Book Review from the October 1980 issue of the Socialist Standard
Economics, Politics and the Age of Inflation, by Paul Mattick, Merlin Press. £2.40
It is a great pity that Mattick's style of writing is so long-winded and convoluted since he has a thorough knowledge of Marxist economics and is one of the few, along with us, to define socialism as a classless, moneyless, wageless, stateless society.
This book is a collection of six articles written between 1973 and 1978. The first three repeat the arguments of his book Marx and Keynes. Since this has already been reviewed by us (Western Socialist, No. 2 1972) there is no need to go over this ground again here, except to criticise Mattick's vague use of the word inflation. Sometimes he uses it to mean over-issuing money, sometimes to mean rising prices and sometimes even to mean the reasons which, in his opinion, have led governments to pursue inflationary money and price policies.
This, combined with his style, makes the first three articles difficult going. The next two on state capitalism are excellent, bringing out well the differences between state capitalism and socialism:
Under state-monopoly capitalism, as under capitalism in any other form, the task of the proletariat remains one and the same, namely, the abolition of capitalist relations through the elimination of wage labour in a classless society (pp. 89-90)
But according to socialist theory, the state is an instrument of class rule, and therefore in a classless socialist society it should become superfluous. Those central authorities still necessary would perform only technical and organisation, not state, functions and would remain dependent on the decisions of the producers (p. 98).
Mattick also denies that the Russian revolution was a socialist revolution and proclaims that "to abolish capitalism, the first task is to make Bolshevism a thing of the past once and for all" (p. 113). The final article is an interesting analysis of the depression in America that followed the 1929 Stock Exchange Crash.