Michael Kidron

State Capitalist Handbook

(Autumn 1965)

From International Socialism (1st series), No.22, Autumn 1965, p.32.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The New Economics
E. Preobrazhensky
Clarendon Press: Oxford University Press, 55s

Stalin took Preobrazhensky’s thesis, wrapped it in fissile material and with it unleashed Russia’s second Civil War two years after publication. It is an old story, with a compelling horror that has not palled. It tells of revolutionaries defending ‘left’ positions, driven by events to twist and warp their concepts to fit a counter-revolutionary reality; of these monster concepts – ‘primitive socialist accumulation’, ‘commodity socialist system’, ‘non-equivalent exchange’ – being used to justify an even more monstrous reality – primitive state capitalism. It is a story in which courage and cowardice, foresight and blindness, clarity and confusion serve and choke each other in the greatest spasm of human history.

Preobrazhensky does not tell it; but it informs every line of his book. Now that it is available in English, nobody at all interested in the history of the debate on Russia, or on the relationship of ideology and policy can afford to ignore it.

But there is more. In his defense of planned industry, Preobrazhensky has written the finest text-book to date on how to use the state to crash through the walls of peasant opposition and international competition. It is a State Capitalist’s vade mecum; and should be the first book to be ordered by any Planning Commission in backward countries.

It has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with socialism.

Last updated on 15 April 2010