In the Light of Marxism

Questioning of an Historical Period

Elif Çağlı

May 1991

V. The “Transition Period” Ceases to Exist Under Bureaucratic Dictatorship

A socio-economic formation which takes shape under the command of a bureaucratic state -like the one in the Soviet Union- is a phenomenon that has nothing in common with the transition period from capitalism to communism and should be analysed entirely on the basis of its own peculiar nature. It is not possible to speak of the existence of the fundamental condition of the transition period from capitalism to communism in all those countries where the working class lost the power to the bureaucracy or where the state was established in a bureaucratic manner from the very outset. What is this fundamental condition? As Marx states in The Critique of Gotha Programme, “Between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.”[1]

As the experiences have shown, the historical movement of the working class from capitalism towards communism can only be possible under its own direct domination. This political domination is embodied in the workers’ state, the essence of which is the proletariat organised as ruling class. The distinctive feature of transition period from capitalism to communism is that the proletariat, after establishing its domination by conquering the political power, lifts itself up to the position of being the master of the conditions of production, centralising the means of production in the hands of its own state. Marx noted the fundamental factor that illuminates the foundation of the entire social construction as follows:

It is always the direct relation of the owners of the conditions of production to the direct producers, which reveals the innermost secret, the hidden foundation of the entire social construction, and with it of the political form of the relations between sovereignty and dependence, in short, of the corresponding form of the state. The form of this relation between rulers and ruled naturally corresponds always with a definite stage in the development of the methods of labour and of its productive social power.[2]

It is necessary to take measures of Paris Commune type and enforce them in order to avoid a bureaucratic division of rulers and ruled amongst the working class -after conquering political power- and not to lose by this way its power falling under the rule of new masters. Thus the Paris Commune type measures are necessary for not only destroying old bureaucratic-military state apparatus, but also for replacing it with a mechanism “that can prevent a return to old crap”. In short, the workers’ state cannot organise in a bureaucratic manner like the bourgeois state, otherwise it cannot be a workers’ state. Besides, the dictatorship of the proletariat is rested on the direct domination of the proletariat organised in soviets, not on the domination of the party which wins the leadership of the class. Thus workers’ democracy is not one of the forms of the dictatorship of the proletariat, but its condition of existence, its essence.

It is thus clear that one cannot speak of a “transition period” in those countries where the proletariat has not even really come to power and bureaucratic dictatorships have been established from the very outset. But, on the other hand, we have the example of the Russian proletariat who conquered the political power through 1917 October Revolution and started the historical transition from capitalism to communism. However as the Soviet state transformed into a bureaucratic one, the necessary condition of transition period (workers’ democracy) has disappeared and the historic movement from capitalism into communism stopped. It is not possible to speak of a workers’ state when there is no workers’ democracy and of the existence of a transition period when there is no workers’ state respectively. Thus, these societies cannot be defined as “societies in transition period” just as they cannot be defined as “socialist”.

The ideology of the bureaucratic state

The Soviet bureaucracy and the other bureaucratic sovereignties have existed and continued their existence on the basis of state ownership of the fundamental means of production. It has been a binding duty of bureaucracy to protect the economic foundations of the bureaucratic regime, that is state ownership, to save its own sovereignty. Having raised themselves up to the level of an independent power in the face of society, the bureaucratic dictatorships, in spite of certain differences between them, have formed an official ideology with a common content in the final analysis. This official ideology is materialised in the conception of “national and statist socialism”.

It is a general fact that in exploitative societies the state defines itself with an official ideology vis-a-vis society. Engels explains in his Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy the position of the state as the highest form of ideology as follows:

Hardly come into being, this organ makes itself independent vis-a-vis society; and, indeed, the more so, the more it becomes the organ of a particular class, the more it directly enforces the supremacy of that class....

But once the state has become an independent power vis-a-vis society, it produces forthwith a further ideology. It is indeed among professional politicians, theorists of public law, and jurists of private law, that the connection with economic facts gets lost for fair.[3]

However, in the period of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which represents the opening of a new historical period, since the state will undergo a qualitative transformation and organise as a semi-state, it will no longer represent an independent power vis-a-vis the toiling majority of society. On the contrary “state” here will or must itself be the organised power of the toiling majority. Of course, such a state cannot have an ideology different or independent from a worldview reflecting the historical interests of the majority.

It would be a great fallacy to hope that this rule, which applies to a real workers’ state, would also apply to a bureaucratic state that establishes its rule in the name of the working class. The fact that the workers’ state in the Soviet Union transformed into the state of the bureaucracy as a result of bureaucratic counter-revolution, resulted in a situation where state is an independent power vis-a-vis the majority, just like it is in exploitative societies in general. The state of the bureaucracy created an official ideology reflecting its own interests confirming the law Engels stated. This official ideology, which we call “Stalinism”, has been enthroned not only within the borders of the Soviet Union, but also, through the enforcement of the bureaucratic power in the Soviet Union, within the international communist movement. In brief, this official ideology in its heyday has put its imprint, to this or that extent, on all powers established in the name of “socialism”, spread and implant its bureaucratic system of domination to them.

The Stalinist bureaucracy presented the nationalisation of the means of production as “socialisation”, “socialist construction”, “real socialism”. However, as we stated in the previous parts, nationalisation can by no means be identified with socialisation; such an attempt could have a character of a leap forward towards socialisation only under a workers’ state.[4] A nationalisation under the political domination of the bureaucracy made the bureaucracy dominant in economic sense as well and lifted it to the position of the master of the production process. Thus, as Marx stated, the rule that reads “those who control the social surplus-product, control the whole society as well” operated and the bureaucracy emerged before the proletariat as a real dominant power in both political and economic sense. In order to continue its sovereignty, above all, over the proletariat, the bureaucracy needed an argument in order to establish, strengthen and maintain its ideological hegemony, apart from direct repression when necessary. This argument of the bureaucracy which has been a means of its ideological hegemony turned out to be the monstrosity of “socialism in one country”.

Just as the bourgeois dictatorship, in general, needed a guise of “democracy” in order to make itself presentable to the toiling masses, the bureaucratic dictatorship wore a guise of “socialism”. Of course, Stalinism was not to search for the sources of its official ideology in the perspectives of revolutionary Marxism. This would be a voluntary suicide for it. Thus it clung to the Lassallean conception of petty-bourgeois socialism which was at the time bitterly criticised by Marx. All theoretical ammunition of Marxism on workers’ state, transition period, socialism and communism have been pervaded by the Stalinist domination. And this theoretical arsenal have been kept under lock and key with every measure to prevent proletariat from seizing it. Thanks to the domination that has been provided by the nationalised means of production, the bureaucracy managed for a relatively long time to foist its sovereignty on the proletariat as “socialism”.

