Communist mode of production
The Communist mode of production refers to a future state of human society in which no one is born into a class and the means of production are owned by all members of society in common.
Before and after the collapse of Soviet Communism, Trotskyists and other left communists held that the officially socialist states were "deformed" or "degenerated". The distinction is between a state where the workers at one point thru revolutionary action were in control of the state apparatus and those where that never happened.
Deformed Workers State
In Trotskyist political theory, deformed workers' states are states where the bourgeoisie has been overthrown through social revolution, the industrial means of production have been largely nationalized bringing benefits to the working class, but where the working class has never held political power (as it did in Russia shortly after the Russian Revolution). These workers' states are deformed because their political and economic structures have been imposed from the top (or from outside), and because revolutionary working class organizations are crushed. Like a degenerated workers' state, a deformed workers' state cannot be said to be a state that is transitioning to socialism.
The concept of deformed workers' states was developed by the theorists of the Fourth International after World War II, when the Soviet Union had militarily defeated Nazi Germany and created satellite states in Eastern Europe. Taking Leon Trotsky's concept of the Soviet Union as a degenerated workers state, the 1951 Third World Congress of the International described the new regimes as deformed workers' states. Rather than advocating a social revolution, as in the capitalist countries, the Fourth International advocated political revolution to oust the Stalinist bureaucracy in the Soviet Union (which was degenerated) however its attitude to Eastern Europe was different, as in Yugoslavia where it sent greetings to the Yugoslav Communist Party and requested attendance at their conference as it thought they could become revolutionary. This approach has been defended by the Trotskyist currents that trace their political continuity through the World Congresses between 1951 and 1965, such as the reunified Fourth International and CWI. The League for the Fifth International argues that the Eastern European states were degenerate workers states, in that they were "degenerate from birth" being qualitative degenerated rather than having quantitative deformations. Therefore a political revolution would be needed, which goes against the Fourth International who sought to reform the Yugoslav Communist Party among others.
Those Trotskyist currents that split from the Fourth International before 1948 over differences with Trotsky on the Soviet Union tend to disagree with this interpretation and have adopted theories describing the post-war Stalinist states as being state capitalist or bureaucratic collectivist.
Most Trotskyists cite examples of deformed workers' states today as including Cuba, the People's Republic of China, North Korea and Vietnam. The Committee for a Workers International has also included states such as Syria or Burma at times when they have had a nationalised economy.
Some Trotskyist groups such as Socialist Action, while having some disagreements with the Cuban leadership, consider Cuba a healthy workers' state. Others, such as the Freedom Socialist Party, say that the People's Republic of China has gone too far on the road of capitalist restoration to be considered a deformed workers' state.
Degenerated Workers State
In Trotskyist political theory the term degenerated workers' state has been used since the 1930s to describe the state of the Soviet Union after Stalin's consolidation of power in or about 1924. The term was developed by Leon Trotsky in The Revolution Betrayed and in other works , but has its roots in Lenin's formula that the USSR was a workers' state with bureaucratic deformations.
The Trotskyist definition
The Soviet state of the period between the 1917 October Revolution and Joseph Stalin's consolidation of power, was held to be a genuine workers' state, as the bourgeoisie had been politically overthrown by the working class and the economic basis of that state laid in collective ownership of the means of production. Contrary to the predictions of many socialists such as Lenin himself, the revolution failed to spread to Germany and other industrial Western European countries, and consequently the Soviet state began to degenerate. This was worsened by the material and political degeneration of the Russian working class by the Civil War of 1917–1923. After the death of Lenin in 1924, the ruling stratum of the Soviet Union, consolidated around Joseph Stalin, was held to be a bureaucratic caste, and not a new ruling class, because its political control did not also extend to economic ownership. The theory that the Soviet Union was a degenerated workers' state is closely connected to Trotsky's call for a political revolution in the USSR, as well as Trotsky's call for defense of the USSR against capitalist restoration.
The term "degenerated workers' state" is commonly used to refer only to the Soviet Union. The term deformed workers' state was coined by Trotskyists of the Fourth International to describe those states, like the Soviet satellite states of Eastern Europe, which are or were based upon collectivised means of production, but in which the working class never held direct political power.
Besides the supporters of the Soviet Union holding the belief that the state was a healthy workers' state, the theory has been criticised from within the Trotskyist movement, and by other socialists critical of the Soviet Union. Among the disputed issues are the relationships between a workers' state (of any type), and a planned economy. Some tendencies tend to equate the two concepts, while others draw sharp distinctions between them.
- State capitalism
- Bureaucratic collectivism
- New class
- State Capitalism
- State socialism
- Leon Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed, 1936
- See, for example, Leon Trotsky, "The USSR and Problems of the Transitional Epoch", extract from The Transitional Program (1938), or "The ABC of Materialist Dialectics", extract From "A Petty-Bourgeois Opposition in the Socialist Workers Party" (1939), in Leon Trotsky, In Defense of Marxism, 1942)
- Cf. among other places: "Our Party Programme ... shows that ours is a workers’ state with a bureaucratic twist to it." V. I. Lenin, "The Trade Unions, the Present Situation and Trotsky's Mistakes", speech on December 30, 1920, in V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Volume 32.
- Third World Congress of the Fourth International, Class Nature of Eastern Europe
- Pierre Frank, Evolution of Eastern Europe, Report to the Third World Congress