The birth of a new revolutionary movement in Russia in the present pre-revolutionary conditions that occur in this country has found considerable hurdles, in many cases connected to its historic past, that had predetermined the first steps accomplished towards the formation of a fighting trend in the late 80's, and 90's. As pointed out in recent years, the ideological and organisational tasks that the Russian communists have to face go unavoidably through an overall rethinking, say in a more declarative way, to get rid of the 'inheritance' of 40 years of revisionism and opportunism that characterised the post-Stalinist period in the Soviet Union. This 'pressure' from the past is an objective element in the present correlation of class forces of present day Russia, which requires study and exposure by the present communist movement in terms of the method of the analysis of the present class contradictions and their manifestation. Not wishing to present a paper on the different forms through which this revisionist past manifests itself, we would like to analyse certain serious remnants of the right revisionist system in the conception of some comrades on the question of the role of commodity-money relations and their dying off in Socialism, a question that impinges in a straight forward way on the writing of a modern programme of the revolutionary party in Russia and other former Soviet Republics.
Let us note that this separate concrete question, let us say the theory of Market Socialism, although analysed in a certain isolation, as determined by the need of the present article, should be kept in mind as a constituent part of a more complex and to some extent, self-consistent system of conceptions, that of modern revisionism. As far as a Marxist is concerned, conceptions like Market Socialism, although they may appear in many different forms in recent years tend to appear concealed under the cover of an eclectic framework that pretends to defend Stalinism, are a constituent part of a system into which it enters fulfilling a concrete role. Needless to say the theory of Market Socialism cannot be fully understood taken isolated as an independent whole of concepts, as a complete theory that appears and may be presented regardless of the historic conditions. Its historical significance is determined by a concrete correlation of class forces. It can be considered as a unity of conceptions, and therefore acquires a character of an independent whole just in the framework of the analysis of the particular question of the role of commodity-money relations in Socialism being approached as a separate question. In this sense and only in this sense, in the analysis of a particular conception, let us say that of Market Socialism, can one temporarily isolate it from the social forces that lie behind it and develop the analysis of concepts and their development in a certain isolation. On the other hand, this initial and unavoidable step in the scientific analysis, should not prevent the Marxist from bringing the whole analysis of the constituent conception back to its place in the framework of a more complete conception of the world, the ideological framework of a concrete class, of certain class tendencies that exist within the framework of a historical epoch.
Something that should be clarified prior to approaching the present analysis, many honest communists still preserve serious remnants of conceptions constituent of the sea of modern revisionism. Due to whatever subjective reasons these comrades still partially preserve serious elements originating from modern revisionism mixed with elements of the positive development of the recent years, the catching up the Russian communist movement with the revolutionary traditions of Lenin-Stalin. Revisionism has not become obsolete, on the contrary, it adopts a different form. For the purpose of the clarification of this point it is essential to draw some attention to the structure of the forms that preserve these revisionist theses. Comrade Mironyuk's article displays, something widespread among many theorists of the Russian communist movement, some Stalinist considerations have been introduced in the capacity of passive forms, more correctly covers, while old revisionist theses are be preserved under them. In this sense the old revisionist theses, in particular those of Market Socialism, use some new forms so that a conscious or unconscious revisionist trend is perpetuated in the modern communist movement: something which is widespread, the implementation of the Stalinist principle of the progressive lowering of prices, hut taken in a different framework, not in the Stalinist framework of the concrete dying off of commodities, and the replacement of commodity-money relations by direct products exchange, but on the contrary within the field of the overall expansion of the sphere of commodity production (the Stalinist restriction on the sphere of commodity production, in particular in the means of production are considered in this system to be commodities in essence, and are simply ignored) to all the Socialist economy. The Stalinist system is in essence, the specification of classical considerations before Stalin that outlined the process of transformation from Socialism to Communism in the conditions of the construction of Socialism and Communism in the Soviet Union, and, hence, should be regarded by itself as a development in Marxism-Leninism. This System is simply ignored by many ideologues who claim to defend Stalin, and in fact they refute him in the very root of the question. Some elements are taken that in a different system mean something absolutely different. In essence Stalinism loses its real essence and becomes a passive form for the perpetuation of modern revisionism. Stalin is looked upon as a great leader, but as a bad theorist, is looked upon through the mirror of Brezhnevism. This is in essence the ideological structure of Andreevism in Russia, that has dared to stress that Stalin's main merit consists in the substantiation of Market Socialism:
'...The 14th Congress of the Communist Party of China, CPC (1992) has formulated the theory of the construction of socialism with Chinese specificity, that is based on the consideration that between socialist economy and market relations there do not exist differences of principle, that the coordination of the planned economy and market relations makes it possible to do away with the possible constraints on the development of the forces of production and gives an impulse to economic development. The Congress has called for the formation of the system of Socialist market relations in China.
