Duhring Engels says that "with the differences in distribution, class differences
emerge"[p. 136]. Since 1931, with the implementation of a widely unequal
wage system, all of the class differences appeared, and the dictatorship
of the proletariat changed into a bureaucratic dictatorship. Along with
these changes, the distribution of the material production conditions (distribution
of means of production) also, in the name of "nationalization",
automatically changed from "the possession of the workers themselves"
to the "possession of the bureaucracy", and these changes in
material production conditions also set the decisive conditions for changes
in distribution and class differences, and led to their greater promotion.
Of course, one cannot deny that class differences appear as differences
in distribution, but what fundamentally determines class are the relations
of production, and differences in distribution are merely the outcome of
this. Here Tsushima seems to be saying that distribution, not production
relations, determine the concept of class.
Stalin began to attack "egalitarian" distribution and defend a system of discriminatory wages around 1931. At the time, there was a great deal of migration of labor-power, particularly skilled workers, but since skilled and unskilled labor was evaluated in the same way, skilled workers wandered around in search of enterprises that would value their labor. In order to prevent this, Stalin held the position that the principles of equality had to be rejected. Stalin attacked the "uniform workers" and gave preferential treatment to skilled workers, and appealed for the Soviet Union to have an "intelligentsia" with "engineers, technicians, and industrial leaders". From this point, the attack on "egalitarianism" in the Soviet Union was intensified.
[See ENDNOTE 2.]
Of course, if one presupposes that the Soviet Union is a socialist state,
Stalin's position appears stupid. However, this shows that skilled labor
was unavoidable in the Soviet Union, and it is incorrect to only negate
this inside one's own head. This cannot be denied, even if one defines
the USSR as a "transitional state". Therefore, it is an even
more inescapable reality in state capitalist society. Before exposing that
Stalin's theory is "mistaken", the fact that the USSR is in reality
capitalism must be revealed.
By insisting on the distinction between skilled and unskilled labor, and
making use of the irrational and ambiguous expression of "distribution
according to the quantity and quality of labor", the Stalinists (state
capitalist bureaucrat bourgeoisie) were able to justify their extraordinary
income (ten to one hundred times greater than that of an average worker),
which was obtained on the basis of the exploitation of the workers. But
one must be careful not confuse this ideological masquerade and the distinction
itself. These are two separate issues, and this distinction would remain
even if the rule of the state capitalist bourgeoisie were overturned, at
least in the early period of socialism. This certainly would not mean the
disparity of incomes that actually exists in the Soviet Union, or the extreme
gap between the ruling class and workers under state capitalism, but this
might, for example, mean a ten or twenty percent difference in distribution,
because the principle of socialism is distribution according to labor time.
As Marx pointed out in Critique of the Gotha Programme:
But one person is physically or mentally superior to another, and hence
contributes more work in the same time or can work longer; and labour in
order to serve as a measure, must be defined by its duration or intensity;
otherwise it would cease to be a standard. This equal right is an unequal
right for unequal labour. It acknowledges no distinctions of class, because
everyone is a worker just like everyone else, but it tacitly recognizes
unequal individual talent and hence productivity in labour as natural privileges.
Therefore, in content this is a right to inequality, like all rights. By
its nature a right can only consist in the application of a common standard;
but unequal individuals (and they would not be different individuals if
they were not unequal) are only commensurable in terms of a common standard,
if they are brought within a common purview, grasped only in terms of a
specific aspect, e.g. considered in a given case only as workers, and nothing
else about them is taken into account, all else being disregarded.
Furthermore: one worker is married, another not; one has more children
than another, etc. etc. Given equal productivity and hence an equal share
in the socialized resources for consumption, one worker will in fact receive
more than another, be richer than another. To avoid all these faults, rights
would have to be unequal, instead of equal.
[Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme, p. 214.]
What Marx is referring to here is mainly the "unequal labor"
as the "rights of birth", but with the addition of a few necessary
revisions, this proposition could also apply to the case of skilled and
unskilled labor. Even if skilled workers work the same amount of hours
as unskilled workers, the former can "contribute more labor in the
same period of time" since their labor is "intensified labor",
or "squared" simple labor. Abstracting out the question of how
skilled labor is formed, it has the right to greater compensation. Of course,
the "labor time" of skilled labor here is reduced to simple or
unskilled labor, and thus does not directly exist as the labor time of
At the end of this passage, Marx says that rights would have to be unequal
instead of equal. It is not exactly clear from this passage whether Marx
is saying that in socialist society rights must be unequal. That is, whether
the compensation of all workers should be made more uniform through social
considerations. However, it is certain that Marx is at least advising that
some correct response should be taken, on the basis of careful consideration,
to the existence of inequality even when distribution is carried out according
to labor time (i.e. it is not correct to ignore this fact and behave in
a completely insensitive or careless manner).
Fundamental Contradictions of State Capitalism and The Direction of the
Tsushima's theoretical defect is characteristically expressed in his mechanical
understanding of state capitalism. He abstracts the Soviet Union and other
such systems as "integral" state capitalism. But what exactly
is "integral" state capitalism? The issue here is the system
of Soviet state capitalist and its fundamental contradictions. In other
words, what is the relationship between state capitalism and crisis (or
the deadlock of this "system")? This is the question of the contradictions
of state capitalism, and the nature and form of their appearance. This
gets to heart of the problem of how state capitalism develops and its contradictions
deepen, the nature of its breakdowns, and what transformations it will
undergo. In other words, what is the fate of state capitalism? Tsushima
approaches this central question by first comparing the views of Tugan-Baranovsky*
and Bukharin, and so we will also need to engage with their ideas for a
while. Tsushima says, for example, that state capitalist society corresponds
precisely with the views of Tugan-Baranovsky and is his "ideal country",
and calls his mind "a reflection of the Russian economy":
Lenin said that "state capitalism is something centralized, calculated,
controlled and socialized" [Collected Works vol. 27, p. 294.] and
that state capitalism and socialism had something in common in terms of
national calculations. In Stalinist Russia, however, "social production
was organized in a planned way" irrespective of quality. This was
suitable for Tugan- Baranovsky.(*) Furthermore, standards of individual
consumption were extremely low, but instead of causing a crisis of overproduction,
production was rapidly developed. In other words, this was the ideal state
for Tugan- Baranovsky. He says that long as production is organized according
to a plan, production can be developed, within the limits of productive
capacity, without causing a crisis of overproduction, but this ideal state
for Tugan- Baranovsky is in fact Stalinist Russia! The correctness of Tugan-Baranovsky's
theory of accumulation and crisis was demonstrated by Stalinist Russia!
Tugan- Baranovsky died in 1919, but what would his reaction have been had
he lived until the Stalinist era!
[Tsushima, p. 262.]
(*) Mikhail Tugan-Baranovsky, one of the "legal Marxists" in
Russia before the revolution.
