State capitalism

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State capitalism is usually described as an economic system in which commercial (i.e. for-profit) economic activity is undertaken by the state, where the means of production are organized and managed as state-owned business enterprises (including the processes of capital accumulation, wage labor, and centralized management), or where there is otherwise a dominance of publicly listed corporations of which the state has controlling shares.


  • Let me examine the alleged "distinction from capitalism" characteristic of the Soviet Union and see whether it isn't a distinction from a certain stage of capitalism rather than from capitalism as a whole. The determining factor in analyzing the class nature of a society is not whether the means of production are the private property of the capitalist class or are state-owned, but whether the means of production ... are monopolized and alienated from the direct producers. The Soviet Government occupies in relation to the whole economic system the position which a capitalist occupies in relation to a single enterprise. ... "Bureaucratic state socialism" is an irrational expression behind which there exists the real economic relation of state-capitalist-exploiter to the propertyless exploited.
    • Raya Dunayevskaya, "The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is a Capitalist Society" (1941), in Russia: From Proletarian Revolution to State-Capitalist Counter-Revolution, p. 210
  • I think it is only because capitalism has proved so enormously more efficient than alternative methods that is has survived at all. ... I'm not sure capitalism is the right word. There is a sense in which every society is capitalist. The Soviet Union was capitalist, but it was state capitalism. Latin American societies in the past have been capitalist, but it has been oligarchic capitalism. So what we really need to talk about is not capitalism but free market or competitive capitalism which is the system that we would like to have adopted, not just capitalism.
    • Milton Friedman, Interview with Parker in Randall E. Parker(ed.), Reflections on the Great Depression (2002)
  • Thus by 1925, both Leninism and Fascism, variants of Marxism, had created political and economic systems that shared singular properties… Both sought order and disciple of entire populations in the service of an exclusivistic party and an ideology that found its origins in classical Marxism… Both created a kind of ‘state capitalism,’ informed by a unitary party, and responsible to a ‘charismatics’ leader.”
    • A. James Gregor, Marxism, Fascism & Totalitarianism: Chapters in the Intellectual History of Radicalism, Stanford University Press (2009) pp. 293.
  • If we are to keep the term ‘capitalism’ at all, then, we must distinguish between ‘free-market capitalism’ on the one hand, and ‘state capitalism’ on the other. The two are as different as day and night in their nature and consequences. Free-market capitalism is a network of free and voluntary exchanges in which producers work, produce, and exchange their products for the products of others through prices voluntarily arrived at. State capitalism consists of one or more groups making use of the coercive apparatus of the government — the State — to accumulate capital for themselves by expropriating the production of others by force and violence.
    • Murray Rothbard, as quoted in Outside Looking In: Critiques of American Policies and Institutions, Left and Right, edited by D.B. James, New York: Harper and Row (1972) pp. 60-74.
  • Under a system of ‘state–controlled capitalism,’ or mixed economy, large companies can avoid normal evolutionary processes by hooking up with state power in order to direct, regulate, and micromanage the economy. And if they skirt bankruptcy, they can be declared “too big to fail,” showered with billions in taxpayer bailouts, and quickly taught that bad behavior is richly rewarded.
    • L.K. Samuels, In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action, Cobden Press (2013) p. 370.
  • State capitalism would be a step forward as compared with the present state of affairs in our Soviet Republic. If in approximately six months’ time state capitalism became established in our Republic, this would be a great success and a sure guarantee that within a year socialism will have gained a permanently firm hold.
    • Vladimir Lenin , “The Tax in Kind,” written April 21, 1921, Lenin’s Collected Works , 1st English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 32, pp. 329-365.[[1]]
  • Three-fourths of the Italian economy, industrial and agricultural, is in the hands of the state. And if I dare to introduce to Italy state capitalism or state socialism, which is the reverse side of the medal, I will have the necessary subjective and objective conditions to do it.
    • Benito Mussolini, The Oxford Handbook of the Italian Economy Since Unification, by Gianni Toniolo, editor, Oxford University Press (2013) p. 59. Mussolini’s speech to the Chamber of Deputies on May 26, 1934.

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