'Some theoreticians, making a critique of the Chinese experience, deny any possibility of the existence of commodity production (exchange of goods through buying-selling) in socialism based on the consideration that this definitely will bring the restoration of capitalism. It is convenient to note that J.V. Stalin in his work 'Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR' regarded it necessary to expose these theorists with solid argumentation. In the work of J.V. Stalin it is clearly said that commodity production and commodity exchange, being under the control of the socialist state and in the conditions of the liquidation of the system of exploitation, not only will not result in capitalism but should be regarded as an 'indispensable and very useful element' in the system of the socialist economy. By building socialism with Chinese specificity, the Chinese communists intensively used the experience of the development of the economy of the USSR (both the negative and the positive), the different conceptions of commodity production in socialism, in different steps of its development, and, of course, also the Leninist NEP. '(From the Report delivered by the Informational Analytical Secretariat of the CC of the All-Union Communist Party, AUCP(B). Published in 'Za Bolshevism', 4th April, 1996).
The dialectics of the dying off of C-M relations is concretised by Stalin in the conditions of the construction of the socialist and communist societies in the Soviet Union. The modern understanding of the socialist economy goes without fail through the Stalinist specification of the general outlines fixed by the classics before him. In this connection, Lenin drew the starting point for the analysis of the categories that remain in Socialism from Capitalism, and which in the process of the construction of Communist Society, are to die off, since these categories require certain preconditions that correspond to former and obsolete systems of relations of production; in Socialism it is the forms that mainly remain from those categories. In the concrete example of the economic category commodity, Stalin concretised this statement, a consideration indispensable for a modern conception of the economic transition to communism. This point is expressed by Stalin in 'Economic Problems.'
'The fact of the matter is that in our socialist conditions economic development proceeds not by way of upheavals, but by way of gradual changes, the old not simply being abolished out of hand, but changing its nature in adaptation to the new, and retaining only its form , while the new does not only destroy the old, but infiltrates into it, changes its nature and its functions, without smashing its form, but utilising it for the development of the new. This, in our economic circulation, is true not only of commodities, but also of money, as well as of banks, which, while they lose their old functions and acquire new ones, preserve their old form, which is utilised by the socialist system.' (J.V. Stalin, Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1952, p. 59.)
Lenin had outlined the character of the development of the commodity in Socialism with his famous statement:
'the manufactured goods made by socialist factories and exchanged for the foodstuffs produced by the peasants are not commodities in the politico-economic sense of the word; at any rate, they are not only commodities, they are no longer commodities, they are ceasing to be commodities' (V.I. Lenin, Instructions of the Council of Labour and Defence to Local Soviet Bodies, Collected Works Vol. 32, Moscow, 1965, p. 384).