According to Tugan-Baranovsky, Marx's mode of reproduction shows that accumulation
(expanded reproduction) can smoothly progress forever without experiencing
capitalist crisis. His theoretical motive is the thorough rejection of
the so-called "theory of underconsumption" to explain the cause
of crisis. He thus concludes from the analysis of Marx's mode of reproduction
that, "an expansion of social production can be seen at the same time
as a reduction in social consumption, and this does not cause a disturbance
in the equilibrium between social demand and supply."(Translated from
Japanese edition of Tugan-Baranovsky, Eikoku ky?fu shi ron [A History of
Crisis in England] (Tokyo: Nihon Hy?ronsha, 1931), p. 124.) He even accuses
Marx of being charmed by the theory of underconsumption. The typical representation
of Tugan- Baranovsky's view is the following passage:
If one studies the capitalist economy from the perspective of the mode
of reproduction, one invariably reaches the conclusion that "markets
are not determined by the size of social consumption". Social production
exists not only in the objects of consumption, but in the means of production.
If machinery replaces workers, the social demand for objects of consumption
will naturally decrease. However, the demand for the means of production
will in turn increase. Likewise, if the income of capitalists is turned
into capital rather than consumed, the demand for the objects of consumption
will decrease, while this will lead to an increase in the demand for the
means of production. As a general principle, when social production is
relatively well distributed, the decline in consumption and demand for
objects of consumption does not bring about an excess in supply over demand
in the market.
[Ibid., p. 127.]
Tugan-Baranovsky is correct to say that social demand is not determined
solely by individual consumption, or the total amount of social income.
Certainly, as he says, social demand can be rapidly increased by capital
accumulation, i.e. an increase in the demand for means of production. Still,
his understanding of Marx's mode of reproduction is totally mechanical.
He directly replaces machines for workers, but the theoretical task concerning
the mode of reproduction is the question of how social production and reproduction
are carried out overall, and for this purpose machines (means of production)
must be assumed to be reproduced as machines. By raising the example of
workers being replaced by machines (i.e. the tendency under capitalism
for the organic composition of capital to constantly rise), he depicts
a capitalism in which machinery is increased and workers decrease. This
does not necessarily correspond with the reality of capitalism. In fact,
the accumulation of capital and the transformation of surplus-value into
profit leads not only to an increase of constant capital, but also the
increase of variable capital, which means the inevitable growth the working
class. Naturally, this does not lead to the expansion of department I [means
of production] and decline in department II [consumer goods], but rather
the expansion of both departments. Tugan-Baranovsky's view is basically
nonsense, and ultimately reaches the following extreme conclusion:
If all the workers except one disappear and are replaced by machines, then
this one single worker will place the whole enormous mass of machinery
in motion and with its assistance produce new machines-and the consumption
goods of the capitalists. The working class will disappear, which will
not in the least disturb the self-expansion process of capital. The capitalists
will receive no smaller mass of consumption goods, the entire product of
one year will be realized and utilized by the production and consumption
of the capitalists in the following year.
[Quoted in Tony Cliff, State Capitalism in Russia, p. 238.]
Therefore, he concludes that crisis cannot occur through under- consumption.
Nevertheless, if a crisis were to break out, he says this "would not
be because of an insufficient number of consumers, but because under conditions
of capitalism, the equilibrium of distribution is completely unrealizable."
Under capitalism, this equilibrium can be reestablished by weeding out
the excessive expansion of companies through crisis. This is indeed the
cause and significance of crisis for Tugan-Baranovsky
First of all, however, crisis does not concern the extent of consumption.
Secondly, although a break in the "balanced distribution of production"
is a crisis, for capitalism the disequilibrium between consumption and
production is not simply an absolute disequilibrium, but rather a manifestation
of the various moments and contradictions of capitalist production, and
therefore only one of many kinds of disequilibrium that inevitably occur
under capitalist production.
Tugan-Baranovsky claims that if equilibrium could be maintained, capitalism
might continue eternally without crisis or collapse, and the accumulation
of capital and replacement of workers with machinery, could also continue.
For him, the exploitation and poverty of the working masses is not essential.
However, the accumulation of capital and the replacement of workers with
machinery are certainly not the same thing. The former is the increase
of workers, while the latter a decrease, or the absolute decline of workers.
If one imagines capitalist development to take the latter form, this has
nothing in common with the actual process. What's more, if the ultimate
figure of capitalist accumulation is a single worker operating an immense
machine, and producing all of the wealth of society, this is indeed an
odd concept resulting from an abnormal way of thinking. Workers would never,
or could never, conceive of such an image of the outcome of capitalism,
and instead imagine the future of capitalism and their own fate in terms
of the continuous increase in workers and the combination of their own
Tsushima says that Tugan-Baranovsky's theory demonstrates that if capitalism
were planned and organized, it could rapidly grow without the experience
of crisis or stagnation. The low level of consumption of the working masses
would in no way prevent this rapid development. This is indeed the ideology
of state capitalism, and is an explanation that fits perfectly with the
historical process of the Soviet Union and its relations of production.
Of course, Tsushima emphasizes that Tugan- Baranovsky's theory is incorrect
because production can develop in isolation from consumption only "relatively"
and "to a certain degree", and ultimately is restricted by consumption.
Tsushima expresses approval for Tony Cliff's definition of state capitalism
in its "Tugan-Baranovsky stage". This is the idea the Tugan-
Baranovsky dogma has some meaning in economically backward countries, where
the accumulation of the means of production is limited and the "the
paramount need of the economy is the production of machinery in order to
produce more machinery"
[Cliff, State Capitalism in Russia, p. 241.]
However, Tsushima argues that Tugan-Baranovsky's theory is mistaken, and
production is ultimately restricted by consumption, hence state capitalist
countries such as Russia will also be unable to avoid crisis. The reason
no crisis appeared in the USSR, according to Tsushima, is that it was still
in the "Tugan-Baranovsky stage" where the accumulation of the
means of production is extremely low and so there is a great potential
for continued accumulation. According to this argument, crisis could also
break out under Soviet state capitalism if this accumulation would reach
a certain limit, and the means of production arrive at the "point
of saturation". For Tsushima, enormous military spending is one reason
that this is avoided, but nonetheless Soviet state capitalism, like "liberal"
capitalism" cannot avoid crisis. Even if a crisis were prevented,
the country's economic growth, as Bukharin says, would be limited and stagnate.
Tsushima says that if development is at a low stage, or to borrow his phrase,
"the saturation point of the production means" has not yet been
reached, crisis will not appear. Of course, it is true that in cases of
incomplete capitalistic development, the breadth and width of a crisis
is not complete, and takes on something of a random appearance (e.g. crisis
at the beginning of the nineteenth century), but this is still the appearance
of a crisis, and moreover periodically reoccurs. To understand the problem
of crisis, and thus the character of capitalist production and the basis
of its contradictions, in terms of the inevitability arrival at the "saturation
point of production means", reveals an incorrect understanding of
the fundamental character of capitalist development.
According to Tsushima's view, overproduction is an excess over individual
consumption, and appears as the "saturation point of the means of
production", but overproduction also appears as the general overproduction
of capitalist commodities, not merely as the "saturation point of
the means of production". The use of the expression of a "saturation
point of the means of production" exposes the fact that the Tsushima
(=Cliff) standpoint boils down to a "theory of under- consumption".
It is characteristic that Tsushima generally speaks of a "crisis of
overproduction". Crisis certainly appears as overproduction, but in
general overproduction is not a crisis. To say that overproduction is underconsumption,
and thus to seek the cause of crisis in their direct comparison basically
resembles underconsumption theories of crisis.
