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The Precarious Future of the Nation-State (2)

The industrial revolution develops new political

structures - extensive colonization of the entire planet,
the diversified domination of the bourgeoisie through
parliamentary systems or dictatorships, always with
the widespread use of war, violence against workers
and colonized peoples.

From an economic point of view, the liberal capitalism

produces cartels, imperialism, and develops economic
and political functions’ fusion formulas through state
capitalism and fascism.

Westerners present themselves as the builders of

history, the only ones capable of defining the future,
and therefore the carriers of universality.

B - Imperialism and its limits

8 - The Industrial Revolution

9 - The construction of imperialism

10 - Mature imperialism

11 - The Two Great Wars and the Dawn of Keynesianism

12 - State Capitalism and Fascism

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8- The Industrial Revolution

The group of several profound alterations at the production level (spinning machine,
steam engines, and channel construction, among others), work and technology, was
called Industrial Revolution and ran for a century, from the second half of the XVIII
century1, the starting epoch for the first cycle defined by Kondratiev2 to characterize the

The first factory can be symbolically designated as with having arisen in Cromford, England in 1771
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capitalist carousel, with expansion periods and others of contraction of the economic
activity, with marked effects on social welfare and in the ambit of politics and military

Returning to England, the Industrial Revolution and the salaried labour were leading
workers to greatly precarious living and to a strong collective consciousness of their
condition. In the north of the country they decided to elect, outside the legal framework,
deputies to the Parliament, to represent them; and when, in 1819, 100,000 workers
assembled in Manchester, the state, through cavalry, intervened to establish the power
of the richest classes in what came to be called the Peterloo massacre.

From the above episodes result unforgettable and structural teachings to shape the
relationship between labour and capital, between the multitude and the institutions that
represent the interests of capital.

 The power of capitalism was making a mark of its anti-social character, a

constant that has been maintained, almost two centuries having passed; that is to
say, whenever the interests of capital are at stake, the political classes invariably
show that those are the interests they must defend, regardless of what or who gets
hurt – workers, the public purse, the environment.

 The state would not henceforth cease to be the collective capitalist that creates
the hierarchy and politically organizes and aggregates the strategic primacy of the
interests of capital; and, as such, the dedicated shepherd and repressor of the
multitude. Peterloo may also mean how illusory it is to imagine the state as a
benefactor of the multitude; even when it increases the minimum wages or opens a
school it only incurs on those costs to ensure the smooth continuity of profit

 Finally, the need for an autonomous struggle of the workers against the state
institutions, as well as for democratic decision and organization structures, in parallel
to those of the capitalists and the political classes, became clear. It became evident
that it is not possible to extinguish capitalism by the natural evolution of its own
structures, as it later came to be admitted (Bernstein and Hilferding); and that the
replacement of private capitalists by large monopolistic institutions (Hilferding) or by
the state itself (Lenin, Trotsky, Bukharin, Varga, and Stalin) does not change the
precariousness of the dispossessed.

The Kondratiev waves or cycles are constituted by periods of expansion and periods of depression of the economic
activity that are related to the limitations, contradictions and political and social disasters inherent in capitalism, as well
as to the changes introduced by the technological innovations. Thus, four cycles are considered: 1790/1848, 1848/1890,
1890/1945, 1946/2008
Out of curiosity, it should be noted that Kondratiev based his conclusions on statistical data and complex and long
calculations. However spreading the idea of cycles in capitalism did not fit into the early twentieth-century thesis that
capitalism was in a terminal stage (recall Lenin's "Imperialism-Supreme State of Capitalism" text that still has believers
... a century later). Because the calculations did not coincide with the political speculation, a criminal named Trotsky
took care of inventing numbers that contradicted Kondratiev's study and suited political expediency, and then his twin
brother Stalin would eventually have Kondratiev assassinated as a heretic of "socialist" dogma.
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9 - The construction of imperialism

England was to become, in the mid-nineteenth century, the dominant nation-state.

Internally, the English model combined a creative legislative power of the bourgeoisie,
in line with a monarch without pretensions of returning to absolutism, still very present
in continental Europe. This union was materialized in a bipartisan hegemonic block –
still in existence today in the country – that developed colonial expansionism and
military power, mainly through the dominion of the seas, following Trafalgar and
Waterloo, with the consequent defeat of the French attempts to reach global
hegemony. This hegemony included a repressive state in what workforce management
is concerned.

