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99

What Communism Was

15
terms
3
notes

Derluguian, G. (2013). What Communism Was. In J. Calhoun, C. et al Does Capitalism Have a Future?. Oxford University Press, pp. 99-130

a political movement for reformation within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during the 1980s, associated with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and his glasnost ("openness") policy reform

99

During the heady years of Gorbachev's perestroika in the 1980s

—p.99 by Georgi Derluguian
confirm
3 years, 1 month ago

During the heady years of Gorbachev's perestroika in the 1980s

—p.99 by Georgi Derluguian
confirm
3 years, 1 month ago

a type of flowering plant native to tropical and subtropical regions

100

Waiting under the old jacaranda outside Maputo's Hotel Polana

—p.100 by Georgi Derluguian
unknown
3 years, 1 month ago

Waiting under the old jacaranda outside Maputo's Hotel Polana

—p.100 by Georgi Derluguian
unknown
3 years, 1 month ago

China under the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty; characterised by orderly government and social stability

102

Ming China was surely the world's manufacturing and demographic giant.

—p.102 by Georgi Derluguian
confirm
3 years, 1 month ago

Ming China was surely the world's manufacturing and demographic giant.

—p.102 by Georgi Derluguian
confirm
3 years, 1 month ago

the Mughal Empire, in the Indian subcontinent, established and ruled by a Muslim Turkic dynasty of Chagatai Turco-Mongol origin from Central Asia; though ethnically Turco-Mongol, Persianate in terms of culture; roughly 1526 and in decline until 1858 (when British rule began)

102

Shortly after 1500 the Mughals imposed their imperial rule in the inherently fractitious India.

—p.102 by Georgi Derluguian
uncertain
3 years, 1 month ago

Shortly after 1500 the Mughals imposed their imperial rule in the inherently fractitious India.

—p.102 by Georgi Derluguian
uncertain
3 years, 1 month ago

the Safavid dynasty: one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Iran, often considered the beginning of modern Iranian history (1501–1736)

103

At the very same time the Safavis were ascendent in Iran

—p.103 by Georgi Derluguian
unknown
3 years, 1 month ago

At the very same time the Safavis were ascendent in Iran

—p.103 by Georgi Derluguian
unknown
3 years, 1 month ago

a legally privileged noble class with origins in the Kingdom of Poland; gained considerable institutional privileges between 1333 and 1370 during the reign of King Casimir III the Great

104

The glorious cavalry of Polish feudal szlachta was doomed in the new epoch

—p.104 by Georgi Derluguian
unknown
3 years, 1 month ago

The glorious cavalry of Polish feudal szlachta was doomed in the new epoch

—p.104 by Georgi Derluguian
unknown
3 years, 1 month ago
105

Nobody in 1917 considered the revolution in Russia unexpected. The Russian nobility had long been haunted by the specter of serf peasants revolting to avenge their near-slave condition. A modern proletarian revolution had been awaited ever since the European upheavals of 1848. This fear/hope was fed by strikes of industrial workers met with Cossack cavalry charges. No less significant was the growth of the famous modernist intelligentsia, the middle strata of educated specialists who felt stymied by the old aristocratic bureaucracy and the generalized backwardness of their country. The intelligentsia saw itself as the guiding force of epochal renovation. This sense of lofty mission translated into a spate of subversive strategies, from creating a world-class literature to volunteer charitable activism and throwing bombs at the oppressors.

Nevertheless, the empire kept on muddling through and even registered impressive industrial growth mainly because for almost half a century it had luckily avoided losing wars, a typical trigger of revolutions. The tipping points—as observed in many other revolutions—arrived with the costly and morally embarrassing military defeats in 1905 and again in 1917. The soldiers rebelled against their commanders while the police disintegrated. The collapse of state coercion released all the long-repressed specters of rebellion: furious peasant revolts in the countryside; the now armed worker militancy in big cities; the intelligentsia enthusiastically organizing a panoply of political parties and nationalist movements that soon became independent governments in the ethnically non-Russian provinces.

—p.105 by Georgi Derluguian 3 years ago

Nobody in 1917 considered the revolution in Russia unexpected. The Russian nobility had long been haunted by the specter of serf peasants revolting to avenge their near-slave condition. A modern proletarian revolution had been awaited ever since the European upheavals of 1848. This fear/hope was fed by strikes of industrial workers met with Cossack cavalry charges. No less significant was the growth of the famous modernist intelligentsia, the middle strata of educated specialists who felt stymied by the old aristocratic bureaucracy and the generalized backwardness of their country. The intelligentsia saw itself as the guiding force of epochal renovation. This sense of lofty mission translated into a spate of subversive strategies, from creating a world-class literature to volunteer charitable activism and throwing bombs at the oppressors.

Nevertheless, the empire kept on muddling through and even registered impressive industrial growth mainly because for almost half a century it had luckily avoided losing wars, a typical trigger of revolutions. The tipping points—as observed in many other revolutions—arrived with the costly and morally embarrassing military defeats in 1905 and again in 1917. The soldiers rebelled against their commanders while the police disintegrated. The collapse of state coercion released all the long-repressed specters of rebellion: furious peasant revolts in the countryside; the now armed worker militancy in big cities; the intelligentsia enthusiastically organizing a panoply of political parties and nationalist movements that soon became independent governments in the ethnically non-Russian provinces.