Tsushima also discusses the Bukharin model of state capitalism, which he
learned from Tony Cliff. Bukharin's name appears here because in Imperialism and the Accumulation of Capital (1925), he argued that in the system of state capitalism (not Soviet state
capitalism, but "state capitalism" in developed countries such
as Germany) crisis would definitely not occur because production is organized
from the "standpoint of capital" which is ultimately coordinated.
According to Bukharin , in such countries "there is no particularly
fast development of production"
[Bukharin, Imperialism and the Accumulation of Capital, (London: Allen
Lane The Penguin Press, 1972) p. 226.]
Tsushima highly regarded Bukharin's theory, and said that it could be applied
at a certain stage of state capitalism. Tsushima does say that under capitalist
relations of production the fundamental cause of crisis is underconsumption,
but he is not necessarily free from the spell of this theory. By saying
that production is ultimately limited by consumption, and explaining crisis
and social development from this perspective, he claims that state capitalism
is generally a "stagnant (dormant) society". "I think that
the Soviet bureaucratic state capitalism, principally or originally speaking,
internally possesses the nature to become like the Bukharin model."[Tsushima,
p. 276.] Tsushima says that the "Bukharin model" (dormant model)
comes into being at a "certain development stage" of state capitalism".
On the other hand, however, he claims that state capitalism in general
is this Bukharin model of dormant capitalism. For Tsushima, crisis under
state capitalism is avoided because of the planned economy, and up to a
certain stage it is possible for "production for the sake of production",
i.e. production isolated from consumption, to expand. However:
The development of the means of production also has a limit, and if this
limit is surpassed it can be predicted that surplus production will necessarily
occur and the tempo of the "plan" will drop, In short, this would
come close to the Bukharin type of state capitalism (dormant state capitalism).
Cliff says that "Bukharin's description applies to state capitalism
which reaches saturation point in the means of production" [Cliff,
p.242]. At this point, the contradiction between productive power and the
relations of production emerges and is intensified.
[Tsushima, p. 274.]
Tsushima then sums up the views of Tugan-Baranovsky and Bukharin in the
Tugan-Baranovsky seeks the "solution" of the contradiction between
production and consumption in the separation of the two sides. Accumulation
is seen as being able to develop rapidly and unlimitedly in complete independence
from individual consumption (as long as it is organized and within the
limits of productive capacity). This is the exact opposite of Bukharin's
view of accumulation under state capitalism. He seeks the "solution"
in slowing down the tempo of accumulation. For him, accumulation is possible,
but its tempo is relatively slow. Production must therefore be "planned"
in order to keep pace with individual consumption (of workers as well as
capitalists). However, since this level of individual consumption for the
working class as wage workers cannot extend beyond a certain limit, even
if this is increased it will generally be low. A rise in the "consumption
of capitalists", and increase in their purchasing power, can be "the
motive power for production and for the production plan", but since
"the number of capitalists is small", one cannot expect too much.
Therefore, unlike the Tugan-Baranovsky model, "there is in this case
not a specially rapid development of production" (but the ideal models
of Bukharin and Tugan-Baranovsky both concur that crisis can be eliminated.
[Ibid., p. 272-3.]
By indicating the prospect of general stagnation in Soviet society, Tsushima
makes an insight into the contradictions of state capitalism, but instead
of concretely explaining these contradictions on the basis of the particularities
of state capitalism, he only "applies" a theory of capitalist
contradictions in general (from the one-dimensional viewpoint of the theory
of underconsumption) to state capitalism. In other words, he "dissects"
Soviet state capitalism with a type of underconsumption theory. His theory
is essentially defective since it fails to evaluate the salient characteristic
of state capitalism as capital, i.e. the fundamental limitations as capital.
In state capitalist society, capital exists as state capital. In other
words, it does not exist as "free" capital under conditions of
general competition, and this shows, in a sense, it lacks something essential
for capital. This is a decisively important point for the evaluation of
Tsushima basically clings to an evaluation of the tempo of state capitalist
development on the basis of the criterion of whether or not it will reach
a "saturation point" at some point in time. In other words state
capitalism is seen as being essentially "production for the sake of
production" and able to develop productive power without restrictions
from consumption, but this "production for the sake of production",
as Lenin points out, is ultimately restricted by consumption, and is thus
necessarily relative. Nevertheless, this is the theory that even though
a limit will be reached at a certain stage (this will lead to either crisis
or general economic stagnation), this "saturation point of the means
of production" is still quite far away since the Soviet Union is a
developing country and it will therefore be able to carry out rapid economic
development. The idea is that once this "saturation point" is
reached, state capitalism will likely fall into general stagnation. This
sort of theory regards capitalist development as being determined by the
reciprocal relationship between the accumulation movement of capital (production
for the sake of production), on the one hand, and the limited consumption
of the working masses, on the other. In this sense, Tsushima is standing
upon the theory of underconsumption.
Tsushima criticized the underconsumption theories of Sismondi and Rosa
Luxemburg for directly juxtaposing the accumulation movement of capital
with the underconsumption of the masses. He thinks this juxtaposition is
necessary, but should not be made directly, and ultimately should be viewed
as an indirect, or "ultimate" problem. Consequently, the contradictions
and limitations of capitalism, according to Tsushima, clearly stem from
the consumption limits of the masses, and this is also said to be the case
for Soviet state capitalism. In fact, these contradictions are said to
appear even more pronounced under state capitalism since it signifies the
exploitation of even more of the working masses.
The Tugan-Baranovsky model, for Tsushima, was a type of state capitalism
necessary in the Soviet Union because the USSR "began on the basis
of a low level of productive power", but this model is viewed as inevitably
running into the deadlock of overproduction. (This overproduction is said
to not be the "panic" particular to capitalism, and is conceptually
defined as a strange sort of constant and systematic overproduction). For
this reason the Tugan-Baranovsky model became impossible, and the tempo
of the "plan" was forced to slow down, leading to "stagnant
state capitalism" (the Bukharin model of state capitalism). For Tsushima,
Bukharin-style state capitalism appears as the typical "model",
whereas the Tugan-Baranovsky model appears under certain conditions and
is only a particular form.
Although superficially this may seem to account for the history and current
situation of the Soviet Union, Tsushima's view is in fact a dogma. Certainly,
Soviet state capitalism did turn into "stagnant state capitalism",
but this was not due to the emergence of systematic overproduction (we
do not know what this means exactly), the consequent "slowing of the
tempo of the plan", or the suppression of the impulse towards the
unlimited development of the productive power of state capital. Rather,
it would be closer to the truth to say that the result was the exposure
that state capitalism did not have such an impulse. State capitalism fell
into general stagnation because state capital's impulse as capital was
weak and fundamentally suppressed. Therefore, the "only" solution
was not the direct shift to Tsushima's forced socialism, but rather "economic
liberalism", i.e. the emancipation of state capital as capital.
An economy of state control is more functional and effective than a "liberal"
economy when it is necessary to mobilize all of the economic, social and
human power latent within a country to achieve certain goals within a short
period of time, for example war or rapid economic development. In the case
of Soviet history, such periods were the civil war (1918-1921), the economic
construction of the thirties, and the war in the first half of the forties
to defeat Hitler. However, such economic systems are inherently impermanent.