According to the Stalinist ideology that identifies socialism with statism, if a national liberationist bourgeois or petty-bourgeois power in an economically backward country had taken the road of “statism” along with good relations with the Soviet Union, this was enough to call it “socialist”. That the regimes in countries like Algeria, Yemen, Somalia, Angola, Mozambique, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Nicaragua are characterised as “socialist” shows how far the concept of socialism has been trampled over. In brief, the Stalinist sovereignty has given a present to the world, which is a distortion of “socialism” that has nothing in common with socialism. This distortion that the followers of Stalinism designated “real socialism” has enormously harmed the struggle for socialism.

The contributions (!) of the ideologues of the Stalinist bureaucracy and that famous “academy of sciences” are the evidences of the ideological struggle to kill Marxism. Their “scientific” occupation has been an “officialdom” that is responsible for defending Stalinism -which tramples over Marxism- against the criticism of revolutionary Marxism. The following quote from Kuusinen, head of the Soviet Academy of Sciences and one of the prominent ideologues of the Comintern and the Soviet bureaucracy, would suffice to show how Stalinist bureaucracy killed Marxism:

Under socialist regime national property is state property, as society, owning the means of production, is represented by state at this stage. The state manages whole social production as a single process in the name of society…. When it is said that, under socialist regime, people consciously direct the evolution of society, what one must understand from this is that people do this through party and state that play the role of managing and organising the socialist economy.[5]

The characteristics of the bureaucratic regime

As for the process experienced under bureaucratic domination in the USSR and countries alike, where capitalist private ownership on basic means of production is abolished and means of production are nationalised, we cannot talk about capitalism. Labour power is no longer a commodity that is sold to and purchased by private capitalists (or a capitalist state). As private property on the means of production is abolished, they cease to be capital and the process of capital accumulation is put an end to; instead a general accumulation of products begins. The general target of production is no longer the production of exchange values aimed at obtaining more profit in the market. The essential target of the bureaucratic command economy is to increase the production of goods on the basis of state ownership in order to guarantee the accumulation of surplus product necessary for reproduction.

In a bureaucratic command economy like the USSR, generalised commodity production has ended; the production process has ceased to be a process in which surplus value is produced. In this regime, distribution of productive resources is realised not according to the laws of market economy (which manifest themselves in the pursuit of capital to obtain the highest profit in the market) but to a central plan that reflects the preferences of the dominant bureaucracy. However as the gauge in planning is the price indicator and monetary evaluation, the input-output transactions between sectors go hand in hand with a financial planning that resembles only formally the exchange transactions in the market. This situation is completely different from the capitalist market economy where distribution of resources is done according to the competition rule in the market. In such a case, the dominant mechanism in the economy can be characterised as neither private nor state capitalism.

Thus, although the world market constitutes a pressure on the bureaucratic regime due to the existence of capitalist domination across the world, we cannot ignore the qualitative difference between the economies under a bureaucratic state and a capitalist state. The economy of a bureaucratic regime on the basis of state ownership is not like the “economic activities of state” in a capitalist society in which the economy is basically a market economy and individual private property on the means of production is essential. The “statist economy” under the bureaucratic state cannot be defined as a version of capitalism, i.e. “state capitalism”.[6] As Marx explains in Capital, capitalism can live only in a medium where there is capitalist competition, “many capitals” -even if they are merged and monopolised- and where they can find free wage labour. Yet, such a situation is out of question in the bureaucratic regimes.

In the bureaucratic dictatorships separated from each other by national borders and conflicts of interest, the pressure of the capitalist world market is reflected in the formation of an black market developing beside the nationalised foreign trade and the infiltration of capitalist relations into the inner workings of the bureaucratic regime. The channels of juicy revenues (smuggling, black market, etc.) created by world trade especially for those shrewd elements at key positions among the bureaucracy ended in a growing unofficial market economy in these countries.

We have already stated that labour power, which is a commodity under capitalism, would lose this character in a situation where the means of production are nationalised under the political sovereignty of the proletariat. And this holds true even if with a bureaucratic dictatorship where basic means of production are nationalised and the accumulation of capital is put an end to. But, of course, the qualitative difference between the two situations is obvious when we look into the problem from the standpoint of the position of the proletariat in the production process. While it will plan and maintain the social production as its own master in a workers’ state, the proletariat completely loses this superiority under the bureaucratic state. In the latter, it does not sell its labour power to capitalists and generally there is no capitalist to buy its labour power. However, it cannot allocate its labour power to its own rule as it would be in a workers’ state. Under the bureaucratic state, the proletariat allocates its labour power to the state which embodies the domination of the bureaucracy. For this reason, the position of the working class is not like that in the capitalist society. It is dependent on the bureaucratic state and collectively exploited by the dominant bureaucracy.

At this point let us note two important points in order to avoid some misunderstandings. First, in spite of the different position of the working class in a bureaucratic regime compared with capitalism, the concept “working class” can still be used to define this class now exploited under different conditions; and this attitude is correct. Because this class is neither a completely “new class” nor a “slave class” contrary to the claims of some writers who make varied appraisals of the nature of the bureaucratic regimes. As we deal with this kind of wrong views in another chapter, here we will limit ourselves with a brief remark. Under bureaucratic dictatorship the “worker” is neither a “free” wage labour like under capitalism, nor a “slave” belonging with all his/her being to the master. The right to use his/her labour power belongs to the state and he/she gets in return a share again determined by the state. Although the quantity of this share is calculated in terms of money and the worker is paid in cash, this is not the wage determined by the rules of market like under capitalism. But, once we have clarified the difference of labourers from free wage labour under capitalism, there is nothing wrong with calling the payment to labourers under the bureaucratic dictatorships “wage”.

Under the bureaucratic regime where the production of surplus value is brought to an end in general, the specific form of appropriating surplus-labour of the proletariat will reveal the secrets of this socio-economic formation. About this rule Marx says the following in the third volume of Capital:

The specific economic form, in which unpaid surplus-labour is pumped out of direct producers, determines the relationship of rulers and ruled, as it grows directly out of production itself and, in turn, reacts upon it as a determining element. Upon this, however, is founded the entire formation of the economic community which grows up out of the production relations themselves, thereby simultaneously its specific political form.[7]

How can “the specific economic form, in which unpaid surplus-labour is pumped out of direct producers,” be expressed in the bureaucratic regime? By the fact that the bureaucracy, who owns the state, is the sole power to decide in the distribution of the products of social labour, being the centralised dominant power that employs the whole workforce. This situation is the expression of the production relations in the bureaucratic regimes and it determines the relations between the ruling bureaucracy and ruled proletariat. Also it is the material basis upon which the political form of the bureaucratic regime arises. While the proletariat is the political and economic source of sovereignty in a workers’ state, which, being the master of production process, decides “what, how much, how” to produce in the planning of production, this source of power under the bureaucratic regime belongs to the bureaucracy. The aim of the dominant bureaucracy is to sustain the expanded reproduction process in order to maintain the existence of the bureaucratic state. Since the economy, which is generally based on bureaucratic central planning, does not aim at producing exchange values and does not have to submit to the rules of capitalist market, it may be perceived in a sense as a planning of use value production to meet the necessaries of society. But in fact, due to the interests, internal conflicts, and whims of the dominant bureaucracy, this planning is not always rational, and, above all, is far from meeting the genuine needs of the producers. The essence of the bureaucratic regime is that the bureaucracy rules the conditions of production, regulates the production process not from the point of view of the historical interests of the working class, but of the maintenance and strengthening of the bureaucratic state.