—p.105 by Georgi Derluguian 3 years ago

the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind

106

followed the eschatological vision of Karl Marx

on the Bolsheviks in 1917

—p.106 by Georgi Derluguian
notable
3 years ago

followed the eschatological vision of Karl Marx

on the Bolsheviks in 1917

—p.106 by Georgi Derluguian
notable
3 years ago

a category of people within the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries who held various key administrative positions in the bureaucracy running all spheres of those countries' activity

108

Eventually the name nomenklatura would become a pejorative for stolid bureaucrats.

—p.108 by Georgi Derluguian
notable
3 years, 1 month ago

Eventually the name nomenklatura would become a pejorative for stolid bureaucrats.

—p.108 by Georgi Derluguian
notable
3 years, 1 month ago

"new eastern policy": the normalization of relations between West Germany and East Germany (and Eastern Europe) starting in 1969

111

the hopeful spirit of the 1970s German Neue Ostpolitik

—p.111 by Georgi Derluguian
uncertain
3 years, 1 month ago

the hopeful spirit of the 1970s German Neue Ostpolitik

—p.111 by Georgi Derluguian
uncertain
3 years, 1 month ago
113

Immanuel Wallerstein had been long (and very controversially) comparing communist states to factories seized by a labor union during a strike.' If the workers try to operate the factory themselves, they inevitably have to follow the rules of capitalist markets. The workers might get a better distribution of material rewards, but not equality or democracy. The more "realist" among labor organizers would reimpose production discipline, compellingly citing external market pressures. The "Iron Law of Oligarchy" in complex organizations predicted that the narrow circle of those making managerial decisions would cut themselves of from the larger group and evolve into a new ruling elite. It might take time before ideological vapor entirely escaped from the cauldrons. Nevertheless the moment would come when the erstwhile organizers turned managers would no longer feel compelled to disguise the reality. The factory would then revert to being a normal capitalist enterprise, and the managers would cash in on their positions. If you wish, it is a sociological version of George Orwell's Animal Farm, but Wallerstein's analysis specified in a clear and logical fashion the structural conditions and causal sequences. He also added an important political caveat: socialism in one country or one factory may not last unless the whole capitalist world.system is replaced by a different historical system where capital accumulation is no longer the paramount priority.

this book is so good

(this theory was based on the real behaviour of Soviet leaders in as early as 1953)

—p.113 by Georgi Derluguian 3 years ago

Immanuel Wallerstein had been long (and very controversially) comparing communist states to factories seized by a labor union during a strike.' If the workers try to operate the factory themselves, they inevitably have to follow the rules of capitalist markets. The workers might get a better distribution of material rewards, but not equality or democracy. The more "realist" among labor organizers would reimpose production discipline, compellingly citing external market pressures. The "Iron Law of Oligarchy" in complex organizations predicted that the narrow circle of those making managerial decisions would cut themselves of from the larger group and evolve into a new ruling elite. It might take time before ideological vapor entirely escaped from the cauldrons. Nevertheless the moment would come when the erstwhile organizers turned managers would no longer feel compelled to disguise the reality. The factory would then revert to being a normal capitalist enterprise, and the managers would cash in on their positions. If you wish, it is a sociological version of George Orwell's Animal Farm, but Wallerstein's analysis specified in a clear and logical fashion the structural conditions and causal sequences. He also added an important political caveat: socialism in one country or one factory may not last unless the whole capitalist world.system is replaced by a different historical system where capital accumulation is no longer the paramount priority.

this book is so good

(this theory was based on the real behaviour of Soviet leaders in as early as 1953)

—p.113 by Georgi Derluguian 3 years ago

a hardening of tissue and other anatomical features / becoming rigid and unresponsive; losing the ability to adapt

115

The now sclerotic generation of obedient Soviet bureaucrats formed in the end of the Stalinist purges

—p.115 by Georgi Derluguian
notable
3 years, 1 month ago

The now sclerotic generation of obedient Soviet bureaucrats formed in the end of the Stalinist purges

—p.115 by Georgi Derluguian
notable
3 years, 1 month ago

a French political group active during the French Revolution, which launched a coup d'état against the leaders of the Jacobin Club in 1794

119

the necessary phase of "auto-Thermidorean restoration" in revolutionary sequence

—p.119 by Georgi Derluguian
unknown
3 years, 1 month ago

the necessary phase of "auto-Thermidorean restoration" in revolutionary sequence

—p.119 by Georgi Derluguian
unknown
3 years, 1 month ago

causing vertigo, especially by being extremely high or steep

121

their vertiginous self-recasting into capitalists and nationalists

—p.121 by Georgi Derluguian
uncertain
3 years, 1 month ago

their vertiginous self-recasting into capitalists and nationalists

—p.121 by Georgi Derluguian
uncertain
3 years, 1 month ago
124

[...] But we should recognize that the Soviet Union was not equivalent to socialism and thereby somehow directly analogous to capitalism. It was something more particular and of a different order.

