Aufheben 6 (Autumn 1997)


What was the USSR?
Towards a Theory of the Deformation of Value under State Capitalism Part 1:
Trotsky and State Capitalism

The Russian Revolution and the subsequent establishment of the USSR as a 'workers' state', has dominated political thinking for more than three generations. In the past, it seemed enough for communist revolutionaries to define their radical separation with much of the 'left' by denouncing the Soviet Union as state capitalist. This is no longer sufficient, if it ever was. Many Trotskyists, for example, now feel vindicated by the 'restoration of capitalism' in Russia. To transform society we not only have to understand what it is, we also have to understand how past attempts to transform it failed. In this and future issues we shall explore the inadequacies of the theory of the USSR as a degenerated workers' state and the various versions of the theory that the USSR was a form of state capitalism.

Trotsky's Theory of the Soviet Union as a Degenerated Workers' State
In this section, we examine Trotsky's theory of the USSR as a degenerated workers' state, which, at least in Britain, has served as the standard critical analysis of the nature of the Soviet Union since the 1930s. We sketch the background to Trotsky's account of the USSR in the struggles within and beyond the Bolshevik party.

The Theory of the USSR as a Form of State Capitalism within Trotskyism
The theory of the USSR as state capitalist is perhaps most associated with Tony Cliff. While radically revising the Trotskyist orthodoxy with regard to Russia, Cliff sought to remain faithful to Trotsky's broader theoretical conceptions. However, Cliff's theory has often been used by orthodox Trotskyists as a straw man with which to refute all state capitalist theories and sustain the orthodox conception of the USSR as a degenerated workers' state.

Intakes: Death of a Paper Tiger... Reflections on Class War
Class War's attempt to break out of the anarchist ghetto, which had been dominated by eccentrics and liberal pacifists, has had a profound impact on many anarchists and revolutionaries. In this issues Intakes we have a piece written in response to the disbanding of Class War which looks at the fundamental problems of Class War's populist approach.

Reply by Animal to 'Death of a Paper Tiger'

Reply to Animal

Review Article: Whatever Happened to the Situationists?
A steady trickle of publications about the situationists testifies to the market value of their ideas, but it also reminds us of the continued requirement for revolutionaries to engage with them. In this review we look at two recent books. Ken Knabb's Public Secrets illustrates the self-obsessed nature of the situationist milieu after the heady days of 1968. What is Situationism? A Reader includes Barrot's important critique of the Situationist International for their one-sided emphasis on circulation rather then production. These historically-determined limits cannot detract from the vitality of many of the SI's contributions, including, amongst others, their critique of the 'militant'.