On the basis of central planning by the bureaucracy, social product is divided into three parts: 1) the part that the bureaucracy appropriates in order to meet its consumption (luxury and comfort included), 2) resources allocated for social development and growth, 3) the part necessary for the workers to reproduce their labour power, various social funds, etc. It is clear that the share of the proletariat is quite small compared with what it could have been under the domination of the proletariat, if we consider that this distribution is planned by the dominant bureaucracy which has an absolute say on the state property.

In addition to the fact that the proletariat has no say in the determination of its share in the national income (no independent trade union organisation, no wage bargain, no strike!), it serves for the satisfaction of the consumption of a huge horde of bureaucrats. It would be ridiculous under these circumstances to imagine that the bureaucracy could do justice to the proletariat in determining its wages. Compared with the situation in advanced capitalist countries, the living conditions that the workers’ wages can afford in these countries are generally below the average level. One reason for this is that the productivity of labour in these countries is well below the level in world market. But statistical figures show that the wages paid to the workers is much more below their productivity. It means that under the conditions where the “sole employer” of the workforce is the bureaucratic state, the wages determined by it do not at all indicate a real guarantee of life. For this reason, the fight for increasing living standards in spite of legal obstacles continued also under the bureaucratic dictatorship and in practice there appeared two separate economies: official and unofficial economy! Because of the frustration caused by the official economy from the point of view of the working class (that is, the inadequacy of workers’ share from the product) there emerged an unofficial labour market on the basis of unofficial additional jobs.

But it would be wrong to regard this unpleasant picture in distribution of products from the point of view of the proletariat as only a picture of inequalities in distribution process and not to dwell on the facts underlying it. Because the conditions of distribution of products is a result of distribution of production conditions, that is the distribution of the mutual positions of the classes in the production process. Marx expresses this fact in his article Introduction to the Critique of the Political Economy:

Distribution according to the most superficial interpretation is distribution of products; it is thus removed further from production and made quasi-independent of it. But before distribution becomes distribution of products, it is (1) distribution of the means of production, and (2) (which is another aspect of the same situation) distribution of the members of society among the various types of production (the subsuming of the individuals under definite relations Of production). It is evident that the distribution of products is merely a result of this distribution, which is comprised in the production process and determines the structure of production.[8]

In terms of distribution of the means of production, under the bureaucratic regime the dominant bureaucracy collectively retains the monopoly of the right to dispose (the right to decide how to use and where) the means of production that are in the possession of the state. Under these conditions the proletariat does not hold the position of the “producing and ruling” class, which it can enjoy in a workers’ state. The division of “producer-ruler”, which will disappear, merging in the heart of the proletariat in a workers’ state, continues to exist in the bureaucratic regime. The proletariat’s lot is “to produce”, and bureaucracy’s lot is “to rule”.

For this reason, the appropriate criterion to reveal the inequalities in the distribution of products under the bureaucratic state is not only a comparison of the wages of bureaucrats and workers, but a comparison of their different positions within the conditions of production. As long as direct producers are “ruled” in the production process, they have to produce the consumption goods necessary for a living of the “ruling” class. This necessity will continue to exist under the bureaucratic state, while it can come to an end from the standpoint of the working class in the case of existence of a workers’ state. In a bureaucratic regime where there is no wealthy classes of private propertied sort, the bureaucracy, enjoying the authority of collective domination over state property, is the dominant class that appropriates the social surplus-labour of the proletariat, and exploits it. Thus although the exploitation is not a surplus-value exploitation under bureaucratic regime, which is characteristic to capitalism, there is an exploitation of surplus-labour and these regimes belong to the set of exploitative societies. Thus Marx’s generalisation in Capital is valid for them, too:

Wherever a part of society possesses the monopoly of the means of production, the labourer, free or not free, must add to the working-time necessary for his own maintenance an extra working-time in order to produce the means of subsistence for the owners of the means of production, whether this proprietor be the Athenian caloV c’agaJoV, Etruscan theocrat, civis Romanus, Norman baron, American slave-owner, Wallachian Boyard, modern landlord or capitalist.[9]

Thus, the privileged position of the bureaucracy in these countries is something much beyond the corruption and the injustice in the distribution of the means of subsistence. The lion’s share bureaucracy gets in the distribution of the means of subsistence at the expense of the working class flows from the fact that the former is a ruling class while the latter is a ruled class. This is the main point we should look at in judging the dominant bureaucracy from the view point of the historical interests of the working class. Otherwise it would amount to being content with dealing only with the special privileges of bureaucrats, their dachas etc. and obsessing with appearance and failing to see the essence. As a matter of fact it is the international bourgeoisie that tries to do it. In order to blacken socialism, in a bid to exploit this reality, it has to divert the attention away from the essence, namely that these regimes are not socialist.

Historical gain?

The fact that the working class continues to be a “ruled” class in the bureaucratic regime, inevitably finds its most striking expression in the labour regime of the bureaucratic state. The fact that under the bureaucratic state the right to work has been “ensured” by laws and unemployment has legally been put an end to, is not enough to describe this situation as a “historical gain” of the proletariat. Such “job security” of the working class under the bureaucratic state and a genuine job security such that the proletariat can enjoy thanks to a state of its own should not be mixed. To see these two as identical would mean to appraise state ownership as a historical gain even under conditions that a proletarian revolution does not take place but a bureaucratic domination is established from the very outset. And such an attitude would mean to equate the position into which the bureaucratic state has driven the working class (being the workers of despotic-bureaucratic state) with the historical gains of the proletarian revolution (the proletariat as the dominant class, master of itself). In this case the idea that a proletarian revolution is necessary will fade away and such an idea that even without such a revolution the working class may well attain a historical gain only through state ownership will gain ground.

