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John Passant

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If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)



State capitalism and the fall of the Berlin Wall


Here is a snippet from a good article in Solidarity in Australia about the fall of the Berlin Wall. It describes the Stalinist regimes as state capitalist. I would urge those interested in understanding how ‘socialism’ could be overthrown by the very workers it supposedly ruled for to read this. I would especially urge members of Socialist Alternative in Australia to read it to help re-discover their hidden history and analysis.

The failure of the Soviet Union was used as evidence of the triumph of capitalist free market ideology; there being, as Margaret Thatcher would repeatedly insist, “no alternative”. But the regimes of the Soviet Union had nothing in common with the genuine socialism envisaged by Marx.

Socialism is meant to be about workers control of the means of production—that is raw materials, machines of labor, and land. This would allow production to be based on meeting society’s needs, and overcoming the exploitation of workers, the vast majority, in the interests of a powerful minority.

But in Russia and Eastern Europe actual workers themselves had no control, and there was no democracy whatsoever. A small elite of Communist Party members, the nomenclatura, ruled these societies with an iron fist, amassing immense privileges for themselves.

How do we explain “socialist” societies which were marked by authoritarian control over production and the exploitation of workers, scarcity amidst industrial growth, and the brutal assault on various political and individual freedoms? In the 1950s British Marxist Tony Cliff developed the theory that Russia was not socialist but state capitalist, a form of capitalism where the economy was completely state owned, controlled by a repressive bureaucratic apparatus.

Stalin’s counter-revolution in the late 1920s overthrew any last elements of the workers’ power in Russia that resulted from the 1917 revolution, and placed state control in the hands of a bureaucratic elite.

Here is the link to the whole article, Eastern Europe and the Berlin Wall: 1989’s people power revolutions



Comment from paul walter
Time November 24, 2014 at 6:14 am

That’s a good article- poleconomy 101- and ought to clear the decks and clear away a few misconception amongst the curious but still open-minded.

It seems an interesting phenomena that the species cannot seem to live happily outside of a jungle, either real or of its own making.

That’s only at first glance, of course. We know the rejection of Lenin and Trotsky’s Soviet by the West and the massive attempt to destroy it early made conditions ripe for the rise of a Stalin.