Critical Sociology. July 2008, 34(4)

Critical Sociology stakes a claim on something big: part one of a two part Carchedi piece. It will offer 'nothing less' than a whole new conception of ('capitalist') society. The rest of the issue focuses on China and the former USSR, in terms of an analysis of state capitalism.

Carchedi's piece places a premium on consistency with Marx. Equations abound. We dig into actual/possible distinctions. The big gun is potential reality (read: immanent possibilities). This is underwritten by a determinant-determined distinction (a way of wrestling with modal issues in causation). Reproduction and change are approached. (To me this all feels muddied by those odd (a-)x(a-)=(a²) obsessions...) The final play is the introduction of a concrete/abstract individuals distinction (implicit in Marx, naturally). The outcome so far: a sociology of non-equilibrium. I'm sure some people will be all over this.

Pollard introduces the state capitalism theme: what happens when a state elite owns and controls everything? The emphasis is on transitions. The coming points are old, but provide edible intros to the relevant state histories.

Gabriel & co. seek to define communism, socialism and capitalism via surplus labour (only in communism do the workers control the surplus). The USSR and PRC are presented as state capitalist and state feudalist organisations (also fleeting, or perverted, socialisms).

Hasan traces the history of modern Chinese economic organisation from the revolution to the current hybridised state-capitalist arrangement. Those left behind (rural people) or degraded (workers) by the recent systemic changes are highlighted. The implications of these changes for the state, and the CCP, are explored (expect devolution and worker grumbling).

Screwing the working class ties together modern Russian history for Haynes , with the Stalinist Russian state 'infused by the dynamic of capitalism'. (I worry that we're just using capitalist as a short-hand for crap working conditions.)

Things close up with a review essay by Katzenstein. China and India provide the examples.