It is true that the working class obtained a chance of employment under the bureaucratic regime based on state ownership, which it can never have under capitalism. This situation may seem to them as a guarantee compared with the fear of dismissal and unemployment that the working class would experience under capitalism; and they may want to preserve this right. But, still all these are not sufficient to make the job security under the bureaucratic regime a historical gain of the working class revolution.

Apart from the principle of free market of capitalism (workers are free to sell their labour and bosses are free to buy it), the bureaucratic regimes in general have to employ every individual who is able work under a labour regime the terms of which are determined by the state. We say in general, because the unemployment could not completely be overcome even under the bureaucratic regimes. “Job security” is the condition of maintaining the sovereignty of the bureaucratic regimes based on state ownership. Because, in order to maintain the status quo and keep the working class at a standstill the bureaucratic state has to lean on some structural concessions. However, there is no rational point in appraising such a labour regime as a “historical gain”, in which the working class is deprived of all rights of union, strike etc. in the face of an alienated state and where wages and work conditions are determined unilaterally by the dominant bureaucracy. In fact the reality that should be grasped is this: there must be a special way to preserve stability in a situation where the working class is not dominant and is deprived of democratic rights to defend itself against the state of the dominant bureaucracy. It is this compulsion, and not the loyalty (!) of the bureaucracy to the working class, which is the reason for “job security”, low rents, free health services, free nursery and education, a general scope retirement right, etc. in the bureaucratic regimes. And the removal of these assurances with the dissolution of bureaucratic regimes and that the proletariat has no other option but its own actual struggle to secure its job and life guarantee is an indication of this situation.

“Labour discipline” based on bureaucratic hierarchy from above also determined the attitude of the working class towards the obligation to work. The “lack of discipline at work” which was considered a “passive resistance” of the worker against the state in the USSR and countries alike is an expression of the deep alienation workers find themselves in. While we were examining the features of transition period we said: Although it will not amount to the comfort of the future classless society, a labour regime controlled by workers themselves as their own bosses will not create the kind of problems that would emerge when the proletariat is forced by an alien power like the dominant bureaucracy. We can now add: a situation where the proletariat itself holds the ropes of the production process, and makes its own conscious decisions to sacrifice if need be, is by no means similar to a situation where workers are forced to work by an alien power, i.e. the bureaucracy.

In the former case workers will not be alien to the production process even if they eventually feel tired. In the latter case, though, workers take their revenge from an alienating labour regime by passive resistance, dodging, etc. Although such a “job security” that propels the proletariat to laziness, dodging, alcoholism, degeneration out of an instinct of resistance to the bureaucratic regime can be significant compared with the evil of capitalist unemployment, it cannot be counted as a genuine historical gain of the proletariat. On the other hand –a peculiarity of the bureaucratic regime– the dominant bureaucracy can well become unconcerned about the production process once it is satisfied by its own subsistence. However, this does not change the fact that the labour regime in these countries is set up in such a way that the destiny of workers as to their employment lies between the lips of the bureaucrat.

Bureaucracy is a state-based class

Marx points out in Critique Of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right to the fact that state bureaucracy possesses the state, that state is the “private property” of the bureaucracy. This situation does not lift the state bureaucracy to a position of an independent class in capitalist society, although it is granted a privileged position. Even though this bureaucracy can acquire a relatively independent position in political sphere in periods of severe crisis that shake the bourgeois order, in the final analysis it could not go beyond a governing caste, a social layer within the bourgeois class. Marx and Engels give a general clue in The German Ideology for the analysis of a possible conflict between capitalists as part of bourgeoisie and the politicians, writers, managers, etc. that are experts in the administration of the bourgeois state:

The division of labour, … as one of the chief forces of history up till now, manifests itself also in the ruling class as the division of mental and material labour, so that inside this class one part appears as the thinkers of the class…

And they continue:

Within this class this cleavage can even develop into a certain opposition and hostility between the two parts, which, however, in the case of a practical collision, in which the class itself is endangered, automatically comes to nothing, in which case there also vanishes the semblance that the ruling ideas were not the ideas of the ruling class and had a power distinct from the power of this class.[10]

Therefore the Marxist approach determines that, in the final analysis, the rulers will be those who privately own the means of production in the class societies based on private property. In this kind of societies political sphere is dependent on economic sphere, although it can acquire a relative independence under certain conditions.

The problem of state lies at the heart of the difference between class societies based on private property on the means of production and class societies based on state ownership on the means of production (Asiatic form of society as a historical category). In all the social formations in the first category, however “independent” it may appear in the face of society, the state, in the final analysis, is the state of the economically dominant class, that is, the class holding the private property on the means of production. In the social formations in the latter category, though, economic sphere and political sphere are intertwined such that the problem of sovereignty turns into the problem of “the ownership of the state”. In the social formations where ownership on the basic means of production takes the form of state ownership those who hold the state –that is, political power– will also hold the economic power. In such a case, the position of owning the state will determine who is the sovereign in economic sense.

It is this very fact that constitutes the basic starting point in explaining the sovereign position of the proletariat in the dictatorship of the proletariat. Marxism stipulates that the proletariat, after having lifted itself to the position of political sovereignty by a political revolution, should also lift itself to the position of economic sovereignty by nationalising the basic means of production. Since as long as these means of production are privately owned by the bourgeoisie, it could only be a daydream for the proletariat to preserve the political sovereignty it has acquired. The proletariat can maintain its sovereignty if and only if the workers’ state takes into its monopoly the ownership of the basic means of production. But, here another vital problem comes to the fore. If the state is the organisation of new masters (the bureaucracy) who substitute themselves for the proletariat, instead of the proletariat organised as the sovereign class, then we can speak of neither political nor economic sovereignty of the proletariat. Because in a situation where ownership, the basis of economic sovereignty, is concentrated into state ownership, those elements who possess the state would also possess both political and economic power.

In the bureaucratic regimes which we deal with, the state is the property of the bureaucracy. Therefore this bureaucracy is a dominant class in both political and economic sense. It represents an organised collective power that has become independent from society and placed itself at the top of it. Here the bureaucracy is a “collective exploiter” dominant class, collectively possessing the right to dispose the state ownership of the means of production.

At this point we should return to the starting point and recall Marx’s idea that says “the bureaucracy possesses the state”. In the class societies based on private property, however independent it becomes, the bureaucracy remains, in the final analysis, as a dependent element of that class who has the economic sovereignty (i.e. the private property owning class). Yet in a social formation which is based on state ownership, if the state is possessed by the bureaucracy, then this “bureaucracy” will not be a dependent element of or an addendum of any other power.