This is so whether we treat capitalism as a set of practices that can be undertaken by capitalists anywhere, or as an economic system that knits together enterprises, markets, investments, and labor throughout the world. Capitalism is a historical formation, grounded, as Michael Mann would say, in a set of power networks. It has existed for the last 400 years primarily in the form of the modern world-system that Immanuel Wallerstein has analyzed. This is a hierarchical and unequally integrated organization in which the primary units are nation-states and economic actors are crucially dependent on relations with and conditions provided by political power.

To be sure, the idea of a nation-state is in a sense aspirational; the suturing of sociocultural identity to governmental institutions is never perfect; economic integration can itself advance national integration and certainly economic actors also influence government. Yet even if partially a fiction, the nation-state is a crucial formal unit for participation in global affairs, reproduced in political isomorphism. Most international organizations are literally that—structured by nationally organized participation. And states organized in this way provide crucial underpinnings to capitalism. They provide the legal and monetary bases for both firms and markets. They manage, or provide settings for the management of interdependence among different firms, industries, and sectors. By organizing structures of cultural and social belonging, however imperfectly, and sometimes by regulating markets, they organize workforces, consumer markets, and trust. The term "nation-state* may be only shorthand for "efforts to organize politics and sociocultural belonging in terms of nation-states", but the era of capitalism and the era of nation-states have been one and the same. There is no "rea" capitalism, no matter how global, that isn't conditioned by this political-economic and sociocultural organization. The import of this is that existing capitalist prosperity and sustainability depend on nation-states and institutional affordances they have provided. These must be renewed or replaced. Yet for forty years the OECD countries have turned away from this task. Instead they have hollowed out the "welfare state" institutions of the past, reducing costs and pursuing immediate competitiveneas but neglecting the long-term well-being and security of their population and the collective investment that enables future economic participation.

just really well written

—p.124 by Craig J. Calhoun 3 years ago

[...] But we should recognize that the Soviet Union was not equivalent to socialism and thereby somehow directly analogous to capitalism. It was something more particular and of a different order.

This is so whether we treat capitalism as a set of practices that can be undertaken by capitalists anywhere, or as an economic system that knits together enterprises, markets, investments, and labor throughout the world. Capitalism is a historical formation, grounded, as Michael Mann would say, in a set of power networks. It has existed for the last 400 years primarily in the form of the modern world-system that Immanuel Wallerstein has analyzed. This is a hierarchical and unequally integrated organization in which the primary units are nation-states and economic actors are crucially dependent on relations with and conditions provided by political power.

To be sure, the idea of a nation-state is in a sense aspirational; the suturing of sociocultural identity to governmental institutions is never perfect; economic integration can itself advance national integration and certainly economic actors also influence government. Yet even if partially a fiction, the nation-state is a crucial formal unit for participation in global affairs, reproduced in political isomorphism. Most international organizations are literally that—structured by nationally organized participation. And states organized in this way provide crucial underpinnings to capitalism. They provide the legal and monetary bases for both firms and markets. They manage, or provide settings for the management of interdependence among different firms, industries, and sectors. By organizing structures of cultural and social belonging, however imperfectly, and sometimes by regulating markets, they organize workforces, consumer markets, and trust. The term "nation-state* may be only shorthand for "efforts to organize politics and sociocultural belonging in terms of nation-states", but the era of capitalism and the era of nation-states have been one and the same. There is no "rea" capitalism, no matter how global, that isn't conditioned by this political-economic and sociocultural organization. The import of this is that existing capitalist prosperity and sustainability depend on nation-states and institutional affordances they have provided. These must be renewed or replaced. Yet for forty years the OECD countries have turned away from this task. Instead they have hollowed out the "welfare state" institutions of the past, reducing costs and pursuing immediate competitiveneas but neglecting the long-term well-being and security of their population and the collective investment that enables future economic participation.

just really well written

—p.124 by Craig J. Calhoun 3 years ago

deliberately preventing the facts or full details of something from becoming known

126

some particularly "obscurantist" or unpatriotic owners

—p.126 by Georgi Derluguian
notable
3 years, 1 month ago

some particularly "obscurantist" or unpatriotic owners

—p.126 by Georgi Derluguian
notable
3 years, 1 month ago

person who acts as an agent for foreign organizations engaged in investment, trade, or economic or political exploitation; originally applied only to East Asia but now used in a Marxist sense to refer to other regions; from the Portuguese word for buyer

126

the landlords and large comprador traders

—p.126 by Georgi Derluguian
unknown
3 years, 1 month ago

the landlords and large comprador traders

—p.126 by Georgi Derluguian
unknown
3 years, 1 month ago

of the founding ideology of the Republic of Turkey, implemented by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and defined by sweeping political, social, cultural and religious reforms designed to separate the new Turkish state from its Ottoman predecessor and embrace a Westernized way of living

126

from the early example of Kemalist Turkey after 1918

—p.126 by Georgi Derluguian
unknown
3 years, 1 month ago

from the early example of Kemalist Turkey after 1918

—p.126 by Georgi Derluguian
unknown
3 years, 1 month ago