Class Theory and History: Capitalism and Communism in the USSR
Stephen A. Resnick
First Published in 2002. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
intolerable states of poverty while others accumulated wealth, and drove a growing number of former ancients into rural capitalist class structures instead. Rage, despair, emigration, envy, conflict, and violence grew. Leading analysts of otherwise divergent persuasions all recognized certain major dimensions of these conditions (although not in surplus terms). W itte stressed the importance of private capitalism in leading manufacturing industries. Stolypin and Lenin, although in different ways
the Russo-Japanese War, the 1905 revolution, and defeats in the early years of World War One appeared to increasing numbers of Russians as awful signs of an impending general collapse of Russian society. The previous omnipotence widely accorded to the pinnacles of centralized feudalism-the czarist court, the church, and the great landowners-seemed to fade before the elemental force of change and collapse. Hitherto marginal social formations moved forward into the vacuum thereby opened:
The appropriators of the surplus exploit its producers-appropriate the latters' surplus product-insofar as and precisely because they are not also pro ducers themselves. Part 2 then shows how a capitalist class structure can take either of two forms. In private capitalism, one or more persons with no official position in the state apparatus function as surplus appropriator/exploiter, whereas in state cap italism, the surplus appropriator/exploiter consists of one or more state officials. The
overwhelming preponderance of other analysts of socialism and commu nism, both advocates and opponents, have defined class in terms of who owns what property and who wields what power. The USSR was thus socialist or communist xii Class Theory and History in economic terms because it abolished private property and the market (private power), replacing them with collective property and state planning. Critics of the USSR have questioned its socialist or communist credentials chiefly on the
remain partial, open to ceaseless addition, contestation, and change. This is because, to be intelligible, they can focus on only a few aspects. They necessarily leave out most of the other aspects. Thus, our analysis, which is focused on class in terms of surplus labor, is distin guished by not asserting that class is what determined the rise and fall of the USSR. Ours is not a determinist class analysis intended to confront alternative analyses arguing that what determined Soviet history was