Exit: Toward Post-Stalinism

Exit: Toward Post-Stalinism

Exit: Toward Post-Stalinism

Exit: Toward Post-Stalinism


How does a society emerge from Stalinism? This is the question of the day in Eastern Europe. In this final volume of his trilogy on Stalinism, Campeanu examines the main pillars of the Stalinist system - the vacuum of ownership and the regulation of all social and economic activity by a central power endowed with infallibility. Only if both of these conditions are eliminated, Campeanu argues, can Stalinism finally be overcome. Attempts only to reform, to modify, to ameliorate, to eliminate "excesses" will ensure that society stays in a perpetual dead-end. How does perestroika measure up against this standard? What are the stakes in Moscow, in Beijing? It is to be able to answer questions such as these that Campeanu undertook this work.


Over the course of the past ten years I have published five books. Four of them were published in the United States by M. E. Sharpe: The Syncretic Society (1980), The Origins of Stalinism (1986), The Genesis of the Stalinist Social Order (1988), and the present volume. A fifth, Oamenii si Filmul (People and the Movies), written in collaboration with Stefana Steriade, appeared in Bucharest in 1985; the title concealed the book's underlying theme of alienation in Stalinist societies.

Three of the volumes form a trilogy, each part of which is keyed to a central concept: Origins--to the concept of an "anticipatory" revolution; Genesis--to that of generalized expropriation; and Exit--40 the concept of the "global regulator." The articulation of these three concepts provides a general blueprint of the Stalinist social organization as I have undertaken to represent it.

Accordingly, anticipatory revolution overthrew capitalism long before it had played out its historical role. The immediate and inevitable result of anticipatory revolution was a premature anticapimlism. The latter transformed the class structure, which assumed a postcapitalist character, but did not transform the preponderantly precapitalist character of the productive forces. By virtue of this incompatibility between its class structure and its forces of production, premature anticapitalism evolved into a destructured society on the verge of losing its character of a social system as well as its capacity for self-regulation, which was subject to a growing deregulation.

To rescue postrevolutionary society from this predicament, the Stalinist revolution from above proceeded to the generalized expropriation of society with the aid of mass repression. Not only did it abolish the remaining capitalist property that had experienced a resurgence under NEP, it abolished as well petty agrarian property, ratified by the famous Land Decree. It rendered the ownership of the means of production by the producers and by the state utterly otiose, despite the fact that legally they were its owners. The abolition of capitalist property ended with the abolition of the institution of property per se. The result was an anti- capitalism that was both premature and ultraradical at one and the same time, and based on a property vacuum in which possession of and disposal over the . . .

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