Or, should we ask “can it be?” rather than saying “it will not be”? Is there a wealthy class upon which the bureaucracy will in the final analysis be “dependent” under circumstances where the means of production are nationalised, abolishing the conditions of sovereignty of the wealthy classes. Of course, there is not. And, again in this case, can we define the bureaucracy who possesses the state as a social force, a social caste “dependent” in the final analysis on the proletariat? In order to make such a definition, the proletariat should have in its hands the source of sovereignty to make the bureaucracy dependent on itself. However, since the proletariat is not a private property owning class, the one and only fortune it can enjoy is, so to speak, “to possess the state”, i.e. to organise itself as a ruling class. And this could be nothing but the practical existence of a workers’ state, the embodiment of the political domination of the proletariat in the form of state organisation.

Under conditions where we cannot speak of a political sovereignty of the proletariat, we can never speak of its sovereignty over the state, its possession of the state. For this reason, both in examples which are from the outset established as bureaucratic states and in the example of the USSR where the working class has lost its power to the bureaucracy by a bureaucratic counter-revolution, the working class is not a dominant class is economic sense as well. And there is no class society without a dominant class.

The peculiar character of the bureaucratic regimes comes to the fore right at this point. In these regimes that are based on state ownership, the bureaucracy who possesses political and economic power is not a political caste but a dominant class. So the phenomenon of “bureaucracy” in the bureaucratic regimes means much more than it does in the class societies based on private property. It no longer finds its raison d’etre in serving a dominant class; on the contrary it is a dominant power itself that makes others serve.

This peculiar position of the bureaucracy that has established a peculiar class sovereignty in the so-called “socialist” countries is the main reason for the historic error of the majority of the world left on the nature of this regime. Why do we use the word “peculiar”? For the following reason: until the 20th century history has never witnessed that, in the western societies based on private property, bureaucracy constituted an independent class and thus became a dominant class. This took place in the archaic-Asiatic despotic states (Egyptian, Indian, Chinese civilisations) and the later despotic structures like Russia, Mongolia, Seljuks and Ottomans.

As a matter of fact, the position of the bureaucracy has always remained the same in the ancient (slavery) state, in the feudal state and in the modern capitalist state. Of course it has gone through some changes from the point of view of the forms of organisation in connection with the transformations the state has gone through over these historical periods. But it has always remained the same in its essential character, that is, its social function. A social layer serving and dependent on the dominant class in the social organisation. From the first emergence of class societies –and thus of the first states– until the 20th century we cannot come across one single exception in the Western societies, which represents a change in this position of bureaucracy.

Only the societies of the East provide us with historical examples in which the bureaucracy constitutes an independent class while it remains as a social layer dependent on the dominant class in the class societies that emerge in the western development line (slave, feudal, capitalist). When we study the historical evolution of the Asiatic Societies, we see that the bureaucracy has managed there to constitute an independent class and even become a dominant class who controlled the despotic state. Although this peculiarity we observe in the East or ancient societies based on Asiatic mode of production has been considered as an “exceptional” line of development, in fact it occupies an overwhelming place in the historical evolution of human societies and especially in the birth of early civilisations.[11]

Thus the main point that constitutes the error in those views that claim the bureaucracy in the despotic-bureaucratic dictatorships is a “privileged caste” rather than a class lies in the fact that they consider the phenomenon of bureaucracy on the basis of the character it bears in those class societies based on private property (western line of development). However, the general characterisations of Marxism about the “class” phenomenon do not mean that the bureaucracy in the Soviet Union and alike countries cannot be an independent class. On the contrary they point to the need to investigate this bureaucracy on the basis of the peculiarities (state ownership) of these social formations.

In a brief description Trotsky touches upon the class phenomenon in The Revolution Betrayed with the following words: “Classes are characterised by their position in the social system of economy, and primarily by their relation to the means of production.”[12]

And Lenin defines classes in the following way:

Classes are large groups of people differing from each other by the place they occupy in a historically determined system of social production, by their relation (in most cases fixed and formulated in law) to the means of production, by their role in the social organisation of labour, and, consequently, by the dimensions of the share of social wealth of which they dispose and the mode of acquiring it.

And he goes on to say: “Classes are groups of people one of which can appropriate the labour of another owing to the different places they occupy in a definite system of social economy.”[13]

Is it possible to speak of such an exploitation in the Soviet Union and countries alike? We have tried to show in the section devoted to the investigation of “the characteristics of the bureaucratic regime” that this is a reality rather than a possibility. This is a kind of surplus-labour exploitation which is the peculiarity of the bureaucratic regime. And it is certainly different from the surplus-value exploitation of capitalism. Besides, it is impossible for those who start from a view that exploitation is related only to class societies based on private property to distinguish the place of the bureaucratic regimes in the general picture of social formations. Those who make such an error would mix up the social formation under the bureaucratic state with the transition period where classes are to be abolished under the dictatorship of the proletariat. Or those who acknowledge the existence of exploitation in these countries, but appraise it as surplus-value exploitation, would define these bureaucratic regimes as “state capitalism”.

However, when we approach the problem on the basis of Marx’s materialist conception of history, we see that such things that emerged in the course of social evolution as the phenomenon of “exploitation”, the division between “the ruler and the producer” and the division of society into classes in general, do not necessarily depend only on the birth of private property. These have all emerged also in societies based on the Asiatic mode of production where there is no private property and all land belongs to the state. But, in the Asiatic mode of production in which state ownership is dominant, the phenomenon of exploitation and class division have different and “disguised” aspects compared with the western class societies based on private property. Marx points to this difference of social structure in the ancient East in his writings in which he analyses the Asiatic mode of production. In the third volume of Capital, where he stresses the character of the “state in Asiatic society”, Marx writes:

Should the direct producers not be confronted by a private landowner, but rather, as in Asia, under direct subordination to a state which stands over them as their landlord and simultaneously as sovereign, then rent and taxes coincide, or rather, there exists no tax which differs from this form of ground-rent. Under such circumstances, there need exist no stronger political or economic pressure than that common to all subjection to that state. The state is then the supreme lord. Sovereignty here consists in the ownership of land concentrated on a national scale. But, on the other hand, no private ownership of land exists, although there is both private and common possession and use of land.[14]

And irrespective of whether it is on the basis of private property or state property, he goes on to say, “The specific economic form, in which unpaid surplus-labour is pumped out of direct producers, determines the relationship of rulers and ruled, as it grows directly out of production itself and, in turn, reacts upon it as a determining element. Upon this, however, is founded the entire formation of the economic community which grows up out of the production relations themselves, thereby simultaneously its specific political form.”

In our previous analyses on the basis of this understanding of Marx, we explained “the specific economic form, in which unpaid surplus-labour is pumped out of direct producers” in the bureaucratic regime in the following way: “the fact that bureaucracy, who owns the state, is the sole power to decide in distribution of the products of social labour as well as being the centralised dominant power that employs the whole workforce.” Besides, it has been emphasised that the phenomenon of class division and exploitation bore much more “disguised” aspects in class societies based on state ownership compared with class societies based on private property. We should simply remember a certain part of Ottoman history, if we would like to give an example for the state-based class sovereignties in the form of Oriental despotism in history.