In this respect it is essential to note that in the Leninist formula it comes out implicitly that the existence of commodity production in Socialism is due to the existence of two forms of property. Lenin outlines the character of the development of this commodity exchanged with the Kolkhoz that this commodity ceases to be a commodity, which is nothing but an expression that the collective property in the process of construction of socialism and communism has to merge with the state, socialised property, that the passage to communism requires this merger as a precondition. It cannot be otherwise since the statement above points out the evolution of the product that has to adopt the form of a commodity since it changes hands, changes owners. On the other hand, one should not ignore the fact that both Lenin and Stalin do not treat the socialist product that circulates within the socialist sector as a commodity. This point, a central one in the political economy of Socialism, is flagrantly ignored by many theorists and ideologists of many parties that call themselves communist in Russia, whose models are based upon the assumption that the Socialist product constitutes commodity production. In this respect is essential to establish a severe distinction in the Stalinist analysis of the sphere of the commodity production in Socialism. On the one hand, the commodity that is exchanged between the Kolkhoz and the State retains the form of a commodity, whereas its essence changes and from this point of view it definitely ceases to be such. This commodity retains for itself the dialectical category of the form of the commodity by virtue of the fact that the product exchanged that adopts this form, changes owner. It is well known that the category of form in dialectics is not a passive entity, a simple dress that the category of content adopts and dismisses at will. The form itself holds a structure and embodies a concrete type of relations, in particular the relation of buying-selling between different subjects of the economy. It is therefore an objective requirement that, since this form is not a passive one and corresponds to a concrete type of economic relations (dialectically speaking, from one side, the State and Kolkhoz face each other as independent producers), this form should enter into contradiction with the new content determined by the historical process of merging, the elevation of the kolkhoz property to social property. Therefore, the commodity has to die off. Before getting to the nature of the change of the content of the commodity it would be convenient to establish that in the Stalinist system the product of the State sector and its interconnection with the commodity production was treated in a way that many, including Andreevism in Russia, simply ignore. Apart from the fact that many avoid facing Stalinist 'restriction', ignore it just as a matter of fact, it would be convenient to note that, this Stalinist 'restriction' in the sphere of commodity production, i.e. the means of production get excluded, is not a mere mechanical wall, but a requirement of the State sector (which in the Stalinist system is restricted, and by no means the law of demand and supply would play here a substantial role, as Mironyuk claims). Stalin stresses:
'Why... do we speak of the value of means of production, their cost of production, their price, etc.?
'For two reasons.
'Firstly, this is needed for purposes of calculation and settlement, for determining whether enterprises are paying or running at a loss, for checking and controlling the enterprises. But that is only the formal aspect of the matter.
'Secondly, it is needed in order... to conduct sales of means of production to foreign countries. Here... our means of production really are commodities, and really are sold.
'...in the sphere of domestic economic circulation, means of production lose the properties of commodities, cease to be commodities and pass out of the sphere of operation of the law of value, retaining only the outward integument of commodities (vnieshnaya obolochka tovara) (calculation, etc.).' (ibid. 58-59).
In the treatment of the means of productions in Socialism it is substantial to point out something that vulgar ideologists of Market Socialism do not want to understand, that the dialectical category of 'vnieshnaya obolochka' substantially differs from the category of form which the product exchanged between the State and the Kolkhoz is treated in form as a commodity, and up to a certain extent, its content corresponds to it (and in dialectics it cannot be otherwise) and therefore the law of value up to a certain limit is bound to operate, however the product that circulates in the State sector (that is not bought and sold) is not treated in essence as a commodity, but for certain reasons it is necessary in Socialism to accomplish calculations not only in natural but also value terms. Here Stalin, a consecrated master of dialectics, established that it should be a passive element, that is a left-over of what that product used to be.
The most common revisionist critique against Stalin in this respect could be summarised as follows:
Stalin allegedly would artificially (what revisionists would call voluntarism in economy) separate form and content in the category commodity, i.e. it is argued that a commodity should be treated as such in both form and content. Revisionism does not accept the Stalinist restriction on the means of production, arguing that in the concrete stage of development of the forces of production there is no reason why commodities should not be treated as such, not formally but in essence. In essence the Lenin-Stalin conception of the dying-off of commodity-money relations, the basic Leninist general formula for the utilisation of the old forms to develop new content, are dismissed. Further, the revisionists argue that the socialist product in general adopts the form of commodity, an economic category that embodies a system of economic ties of a community of private independent producers. An absolute absurdity, already brilliantly exposed by Engels in Anti-Dühring. This vulgar implementation of dialectics in political economy is still extant and is preserved under the cover of false Stalinism in Andreevism.
