The Invading Socialist Society. C L R James and Raya Dunayevskaya 1947
The imperialism of state-capitalism is the key to the understanding of the present stage of imperialism all over the world and the concrete forms of its development. Lenin, writing in the heat of a similar, but less developed, type of world disintegration was able to give us a wonderful Marxist forecast of just the contemporary developments.
“Marxists have never forgotten that violence will be an inevitable accompaniment of the collapse of capitalism on its full scale and of the birth of a socialist society. And this violence will cover a historical period, a whole era of wars of the most varied kinds -imperialist wars, civil wars within the country, the interweaving of the former with the latter, national wars, the emancipation of the nationalities crushed by the imperialists and by various combinations of imperialist powers which will inevitably form various alliances with each other in the era of vast state-capitalist and military trusts and syndicates. This is an era of tremendous collapses, of wholesale military decisions of a violent nature, of crises. It has already begun, we see it clearly – it is only the beginning.” (Selected Works, Vol. VII, pp. 315-6.)
What Lenin described in 1918 was the beginning of barbarism. Today we are thirty years further. The whole world is caught into the imperialist conflict. There are only two divisions.
If Stalinist Russia is a vast state-capitalist and military trust, American imperialism is a vast state-capitalist and military syndicate, and the distinction is evidence of the clear vision with which Lenin saw into the future.
During the war the United States government transformed itself into a mighty state-trust. It planned its production and consumption. But the American state-trust, in the struggle for world domination, embarked upon a government-regulated world-economic program. It integrated with its own the economy of Great Britain; it poured billions into the thin economic veins of its allies; it bought and distributed agricultural production on a world-wide scale. It acted as collective capitalist on a hitherto undreamt-of scale.
With the end of the war approaching, Russia, through the Stalinist parties, backed by the Red Army, operated directly in the proletariat. The United States operated through the Social Democracy and the bourgeoisie, backed by the American army and American. economic power. But the joint unity was against the proletariat only. The United States now carries on open preparation for war against its rival. From end to end of the world its economic power economically supports the most reactionary and oppressive regimes, at the head of which list stands the Chiang-Kai-Shek regime in China. America supplies arms and economic resources to aid France in the suppression of Viet Nam, and the Dutch in the suppression of Indonesia. It supports the reactionary regimes of Turkey, Iran and Greece and even the Fascist Franco. It maintains the tottering capitalistic regime in Japan. It is the support and ally of every counterrevolutionary regime in Latin-America. It shares equally with Russia the major guilt in the drawing and quartering of Germany. The State Department becomes the virtual dispenser of billions of foreign | trade. The latest venture is the proposed “Marshall Plan” – a gigantic scheme to reconstruct the shattered economy of Western Europe, and by this means to control its economy and politics completely as an outpost of American trade and a bastion against both Stalinist Russia and the proletarian revolution.
By its enormous, swollen bureaucratic expenditures at home, its war preparation, direct and indirect, its control of the World Banks and all international economic agencies, the State Department’s manipulations of foreign trade and foreign loans, the American government has become the economic arbiter of billions of productive forces and hundreds of millions of people. Only an economist fetish-ism can fail to see that in its struggle with Russian capital for world domination, the American state acts as the center of a vast state-capitalist syndicate within which it dominates the economics and politics of its subordinate allies. These stick to it for the same reasons that their counterparts stick to Stalinist Russia, terror of the proletarian revolution and fear of a rival imperialism.
But great as is the economic power of American imperialism, this is counter-balanced by the colossal drain upon its resources of maintaining the world-wide system of satellites within its syndicate, the hatred it engenders in revolutionary forces everywhere, and the revolutionary instincts, strivings and industrial organization of the American proletariat, the greatest social force the world has ever. known. Not in any ultimate historic but in the immediate sense, American capital faces the same catastrophic violent destruction at the hands of the proletariat as does Stalinist Russia.
It is only when we have this as our basis that we can analyze the disintegration of relations between nations and the concrete forms of the tasks history now imposes upon the classes.
We must understand the background of Lenin’s mind when he made his priceless formulations.
