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Sovětský svaz – nová třídní společnost

Josef Guttmann, introduced, edited, and translated by Pavel Siostrzonek

Contradictions: A Journal for Critical Thought V, no. 1 (2021): 89–127

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Keywords: Josef Guttmann, Soviet-type society, Marxist political theory, political economy

The following text introduces Josef Guttmann’s critical analyses of Soviet society as a new class society that substantially differs from both socialism and capitalism. Between 1937 and 1944, Guttmann published three essays whose novelty has been largely overlooked in existing scholarship, although the essays represent the very first Czechoslovak analyses of their kind. The overall political, intellectual, and biographical context of Guttmann’s theoretical contributions is sketched out in an introductory text by Pavel Siostrzonek, and Guttmann’s subsequent articles on the topic are discussed as well.

Following this introduction, the Siostrzonek provides an annotated Czech translation of Guttmann’s most elaborated essay, which was published in Dwight Macdonald’s radical journal politics under the title “The Soviet Union: A New Class Society.” Focusing on the Soviet economy, Guttmann tried to demonstrate how much Soviet society was plagued by oppression, inequality, unfreedom, and acute economic contradictions. Far from embodying the Marxist idea of socialist society as a free association of direct producers, Soviet society was based on a historically new mode of production in which the bureaucracy established itself as a new ruling class.

doi: 10.46957/con.2021.1.5

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