"Wartime communism" could not avoid dissolution under the passive
and active resistance of a wide stratum of the peasantry (i.e. petty bourgeoisie).
The historical role of the Stalinist forced economy of the thirties came
to an end along with the end of the Second World War, but its life was
extended by the "Cold War". The shift from the state capitalism
of the Stalinist system to a different system was already an objective
necessity at the end of the fifties with Khrushchev's rise to power. Khrushchev
began to "liberalize" a number of sectors, starting with agriculture,
but this was nothing more than a beginning.
The system of state capitalism became a barrier to the further development
of capital because it denied the free movement of capital, and thus prevented
a lively and rapid development of thorough bourgeois "rationalization".
The consequent naked exploitation and repression of a wide stratum of working
people also leads to the development and intensification of class struggle.
A system that was advantageous under certain conditions can become reactionary
and anachronistic under a different set of conditions.
However, this is a conclusion that could certainly not be reached by means
of the Tsushima (=Cliff) theory. Our conclusion exposes the fundamental
failure of the Trotskyist call for a "supplementary revolution"
(a purely political revolution), since this sort of "supplemental
revolution" was in fact not the origin of the revival of proletarian
rule or the shift to socialism, but instead the starting point of the movement
of Eastern Europe countries and the Soviet Union towards becoming typical
An evaluation of Tsushimafs Theory
The basis of Tsushima's criticism of Soviet "socialism" is seen
in the following passage:
What is the standard with which to discuss the "revolutionary transitional
period"-the "transitional period" to real socialist society
(first stage of communism)? Politically this is the end of classes and
class differences, and therefore the dissolution of the dictatorship of
the proletariat; economically this is the appearance of the "labor
certificate system" in distribution.
[Ibid., p. 18.]
It is one-dimensional to say that the "labor certificate" is
the economic "index" of the appearance of socialism. The economic
"index" of socialism, fundamentally, is the overthrow of the
rule of capital, the abolishment of private property, the establishment
of social communal ownership of the means of production, the elimination
of the wage labor system, the sublation of class, and therefore the abolishment
of commodity production and money. Only as a result of this does the "labor
certificate" system come into operation in distribution. In other
words, even though it isn't incorrect to say that the appearance of the
"labor certificate" is an economic index of socialism, this is
a trivialization of the meaning of socialism. Understanding socialism simply
(or primarily) in terms of distribution relations, rather than the relations
of production is a petty bourgeois viewpoint. Moreover, although it is
not incorrect to say that the extinction of class is just a "political
index", this is problematic because it blurs the fact that the essence
of socialism lies in the social and production relations. Tsushima, at
times, is aware of this. For instance, in many places he emphasizes that
socialism in the "sublation of the law of value". For instance,
The fundamental characteristic of a socialist economy is common labor relations
on the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, therefore
the abolishment of the law of value and its replacement with a socialist
planned economy. Anyone who doesn't recognize this is certainly not a Marxist.
[Ibid., p. 23.]
Tsushima also recognizes that socialism requires a high developmental level
of productive power:
In terms of the common ownership of the means of production, the relations
of common labor, and the abolishment of the law of value and wage labor
relations (the commodification of labor-power), there is no difference
between the first and second stages of communism. Consequently, they both
can be included within the same communistic social structure. But the biggest
difference between them is that in the first stage (socialism), this system
of labor certificates is used in distribution. This is the reason that
we say that this labor certificate system is the greatest economic index
of socialism. The shift from wage labor or a transitional stage of the
labor certificate to the system of labor certificates is, along with the
dissolution of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the decisive indication
that socialism has arrived.
[Ibid., pp. 24-5.]
Tsushima introduces labor certificates from the perspective of the distinction
between the first and second stages of communism, rather than in terms
of the importance of distinguishing between capitalism and socialism-communism.
In other words, the labor certificates are necessary in the first stage,
but in the second stage they would already be abolished, and thus the main
characteristic of the first stage of communism, i.e. socialism, is the
labor certificate system. However, Tsushima should first raise the question
of how to distinguish between capitalism and socialism. This is the necessary
way to raise the question, because the pressing issue today is capitalism
or socialism, not the first stage of communism or the second stage:
Lenin held the view: state capitalism first, and then the transformation
of state capitalism into socialism. Did Stalin's government achieve this
transformation? This is generally being declared, but this is a complete
lie and political myth. The truth is the exact opposite. Stalin only achieved
the construction of a massive state capitalism. Moreover, what merits the
greatest attention is that whereas state capitalism in Lenin's period promised
to naturally develop into socialism, in Stalin's period this transformation
could not be expected without a "second supplementary revolution"
(Trotsky's expression). Stalin succeeded in constructing a gigantic state
capitalism, while at the same time suffocating socialism to death.
[Ibid., p. 43.]
Of course, there is a great deal of confusion in what Tsushima is saying
here. First of all, he dogmatically says that in Lenin's period, state
capitalism promised to turn naturally into socialism, but what exactly
does "promised" mean? Lenin saying this, and this being objectively
"promised" are two entirely different things. No one would say
that the fullest development of commodity production and capitalism would
"promise" a natural transformation into socialism, because the
opposite case would be more naturally assumed. Even adding the phrase "under
the dictatorship of the proletarian", does not amount to a historical
materialist theory. In history the fundamental thing is not human (or party)
will or desire. To grasp the main motive force of history as will or desire
is the characteristic of idealistic conceptions of history, not Marxism.
The construction of Stalin's state capitalism and the "suffocation"
of socialism was a necessity, not simply the result of Stalin's actions.
One cannot say that this would not have happened if Lenin had been around.
One could probably say that another type of state capitalism might have
been built, but one cannot say that Lenin would have been able to build
For Tsushima, one major reason that the possibility for Soviet state capitalism
to turn into socialism was "cut off" was due to Stalin calling
state capitalism "socialism". It is a truism to say that the
advance from state capitalism to socialism was completely extinguished
because state capitalism was called socialism. However, this sort of logic
is formalistic, and is only idle talk that stems from an inability to understand
and recognize the internal necessity of state capitalism even while employing
this term. This is the idea that state capitalism was established by chance,
and could turn into socialism depending on the will of Lenin or Stalin.
Tsushima draws a clear line between himself and Trotsky, but on the most
fundamental questions he reveals his own neo-Trotskyist nature.
Tsushima says that "there is no possibility that the Soviet Union
would revert back to private capitalism" because it already was capitalist
and would thus have no reason to turn into capitalism again. According
to him, the USSR is state capitalism, and moreover capitalism advanced
to an extreme. This is an insufficient understanding of the particular
historical character of state capitalism. He doesn't consider the fact
that while the Soviet Union is capitalism, it is "state capitalism",
and therefore there is the possibility that it will progress or shift,
although not "revert", to "private capitalism". Tsushima
says that the bureaucracy in the Soviet Union "under the mask of 'communism',
were a state capitalistic bourgeoisie as the product of the final stage
of capitalism". For him, the USSR is a "thorough and complete
state capitalism" a "completed state capitalism", a "100%
state capitalism", in distinction from the typical sense of state
capitalism developed from private capitalism. For example, he claims that
the United States and other countries are "incomplete state monopoly
capital", but the Soviet Union is "more complete state monopoly
capital" . This view only blurs the distinction between state capitalism
and state monopoly capitalism, and reduces it to simply a difference of
quantity or degree. Tsushima's representative view is the following:
[Ibid., p. 208.]