In turn, the entry into industrial capitalism generates the workers’ autonomous struggle
for working time reduction and political rights; the appearance of the Communist Party
Manifest in 1848 reflects its autonomy as a social class, in an internationalist logic, with
a refusal of nationalism and defending the appropriation of the privately owned
production means. The first practical application of this autonomy, in 1871, was to be
ephemeral, with the Paris Commune which, among other measures, approved the
reduction of working hours; equality between the sexes; the abolition of the death
sentence; the election of judges; free, laic and mandatory education; that nationality
could not be taken into account; the abolition of the regular army; transforming
churches into debate places... In order to overthrow the Commune, the French
government having been chased away to Versailles by the insurgents, made an
armistice with the Prussians that had defeated it and the latter liberated imprisoned
French soldiers; then they jointly launched an offensive against the communards: by
the end of the repression there were 80000 dead, mostly executed, and this number
was not larger because an epidemic was feared.

The English political model, because of its success, inspired other bourgeoisies,
interested in sharing global markets or seeking to maximize their space in Europe,
especially for the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian multinational mosaics, aiming at their
dismantling and commercial advantages. To this purpose, the correspondence
principle "every nation with its state" made its appearance and was applied in Eastern
Europe, first to Greece and then to Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria, while at the same
time it favoured Italian unification.

This period, begun with the revolts of 1845/8 in Europe, corresponded to changes
towards liberal monarchies, with the evident preponderance of the respective
bourgeoisie; and to attempts to establish nation-states or the access to elementary
rights of citizenship and democracy in Hungary, Italy, amongst Czech, Polish and
German, the latter integrated into an archaic German Confederation.

The new wave of technological innovations in the second half of the nineteenth century
(steam ships and trains, steel, telegraph, machine tools and others) promoted great
advances in productivity and demanded higher qualifications from the workers, as well
as huge volumes of capital, generators of the creation of conglomerates and
monopolies, which gave rise to the second Kondratiev wave.
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The wave’s declining phase develops once the construction surge of large railway
infrastructures or channels ends and, as a result, depression appears with a major
financial crisis, with a drop in investment, reduction of loans and lowering of interest
rates, a period ranging from the mid-1870s to 1896. This would result in the creation of
cartels and the large concentration of capital that would favour the emergence of new
oil-based activities in chemistry and heavy metallurgy, with steam energy overtaking
the hydraulic one, with the replacement of iron by steel and the construction of
wastewater networks.

The third Kondratiev wave starts in the late nineteenth century as the recovery from the
above mentioned financial crisis. The golden age of imperialism debuts, until World
War I, which is followed by a new depression period that effectively ends only with the
unbridled production of weapons within the context of World War II; this, despite the
Keynesian policies (avant la lettre) implemented in the United States and Nazi
Germany, which we will discuss later.

Industrial cartels intertwine with financial capital and take on enormous relevance,
bellying Adam Smith's lyrical ideas about perfect competition. This concentration of
capital, in order to reproduce itself, requires the mobilization of the respective States
and political classes to defend its interests, against the whole of workers, and to favour
foreign markets’ disputes. A very concentrated, aggressive capitalism arises, with rival
national groups in tight competition for the allocation of politically fragile or "unowned"
territories, and with the respective states acting as agents of those cartels, their
national champions. This fierce struggle has few participants at the top: in Europe,
England, France, and Germany which, having emerged as the winner of the war with
France a few years earlier and possessing an enormous industrial strength and great
population, aspired to have colonial territories in Africa and access to its resources, in
addition to the US and a surprising Japan that, in a few decades, changed from feudal
structures to a very aggressive imperialism, disputing with the western powers the
fragile China, and humiliating Russia with a military defeat in 1905. The next places in
the hierarchy are taken by, in Europe, several mid-powers such as Russia, Austria-
Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, followed by nation states of lesser size but with
colonial possessions, such as Spain, dispossessed by the US on the turn of the
century of its American and the East domains, and Portugal.

