A Sociology of the Soviet Union by Gary Littlejohn (auth.)

By Gary Littlejohn (auth.)

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By Gary Littlejohn (auth.)

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Sample text

While admitting there was a gap in the commune between its apparent egalitarianism and its actual stratification, Atkinson then argues as if by the harvest of 1918 the bulk of peasants had already been transformed into middle peasants. Even assuming that this was true in the above areas which formed the Bolshevik heartland during the civil war, it could hardly be said that this was necessarily the case in, say, the Ukraine, in which peasant capitalist relations had been more developed since the 1890s.

In my view this claim has been cogently criticised as reductionist, 20 but it is still possible to say that economic agents may be potentially engaged in struggle along class lines (in the enterprise and elsewhere over other conditions of production) without reducing politics to class action. The problem of reductionism is that it attempts to reduce one level (or domain or instance) which is supposed to have effects in its own right to another level. The logical problem is how to reconcile the claim that a level has effects of its own with the claim that it is determined from outside, from another level with which it is somehow structurally connected but not merged.

That very multiplicity or complexity of relations may well provide the conditions in which agents who would otherwise be less powerful could gain sufficient access to the means of production to prevent the predominant agents from using their social location largely for their own benefit. Thus any concept of'social ownership' or 'communal possession' cannot refer to a series of undifferentiated agents, each of which has access to the means of production on the same terms, but rather to a set of conditions where the form of access of one set of agents does not seriously preclude the access of other agents.

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