In Russia, overall nationalization was certainly a product of the October
socialist revolution, which made it possible and determined its content.
Furthermore, the content of this initial overall nationalization was the
communal ownership of the workers. Consequently, the October revolution
was a socialist revolution. However, how did this change under the Stalinist
regime? In the case of overall nationalism, this was probably intensified.
But, at the same time this was substantially changed, with the communal
ownership of the workers being weakened.
The state capitalism as the final stage (of capitalism) which Engelsf
refers to (in Socialism: Utopian to Scientific) is something which is formed from a gradual development from ordinary
monopoly capitalism. Therefore, in this case 100% state capitalism is difficult.
The Stalinist regime, apart from a few differences and particularities,
conforms to so-called 100% capitalism, or what Trotsky calls "integral
state capitalism". This is formed in fact in the transitional period
of a proletarian revolution in backward countries, under certain conditions
as a decisive transformation (counter-revolution).
[Ibid., p. 210.]
Tsushima argues that in the internal development of private capitalism,
a "100% state capitalism" cannot occur, but "if a counter-revolution
occurs after a proletarian revolution (especially in an economically backward
country), there is a full likelihood that this will occur in the counter-revolutionary
process." Thus, the establishment of state capitalism in the USSR
is viewed as the result of "counter-revolution". He says that
Marx and Lenin were not able to predict this metamorphosis, which was a
completely new phenomenon. Of course, the arbitrary judgment that the Stalinist
socio-economic system was the result of "counter-revolution"
amounts to a denial of the historical inevitability and foundation of state
capitalism, and runs counter to Tsushima's theoretical premise and other
positions. He often recognizes the historical inevitability of state capitalism
to a certain extent.
Since state capitalism was necessary in the Soviet Union, the Stalinist
system cannot be said to be the result of "counter-revolution".
Due to the low productive power, a lack of heavy industry, the overwhelming
power of the peasantry and the underdevelopment of the working class, state
capitalism was unavoidable, and a victorious Stalinism was formed as its
so-called "superstructure". But Tsushima, together with Trotsky,
raises the notorious "wishful" outlook of history, according
to which state capitalism in Russia could have been avoided had Stalin
been defeated in the factional struggles and the counter- revolution not
According to Tsushima, there was a possibility for Stalin to be overthrown.
In other words, "counter-revolution" in the USSR was not inevitable,
and the "workers faction" might have been victorious. This period
is said to be around the 13th Party Congress in May 1924. Already the year
before he died, Lenin had fought against Stalin and expressed a decision
to banish him, but Zinoviev and Kamenev opposed the "outsider"
Trotsky and refused to cooperate with him since they feared him too much,
and let the decisive moment pass, resulting in the victory of Stalin. Later
Zinoviev and others said that cooperating with Stalin against Trotsky was
the "biggest mistake of their lives", but it was already too
late, and Stalin's power was established. Bukharin also supported Stalin
during the debate over "socialism in one country", but in 1928
he finally became aware of the bureaucratic danger, called Stalin "Genghisk
Kan" and turned against him, but the opportunity had already been
lost and the victory of Stalin was ensured. Here Tsushima is repeating
the views of Trotsky verbatim. This reduces the transformation of the Soviet
Union to Stalin's personality, and is similar to Miyamoto Kenji's conception
of history. Tsushima writes:
Trotsky insisted that the backwardness and isolation (defeat of European
revolution) of the workers' state "heightened the danger of a return
to capitalism". I also agree with this. But another reason for this
transformation, and the decisive one, was the inner-Party struggles after
the death of Lenin. That is, the fact that the Left Opposition was defeated
by Stalin in the 1925-27 inner-Party struggles. The addition of these subjective
conditions made this transformation total and inevitable?cThe victorious
Stalinist faction replaced the Bolshevik Party's internationalist revolutionary
policy (the historical materialist theory of socialist revolution) with
the influential theory of "socialism in one country", but even
more importantly was the fact that their main leader, Stalin did not understand
Marx's theory of socialist society.
[Ibid., pp. 184-5.]
I think that if the Left Opposition had not been defeated, and socialism
in one country had not been constructed, the Soviet Union would have been
basically able to follow a transitional period. At least this possibility
would have been great. Even if errors had arisen, they probably would have
been limited to adjustments.
[Ibid., p. 187.]
We don't object to the idea that Stalin didn't understand Marxism, but
we do raise a clear objection to the vulgar historical viewpoint that Soviet
"socialism" was distorted and transformed because Stalin could
not understand Marxism.
Although it is not true in every case, Tsushima basically juxtaposes a
theory of socialism with the reality of the Soviet Union, and points out
that the latter does not correspond to the principles or theory of socialism.
For example, he frames the question in terms of "how the bureaucratization
of the dictatorship of the proletariat might have been prevented".
He often raises the [French] "Commune-model" principles that
Lenin emphasized in State and Revolution, and says that Stalin threw out these principles, and they were completely
eliminated in the Soviet Union. (E.g. "In Stalinist Russia, the important
principles of the Commune state were completely crushed under foot.")
[Ibid., p. 127.]
Tsushima generally discusses the problem abstractly using one-dimensional
terms. To prove that the USSR is not socialism, he uses the method of contrasting
the reality of the Soviet Union with an abstract theory of socialism. This
is a formalistic, exterior theory that uses the method of juxtaposing an
abstract theory and "principles" of socialism with the reality
of the Soviet Union, and then deciding whether they are different or not.
Such criticism is necessary and unavoidable, as Hegel emphasized, as the
initial criticism (cognition) of an object. This is what Hegel calls "cognition
as understanding" [Verstand] in contrast to his dialectical cognition of "reason" [Vernuft]. The former sort of cognition is formal and external, and does not grasp
something internally in its historical necessity. Tsushima declares that
the Soviet Union runs counter to the theory of socialism, but the question
how this was historically inevitable or why the USSR was not a socialist
society, remains outside of cognition. The Soviet Union is simply distinguished
from socialism, and posited externally. This is precisely the limitation
of cognition that Hegel indicated. According to Hegel, this is Kant's epistemology,
and the standpoint of limited "understanding". Tsushima merely
says that state capitalism is "not socialism", without indicating
its historical necessity or foundation. At best, this is explained as the
outcome of some random historical "mistake", such as the Stalinists'
"betrayals" or "mistaken", or as a defect in Marxist
thought. Therefore, the solution to the problem is seen as a return to
some sort of "correct" method or thought. This type of cognition
is impotent compared to greater scientific cognition.
Tsushima does often raise the problem historically (dialectically), but
his underlying tone remains at this stage of "understanding".
It is therefore reasonable for him to introduce the "labor certificate
system" as the theoretical basis for his criticism of Soviet "socialism".