In dialectics form and content constitute a unity, and in this unity form and content interact with each other, are able to influence each other. Between form and content there is a correspondence. Not every form can correspond to a concrete content; in other words, form is not indifferent to its content, and this correspondence is determined historically. As content is the most dynamic element in this unity, it determines the character and direction of the development of the whole. On the other hand, form can influence reversibly on its content, it may accelerate or brake a process of development of the whole. A form is not a passive entity, is not a dress that the content wears and subsequently gets rid of at will. This would in essence be a mechanical approach to the dialectics of form and content. Revisionism has always tried to substantiate, based on the exaggeration of the determining role of the content, that this latter can under certain circumstances adopt forms that correspond, historically speaking, to more backward stages of development. For instance, the superstructure of a society faces its economic basis as a form faces its content. There exists a relation of correspondence, a certain content cannot adopt any random form, and on the other hand a form can correspond to a certain content; for example a superstructure like the dictatorship of the proletariat cannot be adopted by a state based on the capitalist mode of production and in the opposite direction a state based on the socialist mode of production cannot adopt a superstructure with functions different from the dictatorship of the proletariat, such as the state of the whole people. Otherwise one would metaphysically, mechanically, separate form and content, conceive them as two parts of a whole mechanically adhered to each other. Further, the revisionist system of Market Socialism is based on the mechanical thesis that old forms of economic ties, like commodity-money relations, can correspond in the new conditions of historical development to the new character of the economic ties between elements of the Socialist society; it comes to the conclusion that the Socialist economy is a commodity economy. In other words modern revisionism regards the Socialist product as a commodity both in form and content (as a form of economic tie), something in flagrant contradiction with the classical model. On the one hand, the Soviet theory of Socialist Market even in the times of Perestroika did not regard labour power as commodity while, on the other hand, both in the economic practice and literature the Soviet product was considered a commodity whose value would be made up of necessary and surplus portions. Of course the ideologists of modern revisionism were always careful enough not to utilise the term surplus value in the economic literature, but this is just a formality for a Marxist. Finally the revisionist state would run out of the appropriation of this surplus 'product'. And this form of economic functioning that Stalin had rejected as being a historical product of the capitalist mode of production, modern revisionism would adopt as a form of development for the socialist economy. A sober analysis of this contradiction, namely, the adoption of economic forms that historically correspond to the capitalist mode of production, is bound to reflect a qualitative change in the mode of production. Otherwise one would be applying the same metaphysical approach on this question and still consider in essence socialist a mode of production an economic whole that in practice is run within the framework of a concrete type of economic relations. This is something that Andreevism in Russia still claims to be right.
Further, it is important to draw some attention, to the concept of 'cover', what Stalin calls, 'vnieshnaya obolochka'. For instance, the political superstructure is a form, an entity with its own structure, capable of influencing the historical development, the content to which it historically corresponds. However, something like a flag or a State symbol cannot be considered as a form in that sense, they lack the attributes that the dialectical entity of a form has and therefore cannot be considered as such, is not subject to the same dialectical laws. As a consequence, a dialectical category as a symbol by virtue of its condition manifests itself as a passive entity that lacks the capacity of influencing the dialectical development of things the way the dialectical category of form does. It has been historically proved that certain symbols, like the red banner, the hammer and sickle can be preserved by political tendencies that come to represent class interests opposite to those that originally adopted them. Expressions like 'the construction of capitalism under the red banner' that many communists in Russia apply to Zyuganov are not nonsensical. The economic category of price that in the Stalinist system the socialist product would still retain has a definite relevance. The economic category of price, as it appears in the Marxian analysis, is an expression of the amount of value that the commodity embodies. But the economic category of price, being just an expression of the amount of value of a commodity, does not contain within itself the essence of commodity production since by itself, taken isolatedly, it is just a quantitative expression of the amount of labour. The main feature (i.e. the essence of its content as an economic category) of a commodity as an economic form of a system of independent producers is that it is bought and sold, that it is therefore exchanged between independent subjects of the economy according to a certain proportion which is expressed quantitatively in the economic category of price. The economic category of price as a figure can as well be implemented to express the relation in which the product should be exchanged. In Socialism the price of the product that is exchanged between the State and the Kolkhoz does not necessarily have to be equal to the cost of production ('sebiestoimost'), which is a value based calculation. This is something that is denied by 'Stalinist marketites' like Mironyuk who try to revive Andreevism in Russia.
Price is therefore a category that can also be applied in an economic system that is liquidating commodity production, a powerful instrument for accounting, something imperative in Socialism. In the Stalinist system the economic category of price does not imply the application of the law of value. The economic category of price by virtue of its nature can be implemented without the law of value being applied, since price had arisen historically as an expression and can exist without the essence that it mechanically expresses.