We are interested here in the dirlik system [the Ottoman land system in its classical age] of the Ottoman State which constitutes an example for despotic[15] states that existed in Asian societies. That is, the situation before this system which is based on the ownership of the Ottoman state on land had been dissolved. This system gave the central state an image of safeguard and observant on the land and its subjects. According to the official state ideology, the land was under the reign of the Ottoman State in the name of God. And land could only be cultivated under the authority of the state-based class (the Ottoman bureaucracy). Niyazi Berkes, a scientist known for his researches on the Ottoman social structure, says the following about the concept of “mülk” [which means “property” in contemporary Turkish] in the Ottoman system:

When we say “mülk” today we understand possession as required by the right called “the right of property”. Yet in the Ottoman system “mülk” means the thing owned by the state and this is a power; the image of power on land. In the Ottoman system “mülk” is the power in the hands of the state. The equivalent of this Arabic-origin word in western languages is “dominium”. Yet, if we take French, the equivalent of mülk in the sense of being the subject of property is “propriété”. The word “mülk” in our contemporary use means the latter. In the Ottoman system, however, “mülk” and “state” are the same. State is founded on mülk, that is the reign and “dominium” over land.

And the state ownership on land (i.e. mülk in the Ottoman sense) cannot be bought, sold, abandoned, and transferred by way of heritage. As long as political authority exists, that right exists as well and they stand together. If that right does not exist, the political authority does not exist as well, or, put in reverse, when the political authority is non-existent, that right is non-existent as well. [16]

The Soviet Union and the regimes alike resemble the reality described in the above lines with respect to the consequences of the state ownership on the basic means of production. The common point in both is the state property that cannot be “bought, sold, abandoned or inherited”. The existence of a state-based class (ruling elite) is the point of matter here. Just as in the case of old Asiatic sovereignties, “that right” (the right of sovereignty on state property) exists in the despotic-bureaucratic dictatorships (for example in the USSR) as long as political authority exists and they stand together. When that right ceases to exist, the political authority does too, and vice versa. In the USSR and those alike there had developed a right of sovereignty of bureaucracy (as the representative of the state) on the means of production. The economic sovereignty of the bureaucracy rooted in here.

Another argument of those who insist that in these societies bureaucracy cannot be taken as a dominant class is that the bureaucracy in effect does not own the property of the means of production. However the source of class domination should be sought somewhere else in a society based on state ownership. It is the collective right of sovereignty on the state property. Unlike a private property owning class, bureaucracy has neither capital nor position of being capitalist to transfer by way of inheritance. But since they hold the privilege of raising their children as the future bureaucrats (the privileged position in the educational system offered to the children of bureaucrats), they can transfer the position of “owning the state” from father to son in this way. Besides, as seen in the dissolution of state property (the dirlik system on land) into private property (the formation of a sort of system of landlordism on land) in the Ottoman Empire, we observe a similar dissolution of state ownership in the capitalist restoration process of the bureaucratic regimes under question. Thus many elements from among bureaucracy are obtaining the effective right of property and becoming bourgeois in the process of dissolution. In the past they had had the collective authority over state property. As if he was foretelling what is happening today Trotsky was saying in 1936:

One may argue that the big bureaucrat cares little what are the prevailing forms of property, provided only they guarantee him the necessary income. This argument ignores not only the instability of the bureaucrat's own rights, but also the question of his descendants. The new cult of the family has not fallen out of the clouds. Privileges have only half their worth, if they cannot be transmitted to one's children. But the right of testament is inseparable from the right of property. It is not enough to be the director of a trust; it is necessary to be a stockholder. The victory of the bureaucracy in this decisive sphere would mean its conversion into a new possessing class.[17]

But, of course, we are not interested here in that the bureaucracy has lost its state-based class character and begun to appear before us as bourgeois enjoying the right of private property as the bureaucratic regime collapsed. We are trying to explain the character of the dominant bureaucracy under the bureaucratic regime.

The characteristic feature of the state-based class is that it exists thanks to state office. Thus for example, the Western feudality where the feudal lord owns both effective and legal property of vast lands differs from the Ottoman land system (dirlik) in that the dominant class in the latter can hide behind the smoke screen of state ownership. Behind this smoke screen the state-based class can assume a misleading appearance of “holy official” who “knows everything best”, does everything “for the sake of society” (!) and wants nothing but to maintain the “divine” order. Of course, the real situation is just the opposite. The state-based class that controls the surplus-product in despotic states, also controls whole society and “hangs and murders” when necessary to maintain its order.

Due to the difference of historical ages the ideology of the state under “modern” despotic-bureaucratic regimes was naturally based on something different from “religious” or “divine” arguments which was the case in the past. Religious mysticism, which was the prevalent ideology of the state in oriental despotic societies, was replaced by another myth of contemporary sort, i.e. the “socialism in one country”, under the modern bureaucratic states. But the common point was the importance attributed by the state-based class to maintaining the “status quo”. In the Ottoman Empire, for example, this need found its expression under the name of maintaining the “order”.

Such a state order mentioned can only stand on such a static society that is likened to a flock of sheep. It cannot stand on a society that tends to change all the time. It would be toppled over. That is why the Ottoman administrators and writers always speak of “order”.[18]

The bureaucratic state order has also survived thanks to a static social order. Thus it is not an accident that the policy of the Stalinist bureaucracy finds its expression in the principle of “maintaining the status quo”. The dominant bureaucrats, who can stay as member of the state-based class as long as they hold their state office, have maintained their power in a constant state of anxiety to keep their positions even when they occupy the highest offices. The bureaucrat can maintain his/her dominant position as long as he/she is not defeated in the table of wolves of deadly war within the state-based class. Only in this way can he/she get his/her share from social surplus-product appropriated collectively by the bureaucracy. Therefore we should not be surprised at the similarity between the intrigues in the power struggles of the Stalinist bureaucracy and the palace intrigues in oriental Asiatic societies.

Our point in giving these examples is not to put forward an argument that the social formations like the Soviet Union or those alike are the exact counterparts of despotic-Asiatic mode of production of the past. But still we need to make such an analogy for the purpose of reminding that such dominant classes that are based on state ownership and such socio-economic formations that regulate the distribution of surplus-product thanks to this mode of domination do exist in history. On the other hand, there is of course an essential similarity between them, with the difference that the despotic bureaucratic regimes of twentieth century do not stand on Asiatic agricultural communes of the past, but on a campaign of industrialisation to catch up with the modern level of productive forces.

