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State Capitalism Versus Communism: What Happened In The USSR?

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Chapter Summary

A widespread conviction holds that one of the most extraordinary events of the twentieth century was the establishment of communism, first in Russia and then China. Using the USSR and the PRC as exemplars, this chapter argues that those nations actually displayed capitalist and feudal, not communist, class structures. We begin with two sets of definitions basic to our argument. The first set concerns what we mean by class structures, while the second concerns the difference between a private and a state form of any class structure. Capitalism as a class structure differs from other class structures in the complexes of politics, culture, and economics that pressure and persuade wage workers regularly to produce a surplus for their employers. From its beginnings, Soviet state capitalism had a basic problem. It could not generate sufficient surpluses to fund all the distributions needed for it to survive and grow.

Keywords: communism; Soviet state capitalism; USSR



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