In the Stalinist system as pointed out above, the socialist product that circulates within the state sector does not adopt the form of commodities; it however, retains some elements that were brought in by commodity production, an element of the form of the commodity, the price. The preservation of this element in the economic practice of the socialist state does not force the law of value to be implemented and therefore the character of the regulator of the proportions of labour in the socialist sector is not determined by this law. The fact that the state product, even when it is not meant for exchange with the collective sector, still retains the category of price, is an expression of the fact that the planning organs and the management of the state enterprise, together with the accounting in natural terms, still establish accounting in value terms. This is an unavoidable result of the objective necessity in the existence of commodity production in Socialism, something substantiated theoretically by Stalin. Only a metaphysical approach to the question would result in the conclusion that allegedly the two sectors of the socialist economy (here is meant, socialist in the main, since collective property is allowed) are separated by a Chinese wall, that the law of value would not influence to a certain extent the distribution of prices in the state sector. On the other hand, the dialectical method, more concretely, the necessity of approaching the socialist economy from the perspective of a unity of interrelated opposites, is flagrantly vulgarised by modern revisionism. Right revisionism displays a tendency of considering the existence of elements of contradiction in the unity, as a formal element that enters the whole, merely in a formal way, the element of unity would prevail in the analysis:
'As for the commodity character of the means of production that are produced and circulate within the State sector, is determined, firstly, by the unity of the socialist economy, the interrelation of the State form of property with other forms of property...' (K. Ostrovitianov, Questions of the Construction of Communism in the USSR, Academy of Sciences, Moscow, 1959, p. 421).
This way, modern revisionism, as well as Andreevism in Russia with all its possible 'variants', is not in a position to admit the restrictions in the sphere of commodity production in Socialism. Right revisionism would derive the necessity for the inclusion of the state product in the sphere of commodity production, and in conclusion would transform the socialist economy into a commodity economy, based on which they would find it convenient to consider the reason for the existence of commodity production due to the existence of less developed features inherent in the Socialist society. For instance some Soviet economists of the post-Stalinist period would derive the necessity for the Socialist Market from the Socialist principle of distribution, others from the necessity of accounting (since accounting in Socialism cannot yet be applied directly in time terms), and the smartest of them would try to combine the two.
The product that circulates within the socialist sector, as stated above, adopts an element of the form of the category commodity, namely, the category of price, since this product, which circulates between objects of the socialised property (no buying-selling operation is therefore implied) is hence, not treated as commodities in essence. On the other hand, those products that exchange hands, that participate in the process of circulation bear a different character, adopt therefore the form of commodity, not formally but in essence ('po sushestvu'). These products have to be treated as commodities in essence, of course, to a certain extent, since, as will be pointed out below, these are commodities, by virtue of the dialectical process of dying-off that cease to be commodities. This process of dying off implies substantial changes in the structure of these commodities, and how they are exchanged. The fact is that these are commodities which cease to be commodities, are commodities which mainly hold the form of commodities but whose content, whose essence undergoes a radical change. And this radical change is nothing but one of the expressions of the overall transition to a communist type of relations of production.
'The new content dominates the old form not in order to perpetuate ('uviekoviecht') it, but in order to use it with the purpose of further development which at the end will bring the total disappearance of this old form. In the communist society there will be neither commodities nor commodity circulation with its money economy' (Dialecticheskyi materialism, Gosudarsvennoe Isdatelstvo Politicheskoi Literatury, Moscow, 1953, p. 232).
The product that is exchanged between two independent private producers has to adopt the form of commodity. The fact that these two producers oppose each other as independent producers is expressed in the way their products are exchanged through a buying-selling operation. It is the law of value which is the regulator of the exchange of labour in the system of private independent producers, i.e. the law of value is inherent to commodity production. The essence of a commodity, the main element in its content, the main element by which a commodity differs from a simple product, consists in the character of the economic relation for which is meant: the exchange through buying-selling between two independent producers. The proportion in which certain products of independent producers are exchanged is determined by the principle of equality of value, the law of value. In this sense the essence of commodity production lies in the fact that these producers, by virtue of their condition as independent producers, lose control over their economic relations. The main feature of this system of producers is anarchy in production: 'Nobody knows how much of a product that one produces will appear in the market and in what quantity this product will find a consumer; nobody knows whether a real necessity exists for this product...' (Engels, Anti-Dühring). The law of value determines the proportions of labour circulating among the chaos of independent private producers, unites them into a social production, but on the other hand it expresses the fact that these producers cannot acknowledge their place in social production and therefore: 'the product dominates the producers'.
