Need for open-eyed realism about the USSR

Ask Prof. Wolff: Hi Professor Wolff, firstly, thank you so much for your explanation of what socialism really is, and how it wasn't what the Soviets did! My parents were socialists, but they never explained it to me. My dad taught Marx, but either he didn't understand it as you do, or didn't bother to explain it. However, I do think you are FAR too generous to Stalin, in explaining why he declared that State Capitalism was Socialism. You seem to think that he was a well-meaning person, a regular politician, who was limited by historical circumstances, when in fact he was a sociopathic dictator, who had NO interest in empowering the people of Russia, so of COURSE he would be determined to keep control of economic activity, and had no intention of democratising the economy! Hence the murder of all the original revolutionaries, who would be able to tell the population that the system wasn't Socialism! But I agree, and have been inspired, by everything else you've said. I would like to join the action group - would that work with me being in Australia? (And, btw, could you include us when you list the western, capitalist countries? I know people forget that we're here, but we do exist, and are living with neo-liberalism just like the people of North America, Europe and Japan! All the best,

Official response from submitted

Dear Bethany,

I want people to focus on the policy choices made by decision-makers when I discuss the differences between private and state socialisms. That is the issue so many overlook or ignore, while billions of pages document what you said about Stalin and his regime. This is a matter of what is being focused on, and I want to advance a broad awareness of the systemic differences but also the commonalities between the two major kinds of capitalism, private and state, so that people will come to ask and answer the question: how is socialism something basically different from both kinds of capitalism. You might take a look at a book I worked on with a colleague for 10 years to work all this out with respect to Stalin and the USSR: the title is Class Theory and History: Communism and Capitalism in the USSR by Stephen Resnick and Richard Wolff (New York and London: Routledge Publishers, 2002).

I am very excited to hear of your interest in joining an action group in Australia. Please find a contact near you at: democracyatwork.info/groups#find

Or to start such a group in your area, please contact our Director of Organization Betsy at betsy@democracyatwork.info


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  • responded with submitted 2016-09-26 12:55:10 -0400
  • commented 2016-09-26 12:45:57 -0400
    Dear Bethany,

    I want people to focus on the policy choices made by decision-makers when I discuss the differences between private and state socialisms. That is the issue so many overlook or ignore, while billions of pages document what you said about Stalin and his regime. This is a matter of what is being focused on, and I want to advance a broad awareness of the systemic differences but also the commonalities between the two major kinds of capitalism, private and state, so that people will come to ask and answer the question: how is socialism something basically different from both kinds of capitalism. You might take a look at a book I worked on with a colleague for 10 years to work all this out with respect to Stalin and the USSR: the title is Class Theory and History: Communism and Capitalism in the USSR by Stephen Resnick and Richard Wolff (New York and London: Routledge Publishers, 2002).

    I am very excited to hear of your interest in joining an action group in Australia. Please find a contact near you at: democracyatwork.info/groups#find

    Or to start such a group in your area, please contact our Director of Organization Betsy at betsy@democracyatwork.info
  • published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2016-09-24 21:46:07 -0400

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