The production relations that are based on state ownership are as if a reappearance of a mode of dominance of the past (oriental despotism) in industrial era, under the forms of production relations conditioned by state ownership. Therefore this situation that appears in modern era is as if an anachronism.

It is also of great importance from the point of view of explaining the class nature of the dominant bureaucracy to approach the specific features of despotic-bureaucratic regimes in the light of historical examples. Since if specific features of such a socio-economic formation are not grasped correctly, then misconceptions of any type could prevail. Because this socio-economic formation appears in the age of capitalism as a consequence of bringing an end to the workings of capitalism and is based on state ownership. For example, those who cannot put forward a consistent and clear explanation to the nature of these regimes often describe them as “the domination of the petty-bourgeoisie”.

However, the dictatorship of the dominant bureaucracy in no way means the dictatorship of the petty-bourgeoisie. This class is a dominant class that came to power apart from the two fundamental classes of the modern age, i.e. the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. If we analyse the components of this state-based class in the framework of its own peculiarity, we can of course consider a petty bourgeois element. To be more explicit, now that the dominant bureaucracy does not consist of extra-terrestrial creatures, there are elements that have come from old social classes (workers, petty-bourgeois, etc.) but have been totally cut off from their original class roots socially and ideologically. But this fact does not make the dictatorship of the dominant bureaucracy a dictatorship of some section of the working class. Nor does it present a scientific point of support for those who try to explain the dictatorship of the dominant bureaucracy as a sort of petty bourgeois dictatorship. In other words, it does not legitimise attempts to explain the nature of Stalinist regimes as the rising of the petty bourgeoisie to an independent position and its “eventual” seizing of power, which has a middle position in capitalist society.

The main point is not to overlook the difference of the dominant despotic class in the Stalinist regimes from the dominant classes in the societies based on private property. That is, the dominant bureaucracy is not a class which has specific roots in historical context and which has already begun taking shape within the capitalist society that has been overthrown. It is a collected class of bureaucrats who, on the basis of owning the state, have come to form a dominant class.

Bureaucratic regime has no future

If we are to draw lessons from the October Revolution as a great historical experience and the subsequent developments, we can briefly say the following: If as a result of isolation of a proletarian revolution in a relatively backward country like the Russia of 1917 the workers’ state comes to an end and a bureaucratic domination is established, then the historical movement from capitalism to communism ceases. From then on a new process sets in, where economic development strengthens the bureaucratic domination and sustains it. The economic development accomplished under bureaucratic domination constitutes the main subjective obstacle on the progress of the world revolution, let alone bringing it forward, and may cause the emergence of similar bureaucratic states. Consequently, in a situation where a proletarian revolution takes place in a backward country and is not supported by revolutions in advanced countries, it is inevitable that workers’ power will be overthrown and the social revolution that has started will cease.

The first workers’ state that had been born with the October Revolution remained alone under an imperialist siege and, in addition to this, faced the danger of a bureaucratic domination (which in the final analysis was a product of these conditions, i.e. the isolation). In the end this danger turned into a reality. Having established its power within the party and state, the bureaucracy stopped the progress of the revolution, breaking entirely with the aims of the October Revolution. The transition process that had begun with the proletarian revolution in October 1917 was blocked with a bureaucratic counter-revolution and it completely came to an end after the liquidation of the power of workers’ soviets. And a process of “national development” began under the leadership of the bureaucracy. On the basis of state ownership the bureaucracy regulated the economy with a central planning system and proclaimed that the industrialisation and economic development accomplished under its domination was the “establishment of socialism”. It presented its own bureaucratic planning system as “socialist planning”. Yet the Soviet economy was under the pressure of capitalist market outside as well as it was under the grip of bureaucratic domination inside.

Stalinists have defended for years that the Soviet economy was an economy free of crises, using a tautology: “now that socialism is an economy free of crises and the Soviet Union is socialist; then there cannot be a crisis in the Soviet economy.” However, though different from the crises of capitalist system, a very deep crisis that had already been felt and have eventually surfaced with all its might in Gorbachev’s period revealed the unsoundness of this view. Economic crises are not magical things that appear and disappear according to the practices of individuals. They are objective facts. In order to discover the reasons of the deep economic social political crisis that has broken out in Gorbachev’s time with all its consequences, one should try to understand the nature of the bureaucratic regime starting from Stalin’s period. Trotsky hinted about the crises of Soviet economy in 1930:

... the crises of Soviet economy are not merely maladies of growth, a sort of infantile sickness, but something far more significant–namely, they are the harsh curbings of the world market, the very one ‘to which,’ in Lenin’s words, ‘we are subordinated, with which we are bound up, and from which we cannot escape.’ [19]

Trotsky was completely right in this assessment. Because in an epoch when productive forces acquired a social character on an international scale, it was impossible to ensure a long term development on a national scale by cutting off from the global workings and relations of the economy. Although a significant industrial advance was accomplished and an economic growth was achieved in vast countries like the Soviet Union and China or on the basis of inter-national economic relations called “socialist bloc”, there remained an objective factor which cannot be escaped from as Lenin and Trotsky pointed out: the existence and pressure of the world capitalist system.

Many assessments have been made in the subsequent years, both positive and negative, about the economic development in the so called “socialist” countries. The story of ostensibly never ending race between the so called two “super powers” of the globe, the USSR and USA, had been raised to the point of “star wars” to be waged in space. Then with the technological advance of world capitalism in electronics, we have entered the new phase which the bourgeois ideologues have begun to call “new world order”. And the news pumped out that the USSR, which was considered one of the “super powers”, has stumbled in this “race”. While it was being debated whether these news were fabrications of the secret services of imperialist powers, the real “bombshell” was exploded by the leader of the dominant bureaucracy in the Soviet Union, i.e. Gorbachev, and the acknowledgement of decadent economic conditions in the “socialist bloc” has become commonplace.

This result was not an unknown or unexpected “surprise” from the point of view of revolutionary Marxism. On the contrary, it was just the vindication of the historical materialist analysis that a social transformation to excel the capitalist system on our planet could only be the result of a breakthrough of the working class on a world scale. On the other hand, life itself revealed in the final analysis that the bureaucratic regimes have been doomed to disintegrate in the face of economic superiority and expansion potentials of the world capitalist system. But all those who had exaggerated the campaign of national development in the SU and alike are either “disappointed” or try to put off closing their eyes to the reality.

The simple fact, however, is this: the despotic-bureaucratic regime is not a historically durable and long-lived socio-economic formation that has a potential to develop on its own foundations in the face of the worldwide superiority of the capitalist mode of production. Since these regimes are not a new mode of production that excels capitalism in the course of historical evolution of human societies, they cannot be characterised as “post-capitalist societies” in this sense. Moreover, it is but an illusion that these regimes can continue a progressive evolution in the long term. The despotic-bureaucratic regime, surrounded by world capitalism in modern industrial era, is a socio-economic phenomenon that has no future on the basis of its sui generis character.