It becomes clear for a Marxist economist that the preservation in Socialism of economic categories like commodities, price, banks, credit, etc.... do not express capitalist economic relations and therefore they should be approached as forms within which a new content, a new essence of economic relations is being developed:
'If the matter is approached from the formal angle (in Russian 'tochka zrenya' which in literal translation is 'point of view'. My note.), from the angle of the processes taking place on the surface of phenomena, one may arrive at the incorrect conclusion that the categories of capitalism retain their validity under our economy. If, however, the matter is approached from the standpoint of Marxist analysis, which strictly distinguishes between the substance (In the Russian original, 'soderzhanie' which in literal translation is 'content'. Although in dialectics 'substance' and 'content' are close categories, here it would be more appropriate to retain the literal translation. My note.) of an economic process and its form, between the deep processes of development and the surface phenomena, one comes to the only correct conclusion, namely, that it is chiefly the form, the outward appearance, of the old categories of capitalism that have remained in our country, but that their essence has radically changed in adaptation to the requirements of the development of the socialist economy.' (J. V. Stalin, ibid, p. 60).
The law of value, the economic law of commodity production, is the economic regulator of a system of independent private producers and an expression of the anarchy in social production. A Marxist is impelled to establish the analysis of the relevance of this economic law in Socialism. Since it is chiefly the form that remains in the old economic categories, like the commodity, and its content expresses a different type of economic relations, one is impelled to the conclusion that the law of value, taken as an economic regulator, has to be violated on a regular basis. The content of these categories change, since they are applied in a system of new relations of production.
It is on the question of the exchange of labour between the State and the collective sector where the problem of the form and content of the economic categories becomes more acute, since it is here where the product in essence is obliged to adopt the form of commodity. It is here where is best seen the interplay between the old form and the new content.
If looked at from the point of view of the determining trend in the development of Socialist economy, say, in particular, the progressive merging of kolkhoz property into state property, if looked at from the perspective of that unity of these two types of property, it is an objective imperative that the nature of the relations between them has to undergo a change. Therefore, from this point of view the content of the commodity, the form that still changes hands cannot remain unchanged in its essence. This feature is not only expressed in the fact that in Stalin's time the main agricultural means of production (tractor stations) were in the hands of the state and were not sold to the collectives, but in the fact that the prices of the kolkhoz production sold to the state were made to deviate from the cost of production. The main means of production were not subject to commodity circulation between the State and the collectives, for which the collectives were obliged to sell their production at state fixed prices. The tendency was to replace this obligatory sale by direct products exchange, an expression of the progressive elevation of the collective property into State, socialised property. The law of value in this sphere stops being the economic regulator, in other words the commodities exchanged cease to be commodities, it is their form that is utilised to develop a new form of economic relations:
'...in the relations of products exchange (that excludes the transformation of the product into a commodity, a form of relations that was replacing commodity exchange between the State and the kolkhoz in Stalin's time, especially beginning from late '40s. My note.) such a category as price remains. On the basis of the products-exchange the kolkhozes acquire industrial goods at lower prices, but for money; the apparatus of commodity circulation also serves the apparatus of products exchange since the kolkhozians purchase for money in the co-operative shops goods that have been allocated by the State to the funds of products-exchange.' (N. Smolin, Voprosy ekonomiki, Moscow, 1953, Volume 1, No. 1, p. 44).