It is in this context that the Berlin Conference for the allocation of Africa, being the only
space on the planet that the imperialist powers had not yet fully occupied, is held. The
dominant elements are the three great European powers. The Congo was handed over
to a company whose shareholder was the king of Belgium, under whose orders a
genocide was carried out among the peoples of the region (2 to 15 million people, the
number is not well known) tied to forced labour and slavery for the enrichment of the
"civilized" monarch; as the victims had black skin and little understanding of finances,
they never reached the notoriety of the Jews murdered by the Nazis. A few years later,
the United States seized the Spanish colonies in America and the Pacific, reducing
Spain to a residual colonial space in North Africa; and, during the same period the wars
between the English and the Boers were being waged for the domination of South
Africa. By the end of this repartition only Liberia, free of the formal tutelage of the USA
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since 1847, Libya, subtracted from the Ottomans by Italy – late comer to colonial
allocation – and Ethiopia, which was also occupied by Mussolini's Italy, but only in
1936, had escaped.

The Portuguese case is special. It possessed colonial territories but did not have an
industrial development that fomented its intensive exploitation; and that, to the great
powers, was a waste, an object of covetousness and collusion. The episode of the pink
map evidenced a Portugal that wanted to bite more than it could chew but managed to
keep its colonies – extended inland – benefiting from the rivalries of the great powers .

From a technological point of view, Kondratiev's third wave includes electric motors and
power tools, the electrification of factory and domestic buildings, internal combustion
engines and cars, radio and telephony, aluminium metallurgy, the so-called scientific
management and mass production. These technologies and work methods also had an
impact on the qualification of work for which it was no longer enough to only have
experience but, above all, required of the workers a higher education. This led to a
greater organizational capacity by the workers, with a reflection on the number of
adhesions to unions and an increase of those, as well as to the parties based on the
working classes, especially the German SPD, which came to degenerate markedly
after the First World War until it reached, in the present, a dedicated role in the
implementation of the neoliberal and anti-social 2010 Agenda, carried out by Gerhard
Schroeder, which Merkel, gratefully, inherited.

As far as manufacturing work is concerned, Taylor has studied and applied (1911)
specialization and production segmentation logics to achieve greater productivity and
thereby increase profits; while at Bethlehem Steel, where he worked, productivity
increased fourfold, wages increased from € 1.15 to € 1.85 a day. On the one hand, this
segmentation removed power from the skilled workers, increased the number of the
unqualified, and created the figure of the supervisor, the bureaucrat who watched over
the progress of production. Taylor, while knowing the strategic importance of the
bureaucrat from an administrative point of view and his relevance as custodian of the
interests of capital, did not disguise his contempt for the bureaucrat is "so stupid and
phlegmatic that his mind was more like an ox’s."

The method allowed better paying the workers, shorter working hours, longer rest
periods and working conditions that avoided strikes and disruption of the capital-
producing machine. It aimed to harmonize the interests of the capitalists with those of
the workers, through a greater rationalization of the productive process, with the
limitation of the tasks to repetitive acts that made the workers mere tools, with
difficulties in understanding the productive process, infantilized, thus extending and
reinforcing the role of hierarchies within the company. Taylor, had no difficulty in saying
that his method "made any kind of labour problem or strike impossible", which,

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however, did not prevent strong reactions from workers (e.g. Renault's strike in 1912)
during an epoch of great labour unrest, also in the USA3.

Almost in parallel, Henry Ford (1913) - who was unaware of Taylor's existence -
generated the mass production of the same product that would make it relatively
cheap, especially if associated with the "rationalization" of work defended by Taylor;
the latter was proposing changes at the production level and Ford was moving forward
with conditions for market enlargement and consumption increase4, and this interaction
naturally increased profits and grew the accumulated capital. Ford understood that the
tens of thousands of workers of his factories, benefiting from better wages, would
become consumers of their own products; a reality that in neoliberal capitalism only
happens through advertising infestation and recourse to debt, always in step with
austerity. Mass production was corresponded to by mass consumption, at the same
time that a mass of men were forced to go to war in the name of their homelands.

10 - Mature imperialism

The whole period extending from the last quarter of the nineteenth century and, in
particular, the two world wars, up to 1945, corresponds to what Hilferding and, later,
Lenin called imperialism; the former in the sense of financial capital and the latter
interpreting it as the interpenetration of banks and industry. After the revolution of 1917,
Lenin focused on the struggle for survival of the new regime against the armies of the
Western powers, in the context of World War I, against subsequent external
interventions aimed at destroying the Soviet state, juggling civil war and the revolts of
the nations included in the inheritance of the tsarist state and also in the nullification of
any social and political opposition to the Bolshevik party. And, on the other hand, the
fact that the planned revolution of the Western workers was not generalized, or
victorious, led to the isolation of the country.