Lenin in 1916 made a triple division of the countries of the world. Division I was the countries of Western Europe and America where the progressiveness of bourgeois national movements was at an end. Division II comprised the countries of Eastern Europe including Russia. There the bourgeois national movements for national liberation were on the order of the day. In division III were India, China, and other colonial countries where the bourgeois national movements were just beginning. Those divisions, the result of geographical conditions and social relations, are equally valid today, with, however, tremendous changes which involve the new relations and new tactical approaches to the struggle for socialism.
In 1947, Division I, after thirty years of capitalist disintegration, shows that the bourgeois-national movements are no longer merely “not progressive.” They have abandoned their historic roles. The bourgeoisie of France, Italy, Germany and Japan no longer believes in national independence.
It is therefore natural that among the advanced countries this movement to the syndicate is most powerful. The syndicate alone is suited to the advanced countries of Western Europe.
As soon as we look at Lenin’s Division II we can see an entirely different structural form. Russia was an oppressor nation in 1916 But 1917 showed that even its own bourgeois problems were dependent upon the proletariat for solution. The history of Russia to date shows that even the Russian proletariat, in isolation, has proved incapable of solving not only the socialist problems, but even the democratic problem of self-determination. Hence Trotsky in 1939 raised the slogan of an independent Ukraine. The whole history of Russia since 1917 and the miserable, bloody history of the countries of Eastern Europe since 1916 have shown, as we would expect, that there is no salvation for them as capitalist countries. But long before 1947 it was possible to see that there is no salvation for them at all as isolated countries, capitalist or socialist. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Czechoslovakia, the Ukraine, the Balkan countries, Greece, Poland, cannot survive even as isolated socialist states. Germain’s Marxism does not know what every Polish workman knows. For nearly two hundred years a bourgeois Poland was constantly partitioned and repartitioned. The Poland of 1918 was an artificial creation, maintained by a balance of power which was destroyed in the war. Now today Poland as an isolated nation, capitalist or socialist, is finished forever, and the same is true of the other countries of Eastern Central Europe.
Germain calls them “the buffer-countries.” His pro-Stalinism, the spectacles through which he views relations between nations as between classes, has led him to endorse a title which is the exact opposite of the truth. Buffer is precisely what they cannot be. Their whole history shows that they have to belong. After 1848, Hungary and later Czechoslovakia, clustered around Austria (hence the Dual Monarchy) in order to save themselves from a greater oppression – Tsarist Russia. After 1918 some of them formed the Little Entente, under the economic and political guidance of France. The decline of France swept them into the orbit and then the domination of Germany. It is no accident that at the first shock Germany wiped away the Polish and Yugoslav bourgeoisie. The defeat of Germany swept them into the power of Russia. The conclusion is obvious. It is that for Austria, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Greece and the others, any economic organisation which is not based on the Socialist United States of Europe or at the very least on a Federation of Socialist States in Eastern Europe is reactionary.
As national units they are doomed either to participation in a socialist federation or subordination to a vast state-capitalist trust or syndicate. This is the given stage of the given epoch, the result of the centralization of capital. This is the economic and social movement growing steadily through the decades which has now reached a climax in the coalescence around the state-capitalist military trust of Russia. The concrete movement might have been otherwise but it is only a theory which can explain it. Lenin did not join the terms, State, capital, military and trust by accident. The competition on the world-market fuses these into one centralized force. Politics becomes the most highly concentrated and comprehensive expression of the laws of the world-market. Germain, in the face of the reality, continues to divide the economic from the strategic needs of a totalitarian state.
Today in Europe as far south as Greece, but above all in Poland, there is and can be no isolated civil war. Every conference, every economic deal, all loans, “relief,” peace-settlements, production, grabs of territory, withdrawal or maintenance of troops, elections, are governed by the struggle for the domination of Europe between the United States and Russia. All political opposites, national and international, politics and economics, peace and war, are beginning to assume identity. In 1940 the small states, pawns in the hands of the big ones, only had freedom to a limited extent, to choose between their masters, today Germany, the heart of Europe has no freedom of choice. In the cabinets of France and Italy the rival powers have their representatives evenly matched, and every step is calculated for its effect on the world proletariat and the struggle for power between a state-capitalist military trust and a state-capitalist military syndicate.