For Tsushima, this is the "ideal type" of socialism. Once this
ideal type has been established, all that remains is to determine whether
the reality of the USSR corresponds with it or not. This is Tsushima's
main theoretical concern. His formalistic and undialectical method is expressed
in his criticism of Stalin for failing to understand the fundamental difference
between reproduction on the basis of the wage system and reproduction in
a system of labor certificates. Basically he is only saying here that the
USSR is not socialism and does not match the ideal of socialism, without
commenting on the historical necessity of Soviet society. He has the following
to say about the "labor certificate system":
We should think about what the labor certificate system is. When we look
at the reality of the Soviet Union, this system is nowhere to be found,
and moreover there is nothing heading in that direction. This cannot even
be found in the realm of theory. What has appeared instead is a non-egalitarian
system of piece-wages that is given the name socialism.
[Ibid., p. 35.]
Instead of historically considering why the wage system existed in the
Soviet Union and took such a brutal form of exploitation, Tsushima simply
attacks it for running counter to the principles of socialism. It is certainly
true that the piece-wage system runs counter to the principles of socialism,
but the question is why this occurred. Without exposing its necessity,
the workers' criticism of Soviet "socialism" will never "be
raised" to the level of historical materialism.
But we must recognize that Tsushima's critical method, in a sense, is historically
justified and inevitable. Personally, I first came to the realization that
the Soviet Union should be viewed as state capitalism after reading Tsushima's
book in the summer of 1960. From the fifties to the sixties, those who
abandoned the "common sense" view that the Soviet "system"
was socialism, in favor of the theory of the transitional state ("degenerated"
workers' state) or state capitalism, reached this position via the works
of Tony Cliff and Tsushima Tadayuki. Despite their faults, it would be
a mistake to not recognize their enormous significance. Even while relying
on Trotsky, they had the insight and courage to criticize Soviet "socialism"
for not being socialism. On this point, they have nothing in common with
complete philistines like Miyamoto Kenji and Fuwa Tetsuzo.
Let me relate one personal episode. I don't recall the exact month or year,
but some time in the early sixties, I visited the house of Tsushima in
Tokyo and we talked for two or three hours. At the time, I didn't have
the slightest interest to visit Kuroda Kanichi, but I had been greatly
impressed by Tsushima's Criticism of Soviet "Socialism". The
result of our conversation, however, was disillusioning. I could almost
overlook Tsushima's statement-borrowed from Kitakoji Satoshi who was saying
such stupid things then-that since he was a scholar and revolutionary intellectual,
not an activist, "the elaboration of the strategy of economic struggles
is his greatest practical task today". But he began to irritate me
with his view that the cause of the "transformation" of the Soviet
Union was the Left Opposition's failure to unite internally in 1925-26
and their defeat at the hands of Stalin. This turned out to be my only
visit to his house-Tsushima, for his part, probably considered me to be
a disrespectful young man.
Tsushima's theory of the Soviet Union explains the Soviet Union's "transformation"
from its "backwardness", on the one hand, and the decisive moment
of the Left Opposition's defeat due to the "tactical" mistake
of waiting too long to fight against Stalin or not fighting correctly.
According to Tsushima, the Thirteenth Congress of the Soviet Communist
Party was the decisive moment, and since they could not topple Stalin at
that time, there was no way to crush him in the future. Tsushima claims
to refuse arbitrary evaluations of history or Stalin's "theory of
force", and to be faithful to the materialist conception of history,
but where, exactly, is the consistent historical materialism in such a
view of history? If Soviet history could have been changed depending on
the struggles of Trotsky and others and advanced in the direction of socialism,
then this same possibility cannot be denied for Stalin. Even though Tsushima
criticizes Stalin's "theory of socialism in one country" for
being a "theory of force" where the state "jumps over"
the real conditions by means of violence in order to build socialism, there
is little difference between this and Tsushima's own theory that the Soviet
Union might have shifted to socialism and not "transformed" depending
on the outcome of the struggles of the anti-Stalinists. Both are arbitrary
theories of history.
Tsushima was critical of Trotsky and Trotskyism, but his historical significance
was as a transitional existence incapable of breaking through these limitations.
This is typified by the fact that like Tony Cliff, he understood Soviet
state capitalism, in the extremely "Trotskyist" manner, as the
"outcome of counter-revolution". He also shared the Trotskyist
illusion of a "supplementary political revolution", and argued
that the revival of the "labor certificate system" and "correct"
socialist policies would make it possible for the Soviet Union to be socialist
again. The position of Trotskyism, neo-Trotskyism, as well as Stalinism
is the standpoint that seeks to "reform" the Soviet system. They
all converge on the point of reformist opportunism, and as the bourgeois
essence of the Soviet Union is exposed all real difference between them
are disappearing (what they call "reform" or political revolution
ultimately boils down to capitalism).
When we say that Tsushima essentially does not understand capitalism, we
mean that he blurs, or basically "forgets", the fundamental point
that capitalism is a society founded on the private ownership of the means
of production. Trotsky at least understood this, and therefore thought
that as long as the private property system (private ownership and the
exchange of products) was not resurrected, the Soviet Union would not be
capitalist. Trotsky also maintained that as long as the collectivized (nationalized)
means of production inherited from the October revolution were preserved,
the USSR would remain a workers' state and transitional society. Tony Cliff
and Tsushima, who broke through some of Trotsky's theoretical limitations
by developing a theory of state capitalism, would have done well to discard
Trotsky's weak points, but they end up going to the opposite extreme with
the abstraction of an "integral" state capitalism without the
element of private property.
The idea of an "integral" state capitalism is a dogma. First
of all, a wide stratum of peasantry, i.e. private property owners, existed
in the Soviet Union, and this fundamentally determined the policy of NEP
(a type of capitalism including commodity production and a market economy)
in post-revolutionary Russia. Even after the agricultural collectives were
organized, the principle governing the means of production was collective,
not social, ownership. The land was formally nationalized, but was possessed
by the cooperatives under their collective ownership. The logic of private
property functioned, within certain limitations, state enterprises were
managed under an independent accounting system (khozraschyot), and the rights of the enterprise directors were strengthened. Of course,
in one aspect the enterprise directors were state bureaucrats, but on the
other hand they were industrialists (i.e. bourgeoisie) and functional capitalists.
The state bureaucracy was charged with the mission of capitalist development
in the form of state-organized capitalism (state capitalism). In this sense,
they were an organ to unite and organize private property owners. The general
fantasy that the state is a community, or what Marx calls an "illusory
community", was even more pervasive in the Soviet Union.
Contemporary capitalism, with its highly socialized mode of production,
interwoven with stock-capital like the mesh of a net, is based on the principles
of private ownership and there is always a deep contradiction between the
highly developed production relations and productive power and the system
of private ownership. Stock-capital, for example, is not the negation of
private property, but rather the combination of capital (i.e. private ownership).
State capital is also merely capital organized by the state. In terms of
external relations, it is obvious that capital organized by the state follows
the logic of private property.