The next period, the 1920s and 1930s, are years of depression, of development of the
nationalist and fascist perversions, accompanied by a strong distrust and hostility
towards the USSR, where the hostility of the great powers came to be interpreted as
imperialism. Later, already in the post-war period, with the transition to a bipolar world,
where the USSR constituted one of those poles, Baran and Sweezy establish a
relationship between imperialism and the hegemonic character of the US, embodied by
its multinationals. For his part, Mandel says that production and consumption are

Lenin understood Taylorism in an economistic way. He argued that it would be a good way to increase productivity,
but he minimized the violence of the pressure exerted on the workers, relegated to atomized tasks, thus making it
difficult to understand the productive process, which would be tasked only to the managers ... who would come to be the
dominant group in the CPSU and in the USSR, the state capitalism that they deployed having had the results that are
known. The Kronstadt massacre, the crushing of the Makhno rebellion, the application of the NEP and the Labor Code
of 1922, made any logic of workers' control fade away, rendering state’s instruments the soviets, factory committees
and trade unions.
Mass production lowered the price of the celebrated Ford T from $ 900 to $ 350, which was about 20 percent of a Ford
employee's annual income. It is worth asking how many workers today can afford to buy a new car ... with 20% of their
annual income.
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commanded by multinationals linked to the nation-state from which they emanate, even
if they maintain branches in other countries.

One of the characteristics of this period between the two Great Wars was that capital
essentially had a national basis, with each of the more advanced countries holding
large corporations, their conglomerates and groups, their financial system, in addition
to its own currency, militarized borders and points of collection of customs duties, as
protective instruments of the hunting grounds of such large national companies. This
defence from outside goods’ intrusion converged with exacerbated nationalisms and
fascism, defenders of maximum self-sufficiency, which marked the policy in most
European countries.

This large concentration of capital nullified the fiction of competitive, egalitarian

capitalism and, on the contrary, generated monopoly profits, the advantages of
controlling markets and prices in general, the ability to impose labour prices and
influence the political class that, for its part, assumed, as determinants of performance,
the interests of large companies. Once again, the unity between capitalists and the
state in the control and definition of national politics, in the face of external competition
practiced by other nation-states where the model was the same, was reinforced; and
this was all the more facilitated because the political weight of the nobility and the large
landowners had been reduced, since industry was the dominant activity, integrated with
national finance.

Resistance to the imperialist model in the more advanced countries came from the
working classes, whose high point in the defence of systemic changes was in the
1920s, before and in response to the fascist drifts; and that because internationalism,
the denial of country loyalties, and the primacy of the people of the same condition as
poor and exploited, had suffered a setback when workers sought to kill other workers in
the trenches of the 1914/18 war.

We understand imperialism as the geopolitical, aggressive, and warlike formula centred

on the role of the dominant nation-states, in which an intimate interplay between the
state apparatus managed by a political class, on the one hand, is manifested; and with
cartels of national origin, on the other, which we can designate as national champions.
From this national communion, conflicts and frequent wars against the competition and
amongst the various nation-states result, vying for the appropriation of resources and
markets, in which there is no escape for the dominated peoples (colonized or not) who
have nothing to gain from these disputes and conflicts. As we will explain in the
following text, this model is no longer dominant today.

11 - The Two Great Wars and the Dawn of Keynesianism

Technological evolution at the beginning of the twentieth century was so fast that, in
the case of armaments, it evolved considerably in its fire and death efficacy, widening
the inequalities between the great powers and those of lesser importance, to say
nothing of its overwhelming superiority over the subjugated peoples of the colonial
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periphery, as was observed, for example, in the war the English made on the Zulus.
The aristocratic states, in the 1914/18 war, did not hesitate to send hundreds of
thousands of soldiers to true carnage, replicating the tactics of the Franco-Prussian war
... about forty years earlier, when the technology was much less deadly. In the Second
World War, for example, in the invasion of Poland, the German panzer came to face…
soldiers on horseback. It must be said, in honour of the bravery of the generals, that, at
that time, they always remained in the rear, observing their soldiers' exposure to the
fire of the enemy, offering their bodies in defence of the ... homeland.