Historically, the bureaucratic power has had a past record both dependent and effective on the fate of the progress of world revolution. The bureaucratic domination is a product of conditions in which the progress of world revolution came to a halt and at the same time new upsurges were obstructed by the dominant bureaucracies. And the bureaucratic regimes are doomed either to be overthrown by a new advance of proletarian revolution on a world scale or otherwise to be brought to an end sooner or later by the disintegrating pressure of world capitalism.

The bureaucratic regime, which finds its essential embodiment in the reality of the Soviet Union, is characterised by bringing an end to the “transition process to socialism” launched by the worker’s revolution. This regime, while on the one hand stopping the progress of world proletarian revolution, is on the other hand condemned to go on its knees before capitalism sooner or later, under circumstances of capitalist hegemony over world market. Therefore the process that has set off with the establishment of the bureaucratic regime has no open end towards socialism in its natural evolution. There is only one open end, unless this bureaucratic regime is overthrown by the working class: incorporation into world capitalist system.

Today the bourgeois ideology is trying to benefit from the collapse of these bureaucratic regimes in order to earn a historical gain in a bid to blacken socialism. That it presents propaganda material of the sort “communism is the most bothersome road from capitalism to capitalism” is the depiction of the phenomenon of the bureaucratic domination in a way that suits the interests of the bourgeoisie.

On the other hand we can describe the scope of an anti-bureaucratic revolution that can begin if the proletariat conquers the political power in those countries where bureaucratic dictatorships rule as follows: oust the bureaucracy from power as a dominant class; smash the old bureaucratic state apparatus; put an end to the workings of the bureaucratic regime; turn the planning of economy directly by workers’ soviets into an effective reality; thus start the transition process from capitalism to communism by ensuring proletariat’s political and economic domination!

To attempt to fit a revolution of this scope into a definition of mere “political revolution” would contradict with its real dimensions. Since from a Marxist point of view, a revolution which has to conquer the political power at its first step in order to transform the actual production relations is, in fact, a social revolution in terms of its whole scope. Although anti-bureaucratic revolutions appear, when defined in terms of their political aims, as an action that oust the dominant bureaucracy, their broader content amounts to a revolution that has its task as putting an end to the power of an alien class (bureaucracy) and the production relations under its domination, which means a social revolution.

In conclusion, unless the bureaucratic regimes are overthrown by a working class revolution, the bureaucracy will be -and is- integrating step by step into world capitalism. The bureaucracy will be passing through its own process of transformation which amounts to a dissolution costing great sufferings and pains to the proletariat in both material and moral sense. Thus there are two possibilities ahead in such a situation:

  • Either the bureaucratic regime is overthrown by a new proletarian revolution and the ongoing process towards an integration into capitalism is put an end to,
  • Or the collapse of the bureaucratic regime evolving into capitalism by direct or indirect interventions of the world bourgeoisie and attachment of these countries to the world capitalist system.

Although it may seem as a third alternative that a military dictatorship is established by an intervention of civil-military bureaucracy that insists on the continuation of the bureaucratic regime, this would mean, in the final analysis, nothing more than interrupting this two-alternative process for a certain period.

If the second alternative materialises, those bureaucrats who claimed once that they acted in the name of the working class, will become capitalists owning private property. Or another section will become high ranking bureaucrats of the upstart capitalism; i.e. become bourgeois through this way. If such a process reaches its conclusion in its own way, the bureaucratic state and the bureaucratic regime will come to an end and bourgeois state and capitalist order known very well by humanity will resurrect. The fact that the German Democratic Republic has now become part of united capitalist Germany, melting into history, as a result of the storm in the East European countries in 1989, gives a sufficient idea about the nature of such a transformation.

[1] Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. III, p.26

[2] Marx, Capital, Vol. III, p.919

[3] Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. III, p.371

[4] We will remind here the words of Trotsky that bring clarity to the matter: “In order to become social, private property must as inevitably pass through the state stage as the caterpillar in order to become a butterfly must pass through the pupal stage. But the pupa is not a butterfly. Myriads of pupae perish without ever becoming butterflies. State property becomes the property of "the whole people" only to the degree that social privilege and differentiation disappear, and therewith the necessity of the state. In other words: state property is converted into socialist property in proportion as it ceases to be state property.” (Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed, p.237)

[5] Quoted in M. Gündüz, Bürokrasi ve Sosyalist Demokrasi [Bureaucracy and Socialist Democracy], February 1990, pp.117-118

[6] We will not go into the reasons here, as we deal with the view that appraises these regimes as “state capitalism” in another chapter.

[7] Marx, Capital, Vol. III, p.919.

[8] Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, p.201-202

[9] Marx, Capital, Vol. I, p.226

[10] Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, pp.47-48 and 48

[11] Marx was the first to note this peculiarity and attempt to scientifically explain the historical reasons of this. It is known that Asiatic mode of production and Oriental despotism occupied an important place in his works. (see Grundrisse and Capital)

[12] Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed, p.248

[13] Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 29, s.421

[14] Marx, Capital, Vol. III, p.919

[15] In relation to the concept of “despot” Niyazi Berkes says: “ ‘kapı’ [literally means gate] (later became Supreme, Sublime kapı) is the symbol of power, of political power. Its equivalent in the west is ‘dominium’; coming from Latin ‘dominus’. In fact it meant ‘the master of house’. Its equivalent in Greek is ‘despotis’.... The term ‘despotis’ faded in the west during the Medieval ages, but retained in the east. Thanks to Aristotle it became a title attached to Oriental sovereigns like Iranian sovereigns.... There are two meanings of “kapılanma” [entering the service of despot’s kapı]: to go into the refuge of someone, be subordinate. Or, to become attached to someone, be called with his name, obtain a status thanks to this. (Türkiye İktisat Tarihi [Economic History of Turkey], v.1, pp.99)

Aside from this, speaking of misinterpretations of the term “despotism”, Berkes points out that this term does not mean arbitrariness, tyranny, slave-ownership, but the authority that rules the kul [which means both the mortal human in relation to God and a sort of slave]: “Being master means a general power, an authority over public; i.e. it has a political meaning; it has not a meaning of private property or of owning a person. It does not mean owning slaves or serfs, but owning authority. (ibid, p.132)

[16] Niyazi Berkes, Türkiye İktisat Tarihi [Economic History of Turkey], v.1, pp. 60-61

[17] Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed, p.254

[18] Niyazi Berkes, Türkiye İktisat Tarihi [Economic History of Turkey], v.1, pp. 58

[19] Trotsky, Permanent Revolution and Results and Prospects, p.154.