It is correct to say that state capitalism, generally speaking, moves,
unfolds and develops within a constant contradiction between the essence
of capital as capital and its nationalized form. This contradiction predominates
under the form of national ownership and remains in full force, continuously
unsettling the foundation of Soviet "socialism" (consider the
example of China after the revolution with its repeated history of flux
between "liberalization" and strengthened state control). State
capitalism is the "nationalization" of the means of production,
on the one hand, and "capitalism" on the other hand. Capital
wants to develop as private capital, and is unable to "forget"
its nature as capital. We have emphasized this point in opposition to the
views of Trotskyists, as well as Tsushima and Tony Cliff. But to give Tsushima
his due, we must introduce the following passage from his book:
The fact that the system of wage labor was dominant, surplus-value was
created and appropriated, and state power became bureaucratic, is ample
indication that property was bureaucratically owned (owned by the bureaucracy
as a group). Moreover, this bureaucratic ownership took the form of an
independent accounting system (business principles), and despite the nationalization
of the means of production, it corresponded with the wage system and the
creation and appropriation of surplus-value, rendering each other mutually
possible. The wage system and the creation and appropriation of surplus-value
is not possible under all forms of the ownership of the means of production,
but only under conditions of capitalistic private ownership, and the bureaucratic
ownership in the form of independent accounting (principles of business)
can be said to be one variation of this. At any rate, as Max Shachtman
has pointed out, nationalized ownership in Stalinist Russia is "pseudo-common".
[Ibid., pp. 213-4.]
However, Tsushima only says this in passing, and does not develop this
idea. Generally he treats the Soviet system in the abstract form of an
"integral" state capitalism. From this viewpoint, he retreats
to the abstract discussion of the mode of accumulation, and falls into
the line of reasoning that state capitalism is essentially the "Bukharin-model"
of declining accumulation, but since Russia was an extremely backward country
with little accumulation of the production means, it was able to rapidly
develop without easily reaching a "condition of saturation",
and the abnormally high proportion of military production had great significance
for this purpose. Even supposing that it were true that state capitalism
could turn into this sort of stagnant society due to its nature, this is
less a question of the "mode of accumulation" of state capitalism,
than the contradictions arising from capital as state capital. These contradictions
are what determined the decline of state capitalism, its constant impulse
towards private capital, and its inclination and shift towards this in
reality. Tsushima is unable to explain this impulse of state capitalism
towards private capital, its actual shift, or the necessity of this. Tsushima
does, however, emphasize that the nationalization of the means of production
does not directly equal socialism:
It has become common knowledge that the nationalization of the means of
production is the starting point of socialism. Still, this is the case
for both socialism and state capitalism. The question in this case, first
of all, is the nature of the state, and, secondly, whether this includes
the sublation of the law of value and the wage=labor relationship (the
commodification of labor-power). No matter how much a state may claim to
be a "workers' state", without being organized along the so-called
"Commune-model", it will in fact return to a bureaucratic dictatorship,
and without any advance towards the second point, this will completely
negate its socialist nature. Those who uncritically equate national ownership
with socialism, end up moving from Marxism to petty bourgeois socialism
(i.e. revisionism). But there are many people who equate nationalization
[Ibid., p. 24.]
Here Tsushima offers the ambiguous concept of whether a transitional period
"has an inclination to develop" towards socialism or not. One
could point to NEP in the twenties, for example, and say either that it
did or did not have an "inclination to develop" towards socialism.
One could say that in a transitional period there are remnants of commodity
production and capitalistic elements, and to overcome this requires a "long
and painful" step-by-step process, or even that the temporary development
of "commodity production and capitalistic elements" could be
an "inclination to develop" towards socialism (Lenin in fact
positioned NEP in this manner). If one accepts Tsushima's concept of a
transitional society towards socialism, the question of whether it has
an "inclination" towards socialism is connected to the evaluation
of the Bolshevik government. Trotsky thought that even the Soviet Union
under Stalin's rule had such an "inclination", whereas we reject
this idea. Tsushima thus proposed the following form to "solve"
the solutions of state capitalism:
Will the Stalinist regime be able to free itself from the above-mentioned principle contradiction? There is only one answer to this question. This, as I have already briefly mentioned, is the change from capitalist accumulation to socialist accumulation. Bukharin says: "In socialist society, advancing mass consumption is a motive force to increasingly develop industry itself. In our country, production already is not carried out for the self-augmentation of wealth, but as a means to increase consumption." This is not a falsehood, but something that must be accomplished in reality. And in order for this to be fully accomplished, the change from a wage labor system to a system of labor certificates is crucial.
[Ibid., p. 277.]
Will the Stalinist bureaucracy be able to accomplish this task? The answer
is definitively no. This is because they are counter-revolutionaries who
have in fact denied Marx's system of labor certificates, and attached the
name "socialism" to the extremely exploitative system of piece-wages
(norm system). Moreover, in order to change to a system of labor certificates,
they would have to give up the special rights they possess (the appropriation
of surplus-value, etc.) which is an unthinkable action.[Ibid., pp. 277-8.]
Tsushima's solution is the "change from capitalist accumulation to
socialistic accumulation". However, what do these two terms mean exactly?
"Capitalist accumulation" is the conversion of surplus-value
into capital, and "production for the sake of production" which
takes place under conditions of constant disequilibrium and oscillation,
and is expanded production within crisis. On the other hand, "socialist
accumulation" is expansion for the sake of consumption, and the corresponding
expanded reproduction of social production under the conscious control
of people. However, "capitalist accumulation" is the outcome
of capitalist relations of production, while the later is the result of
the triumph of socialist relations of production. If one discusses "capitalist
accumulation" and "socialist accumulation" by abstracting
and separating them from their determining relations of production, this
becomes empty talk. It is a silly illusion to think that socialism can
be realized in the Soviet Union by means of some "policy change"
Tsushima calls the Stalinist "counter-revolutionary", but his
criticism is based on their "denial of Marx's system of labor certificates",
i.e. their failure to implement this Marxist policy in the Soviet Union.
However, if the Stalinists are a state capitalist bureaucracy it is natural
and inevitable that they would not realize a labor certificate system,
and this only shows that they are faithful to their class position and
consistent. To criticize the bearers of state capitalism for "betraying"
Marxism or being "counter- revolutionary" represents the substitution
of class-based historical criticism, for moralistic anger, and is a step
away from Marxism. This is essentially the level of Trotsky and Trotskyists,
and Tsushima is the same:
I analyzed the nature of the accumulation of capital in the Stalinist regime
above, and indicated the principle contradiction between productive power
and the relations of production. The fundamental solution of this contradiction
is impossible without the elimination of the commodification of labor-power
and wage labor system that forms the fundamental basis of capitalism. But
I simply said that the Stalinist bureaucracy would be unable to voluntarily
do this. The fact that the Stalinists themselves cannot voluntarily act
to solve this principal contradiction (between the productive power and
relations of production) is the economic basis for the "second supplemental
revolution" in the Stalinist regime. This would topple the basis of
the various political contradictions and conflict due to the bureaucratic
dictatorship, and could also be said to form the basis of the "second
supplementary revolution" (premised on the development of productive
power within the Stalinist regime).
[Ibid., p. 278.]
While defining the Soviet Union as "state capitalism", he ends
up relying on Trotsky's concept of a "supplementary revolution".