In the Second War chapter, destruction and death was far superior, especially because
it was associated with practices of ethnic-cultural genocide by the Nazis (victimizing
Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, homosexuals) or the politicians (reaching anarchists and
communists); but also in the context of the suicidal practices of the Japanese kamikaze
or of the two US savage experiments of atomic bomb dropping on civilian populations.

Later war situations remained more localized but, as a whole, they gained duration,
and it can be said that the sound of shots constitutes the constant "music" that has
echoed on the planet since World War II. After the era of colonization, with the
independences dragging on until the middle of the 70's, the appropriation of wealth no
longer has the goal of colonial conquest of territory but that of the control of its
resources, through businesses, maintaining a formally sovereign local government
dominated by military or civil gangs of bloodthirsty looters.

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The failure of the 1848 Revolution had, in Germany, enormous consequences. In
England and France, power became consolidated around a bourgeoisie that merged
aristocracy with the former, the latter having been much weakened subsequently to
1789, in France, in spite of the monarchical restoration finished in Sedan. The
burgeoning industrialization of Germany took place in parallel with the development of
a good education system and with the pioneering act of having created a social
security; not because Bismarck was a humanist but because there was a need for
skilled workers (technical education was born in Germany) who would not often miss
work due to sickness or would feel attracted by the economic or political claims.

These very modern characteristics coexisted with the power of the state handed over
to Prussian hegemony, and the King of Prussia was proclaimed Kaiser (Caesar,
emperor) of Germany at Versailles, by Bismarck’s recommendation, following the
victory in the Franco-Prussian war. Power in Germany was dominated by a militaristic
aristocracy that had deep roots in time, the Teutonic Order, which had been the
protagonist of a long struggle to expel and submit Slavs and Baltics and which, in the
process of Prussian hegemony, overcame the liberal Hanseatic cities, having such a
vast and diversified list of princes, counts... late heirs of Charlemagne’s Holy Roman-
German Empire. This hatred and contempt against the Slavs run deep in the German
aristocracy but also in intellectuals, such as Marx; and it was applied in a genocidal
way in the sequence of the Nazi invasion of the USSR in 1941.

The defeat in 1918 – with the capitulation, the Versailles humiliation, the loss of
territories, population, and the loss of the colonial empire – overturned the monarchy
and the power of the aristocracy, generating years of political crisis, brutal inflation,
unemployment and poverty, which eventually led Hitler to power, on the basis of a
revanchist program against the dictates of Versailles, the return to a strong state, with
the adoption of a genocidal theory of purification of the Aryan race and occupation of
territory where non-Aryans lived, in addition to the persecution of all of those who
would not see themselves reflected in the fascist program. The military aristocracy was
very sensitive to the humiliations of 1918, feeling betrayed by the capitulation of the
Kaiser and, although it despised a paltry painter (of little merit, to add insult to injury)
such as Hitler without pedigree or proper education, did not hesitate to collude up with
him, against the dictates of Versailles, demanding only of the Chancellor the slaughter
of the SA, the Nazi party’s private troops, which the arrogant and aristocratic militarists

The importance of the State, in the German tradition, is evidenced by a program which
came to be conceptualized shortly afterwards by Keynes, with the result that this type
of economic policies would later be called Keynesian. In the German case they
contemplated the use of large public funds in support of enterprises, investment and
reduction of the massive unemployment and, also, a public infrastructure building
program linked to the production of weapons; a program with many similarities to the
one carried out in the USA, the New Deal. This program had as fundamental pieces the
konzern (conglomerates of companies) having at the top the minister von Schacht, a
man connected with the banks. All this was associated with a policy of low salaries and
paternalistic militarization of labour, animated by nationalist, racist and hygienist
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propaganda, with broad traces derived from the Italian experiment with Mussolini, who
had also served as a model for Salazar’s regime. This action of the state also extended
to leisure, sports and culture, as part of an unequivocal preparation for war.

Economic policy with a strong commitment by the state to the viability of capitalism had
common traits in the German and United States cases, starting with the structural
causes of deep economic depression; Germany with unemployment and hyperinflation
and the United States following the break-up of the stock market in 1929. Their labour
policies, however, were distinct, since in the USA a minimum wage and support for the
unemployed and the elderly were created, with the government supporting the trade
unions’ role, as a way of integrating them into a negotiating and conservative logic, in
the view of the most powerful entrepreneurs. However, in both Germany and the US,
the improvement in the economic situation had its real leverage in the production of
armaments; regardless of it having stalled in Germany with the end of the war, it
continued to anchor American prosperity later on5 through conflicts where they
participated directly or by proxy, or with the creation of a privileged market - the NATO

12 - State Capitalism and Fascism

The trough of Kondratiev’s third wave corresponds to the beginning of the depression
that was consolidated at the end of World War I and would last until the arms race,
reinforced in the US and Germany with public construction works, reversed the trend.
This led to the autocratic closure, the reaction to the Russian revolution, the
management of capital by the social-democratic parties (in the vain hope of a natural
and peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism) as the result of the concentration
of means in the great cartels; which, actually, came to favour the formation of fascist
regimes. These have proliferated in the countries of the European periphery, economic
back-waters and lacking established pluralist political regimes, such as Portugal, Spain,
Greece, Hungary, Romania... Apart from Italy, a country marked by the difference
between the North and the South, and the industrialized Germany.

Fascism precisely corresponds to a fusion between the powers of the state and the
capitalists, on a much higher level than that of the typical liberal powers; the political
power is marked by a messianic character that demands the adhesion of the whole
people, a military discipline in the workplace and an exacerbated nationalist fervour, of
affirmation of the putative greatness of the race. Fascism is collectivistic, centred on a
charismatic leader, around whom the whole nation must unite, searching self-
sufficiency, which requires protectionism and conquest of territories and peoples
considered less worthy – the Slavs for the Nazis, the Ethiopians for the Italians, the
"uncivilized" people of the Portuguese empire. The pursuit of self-sufficiency that
generates the greatness of the motherland calls for battles of production, sacrifice, and
the brutal crushing of any whimsy of detour, protest, or claim; and hence the existence
of a secret police with full and arbitrary powers. The nation identifies itself with the
US specialization is seen as weighing on the global economy through the production of weaponry, computer
technology and its correlate of information control, cereal production, and the reactionary ideology emanating from
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regime and with its single party, without admitting party diversity. If patriotism, as it
grows with the edification of the nation-state, has become one of its constituent props,
fascism becomes obligatory and sacrificial.

For Marx, as for Bakhunin – in spite of their differences – the liberation of the workers
from capitalism would be done by themselves, without distinction of nationality, with the
collective appropriation of the means of production and the disappearance of the
collective capitalist called the State. This inescapable utopia, disregarded by common
reactionaries and torpedoed by Trotsko-Stalinism at all times, is well evidenced in a
phrase of António Negri in a recent interview - Rousseau said that the greatest criminal
ever born was the one who said, first of all: "This is mine". But there was an even
greater criminal, Romulus, who said, "This is my border." They are the same, property
and frontier.

In the 1920s and 1930s, a state capitalism developed in Russia as a degeneration of

the 1917 revolution, with all the political, economic, social and cultural decisions,
emanating from the top of a party that confused itself with the state apparatus; a
danger already enunciated by Bakhunin in the context of his disagreements with Marx's
supporters. The various hierarchical spheres of the party constituted (and still
constitute today, in China or in Cuba) an elite, a caste or a class – the bureaucrats –
who believe they have a unique capacity to interpret reality and problems and,
simultaneously, the power to define the means, the ways of their application, and to
measure its effects on the plebs. In this way, a constituent power is established at all
times, the power of an enlightened elite that takes charge of despising or punishing any
criticism or alternative coming from the population or emanating from the very bosom of
the same party-state.

A difference to the current political classes of the market democracies is that, in these,
there is a more frequent rotation between the gangs that constitute them and that
periodically rehearse spectacles for eventual and cosmetic change (elections); in such
cases, the political classes are engaged in concerting the interests of national private
groups, multinationals and the financial system, in the exercise of a power delegated
by them. In both cases the population is forced to strive to place a substantial part of
the product of its labor in the hands of the caste, so that it may carry out the measures
they see fit, within the context of its unsurpassed and self-imputed wisdom; regardless
of this caste being a group of parties or single one, a party-state, and making less or
greater use of muscular coercion.