Trotsky also used the term "political revolution" to express
this prospect of revolution. He used this term because he thought that
the Soviet Union had already achieved the nationalization (common ownership)
of the means of production, and hence established the "foundation
for socialism". The Soviet state had "degenerated", but
as long as it retained its foundation of the nationalized means of production,
it was still a workers' state. As long as the means of production are in
the hands of the workers' state, he felt there was no reason or necessity
for another "social revolution", and advocated a "political
revolution" to wipe out the autocratic rule of the Stalinist bureaucracy,
and restore proletarian democracy. Following this revolution, it was thought
that socialist relations of production would appear. On the basis of this
fantasy of a "political revolution", Trotsky and the Trotskyists
have continuously called for the "defense of the Soviet Union",
thereby essentially denying the bourgeois, reactionary and imperialist
character of the Soviet state. Even Tsushima, who raised the theory of
state capitalism and criticized Trotskyists, emphasized this "second
supplementary revolution". Tsushima's standpoint may have been inevitable
considering his transitional role and shortcomings. He is representative
of the generation of "leftwing" intellectuals in Japan who tried
to overcome both Stalinism and Trotskyism, while being caught at the level
Why it was necessary for the Soviet Union to move to "free" capitalism,
instead of state capitalism being able to shift directly to socialism as
the Trotskyists and Tsushima assumed. Why did their assumptions amount
to nothing but an illusion? What made the shift from state capitalism to
"free" capitalism inevitable? The answer to these questions can
be found in the essence of state capitalism. The Soviet Union and China
are not the "completion" of capitalism, the end of capitalist
development, or the highest development of capitalism. Rather, they are
one form of capitalist development, determined by the given historical
conditions and a certain position in the world, is unavoidable, to an extent,
for economically backward countries. Rather than representing the "completion"
of capitalism, the Soviet Union was a distorted capitalism in which the
existence of capital as capital was extremely suppressed and limited. Without
understanding the particular characteristics of state capitalism, it is
certainly impossible to understand state capitalism today and its "liberalization".
"It is true that even then it will be necessary for society to know
how much labour each article of consumption requires for its production.
It will have to arrange its plan of production in accordance with its means
of production, which include, in particular, its labour-powers. The useful
effects of the various articles of consumption, compared with one another
and with the quantities of labour required for their production, will in
the end determine the plan. People will be able to manage everything very
simply without the intervention of the much-vaunted "value".*
[Engels' footnote: *As long ago as 1844 I stated that the above-mentioned
balancing of useful effects and expenditure of labour on making decisions
concerning production was all that would be left, in a communist society,
of the politico-economic concept of value. (Deutsch-Franzosische Jahrbucher) The scientific justification for this statement, however, as can be seen,
was made possible only by Marx's Capital." (Engels, Collected Works Vol. 25, p. 295.)
In a 1931 speech delivered at a conference of economic executives, Stalin
spoke of the introduction of a "discriminatory" wage system:
"What is the cause of the fluidity of manpower? The cause is the wrong
structure of wages, the wrong wage scales, the 'Leftist' practice of wage
equalization. In a number of factories wage scales are drawn up in such
a way as to practically wipe out the difference between skilled and unskilled
labour, between heavy and light work. The consequence of wage equalization
is that the unskilled worker lacks the incentive to become a skilled worker
and is thus deprived of the prospect of advancement; as a result he feels
himself a 'visitor' in the factory, working only temporarily so as to 'earn
a little money' and then go off to 'try his luck' in some other place.
The consequence of wage equalization is that the skilled worker is obliged
to go from factory to factory until he finds one where his skill is properly
appreciated. Hence, the 'general' drift from factory to factory; hence,
the fluidity of manpower.
In order to put an end to this evil we must abolish wage equalization and
discard the old wage scales. In order to put an end to this evil we must
draw up wage scales that will take into account the difference between
skilled and unskilled labour, between heavy and light work. We cannot tolerate
a situation where a rolling-mill worker in the iron and steel industry
earns no more than a sweeper. We cannot tolerate a situation where a locomotive
driver earns only as much as a copying clerk. Marx and Lenin said that
the difference between skilled and unskilled labour would exist even under
socialism, even after classes had been abolished; that only under communism
would this difference disappear and that, consequently, even under socialism
"wages" must be paid according to work performed and not according
to needs. But the equalitarians among our economic executives and trade-union
officials do not agree with this and believe that under our Soviet system
this difference has already disappeared. Who is right, Marx and Lenin or
the equalitarians? It must be assumed that it is Marx and Lenin who are
right. But it follows from this that whoever draws up wage scales on the
'principle' of wage equalization, without taking into account the difference
between skilled and unskilled labour, breaks with Marxism, breaks with
[Stalin, "New Conditions, New Tasks in Economic Construction",
in Problems of Leninism (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1976), pp. 537-8.]
"And what does promoting them to higher positions and raising their
wage level mean, what can it lead to as far as unskilled workers are concerned?
It means, apart from everything else, opening up prospects for the unskilled
worker and giving him an incentive to rise higher, to rise to the category
of a skilled worker. You know yourselves that we now need hundreds of thousands
and even millions of skilled workers. But in order to build up cadres of
skilled workers, we must provide an incentive for the unskilled workers,
provide for them a prospect of advancement, of rising to a higher position.
And the more boldly we adopt this course the better, for this is the principal
means of putting an end to the fluidity of manpower. To economize in this
matter would be criminal, it would be going against the interests of our
[Ibid., p. 539.]
"True, our worker does not suffer from unemployment; he is free from the yoke of capitalism; he is no longer a slave, but the master of his job. But this is not enough. He demands that all his material and cultural requirements be met, and it is our duty to fulfill this demand of his. Do not forget that we ourselves are now making certain demands on the worker - we demand from him labour discipline, intense effort, emulation, shock-brigade [Stankhovite] work. Do not forget that the vast majority of workers have accepted these demands of the Soviet government with great enthusiasm and are fulfilling them heroically. Do not be surprised, therefore, if, while fulfilling the demands of the Soviet government, the workers in their turn demand that the Soviet government should fulfill its obligations in regard to further improving their material and cultural condition."
[Ibid., p. 540.]
"We must now ensure the supply of three times, five times the number
of engineering, technical and administrative forces for industry if we
really intend to carry out the programme of the socialist industrialization
of the U.S.S.R."
[Ibid., p. 546.]
"No ruling class has managed without its own intelligentsia. There
are no grounds for believing that the working class of the U.S.S.R. can
manage without its own industrial and technical intelligentsia."
[Ibid., p. 547.]
gState Capitalism: Is an accumulation possible here? Of course. The constant capital grows,
because the capitalistsf consumption grows. New branches of production,
corresponding to new needs, are continually arising. Even though there
are certain limits to it, the workersf consumption increases. Notwithstanding
this eunder-consumptionf of the masses, no crisis can arise, since mutual
demand of all branches of production, and likewise consumer demand, that
of the capitalists as well as of the workers, are given from the start.
Instead of eanarchy of productionf?a plan that is rational from the standpoint
of Capital. If there is a emiscalculationf in means of production, the surplus
is stored, and a corresponding correction will be made in the following
period of production. If, on the other hand, there has been a emiscalculationf
in means of consumption for the workers, this excess is used as efodderf
by distributing it amongst the workers, or the respective portion of the
product will be destroyed. Even in the case of a miscalculation in the
production of luxury articles, the eway outf is clear. Thus, no crisis of over-production can occur here. The capitalistsf consumption constitutes the incentive for production
and the plan of production. Hence, there is no particularly fast development of production (small number of capitalists).h
[Bukharin, Imperialism and the Accumulation of Capital (London: Allen Tate and the Penguin Press, 1972), p. 226.]