According to Lenin (Que Faire?), workers cannot understand what goes beyond union
issues because, at the time, the wealth extracted from colonial exploitation would divert
workers from the revolution. And therefore the need for a body of revolutionaries,
intellectualized, a vast bureaucracy capable of leading a dictatorship of the proletariat
and carrying out the historical mission of the... proletariat which, in the concrete case of
Russia had been hard hit by the World War I, by the civil war that followed it, by the
massacres of Kronstadt or in the midst of the Makhnovists revolt. In 1920, the same
Lenin (Imperialism, Supreme State of Capitalism) considered that the skilled workers
were the true agents of the bourgeoisie within the workers' movement... at a time when
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throughout Europe a strong and violent struggle of workers against the capital was
raging. What was valued, in this logic, was... the institution of the party, a caste of
bureaucrats to replace the workers as an inspired revolutionary subject. Hence the
emergence as communism transition models of state capitalism, socialism, transitions
to socialism, market socialism (NEP), socialist market economies (Vietnamese or
Laotian models)... as ways to perpetuate and legitimizing repressive and corrupt
bureaucrats. The only useful function of these party bureaucracies was to discredit
revolution amongst the workers, favoring capitalism, the issuer of a "there is no
alternative", as is very visible today.

The warring communism, with the enormous supply difficulties it created, promoted
militarized centralization, with the co-optation of tsarist army officers, the dissolution of
committees of soldiers, and the establishment of the sinister role of political
commissars; Trotsky clearly defined this centralization by saying that "in a proletarian
state militarization is the self-organization of the working class".6 The nationalization of
industry and, in 1932, of agrarian property, increased the economic activity centred on
party-state decisions, far beyond those functions typical of states - military functions,
secret services, police, concentration camps, education, health... and the importance
of the Plan continued to grow, a Plan which as a rule, was fulfilled only in propaganda,
not in reality, for example, through Stakanov's impossible work capacity.

In the USSR, where the initial internationalism was forgotten in the name of defending
the "socialist homeland", nothing was done beyond following the nationalist penchant
of the socialist-democratic parties of the more western countries, well present during
World War I, with decades of slaughter and exile ordered by Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin;
a nationalism which is also central to fascist regimes. In 1935, the Communist
International adopted the principle of the popular fronts, subscribing to Stalin's policy,
considering the USSR to be the heir of the Russian empire7. Later, within the
Communist parties, the internationalism that was still part of its rhetoric was replaced
by "international solidarity", proposed by the Italian CP at the Berlin Conference in
1976 and following the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Peoples’ solidarity and,
especially, that of the workers was forgotten and the relevance of the nation-states was
raised even with a paternalistic suzerainty based in Moscow; all this directed and
carried out by the rigid and sectarian hierarchies of the communist parties.

In the Trotsky-Stalinist scholasticism, an intentional confusion that has prevailed from

the earliest times is the consideration of nationalization, of state control, as a natural
and optimized way of freedom from capitalism, while formulas such as self-
management, collective property, community, with the absence of hierarchies and
impositions of a central and authoritarian state... forcefully capitalist, were relegated to
oblivion. Since there is no autonomy at the base, the whole decision rests at the

On the constitution of state capitalism we use elements from the "History of the Soviet Union" by Carlos Taibo.
The basis for this change are found in J. Stalin's "Marxism and the National Question" (1934), which revisits Otto
Bauer's ideas from the beginning of the century and is the subject of an immediate theoretical development by Henri
Lefèbvre "Nationalism Against Nations "(1937). This theoretical model, after 80 years, remains alive in the PCP, with its
"left patriotic politics" or in the Greek KKE that does not hide its admiration for Stalin.

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highest levels of a state that is very centralized in the decision process, authoritarian,
carried out by an omnipotent bureaucracy that is largely confused with the party that
uses planning as a programmatic and, simultaneously, control instrument of all
economic activity. This intentional confusion is still present today in what still exists of
Trotsko-Stalinism and contaminates many people who, not subscribing to it, have not
freed themselves of its influence and take the intervention of the State, in general, as
the elixir for the well-being and reduction of the role of capitalism in today's societies. In
the Portuguese case, the 1975 nationalizations were seen as a decisive step in the
march towards socialism although, in reality, it was the transmission of losses from
decolonization, the under-investment of the fascism era, and even the costs of
capitalization or restructuring of companies - paid with tax money, with IMF
interventions, with great loss of purchasing power; and that were gradually privatized,
from the 80s on, based on an agreement between the Cavaco government and the
then PS opposition’s leader, Vítor Constâncio. In short, a business between the two
factions of the Portuguese party-state, the PSD/PS or the PS/PSD, according to the

(To be continued)

The first chapter can be read here:


Soon, the last two chapters

This and other texts:




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