In fact the commodity sold, i.e. that changes owner, is sold to the kolkhoz at a lower price, or if looked at in the opposite direction, agricultural goods are sold for a higher price to the State. In this sense this operation of buying-selling, preserves in form the character of a labour exchange operation corresponding to the commodity production of independent producers, as the Kolkhoz and the Socialist State are to a certain extent. On the other hand the law of value, the economic law of commodity production, is essentially overcome, is violated on a regular basis, is not, therefore, a regulator of the exchange of labour between the State and the collective sector. As a content, the product exchanged ceases to be a commodity since it corresponds to a different type of relations, since it is not the law of value that regulates its circulation, the proportion of this good exchanged to that one and so on is not established according to the principle of equivalence of values. Since the exchange is implemented between subjects that up to a certain extent face each other as independent producers, up to a certain extent the Socialist plan does not control the kolkhoz production, since the latter faces the former in both formal and practical terms as a collective, and therefore in terms of property relations, the principle of equivalence will intervene, and hence, will influence the exchange of labour between these branches of the Soviet economy. There is no doubt that the role of accounting in value terms still remains a powerful tool of accounting in the Socialist economy. However, the main economic law of Socialism, which in our modern conception was formulated by Stalin in 'Economic Problems', excludes the principle of equivalence of values as the regulator of the Socialist economy:
'the securing of the maximum satisfaction of the constantly rising material and cultural requirements of the whole of society through the continuous expansion and perfection of socialist production on the basis of higher techniques.' (J.V. Stalin, ibid, p. 45.)
Stalin explicitly denied the regulating character of the influence of the law of value in the distribution of means of production (page 58). Therefore the regulator of Socialist society holds a different nature, it materialises relations of production of a different character. As a result it is not the principle of equal value that determines the portions of labour that circulate among different subjects of the Socialist economy. This economic regulator holds a different nature by virtue of the main economic law of Socialism. The Soviet Kolkhoz, due to historical backwardness with respect to industry, has to be sold industrial goods at lower prices and has to be allocated machinery. It is not by virtue of the granting of loans that this type of relations is materialised, since the very fact of the allocation of a grant assumes as a premise the implementation of the law of the value as a regulator of the economy, and therefore contradicts the main law of Socialism. Otherwise, for instance, there would not be applied the primary character of the first department with respect to the second, the fact that branches less profitable or even unprofitable at a given time may be temporarily developed at the expense of others more profitable. It becomes obvious that the principle of profitability is not the leading criterion of the distribution of labour in a Socialist society. Therefore the law of value is not the regulator of the socialist economy, since:
'Change of labour for labour, in correspondence to the principle of equality... This is the law of value - the main law of commodity production, and therefore that of its highest form - capitalist production; as well.' (F. Engels, Selected Works, Izdatelstvo Politicheskoi Literatury, Moscow, 1989, p. 290).
The law of value not being a regulator of the economy, the new regulator holds a different nature. This latter feature impels Soviet organs of planning to pull out the law of value as the regulator of the exchange of labour among different branches of the Socialist economy. Therefore the law of value as Stalin correctly stressed in 'Economic Problems' is not an intrinsic law of socialist production, it is not inherent to it, it is external to it, it influences production from the outside. Here we imply that this consideration should be applied to the socialised State sector, since, for instance, the production of the Kolkhoz or the individual peasant that is meant to be sold in the free market is to be considered intrinsically commodity production. This consideration is opposed to the modern revisionist conception of Market Socialism; its ideologists stressed that the law of value is a law of socialist production, since all socialist products adopt the form of commodities, that the law of value would overcome its original character and would be transformed in its essence to become an instrument of Socialist planning. In other words, the law of value as a general expression for the establishment of the distribution of labour in the economy, would become the form of the socialist economic regulator, i.e., the socialist planning would be implemented, would develop within the form, through the law of value, through the principle of profitability of the economic subject taken isolated from the rest of the economic whole.
In going through the revisionist economic literature of let us say the 70's it is clearly seen that the thesis of the commodity character of all the socialist economy had become dominant ('godspodsvuyushim'). But, which is more relevant, this thesis, the foundation of the whole conception of market socialism, is presented de facto as a sort of axiom, a statement that is to be stressed without substantiation. One then could think that it was sometime in the past that the ideologists of modern revisionism had 'proved' this nonsense in a more or less rational way. In fact in the economic discussions of the second half of the 50's the only sensible argument that the economists could put forward was basically based on the assertion that the commodity production in the Soviet Union already held existed de facto in a universal character, that the time had come for economists to overcome dogmatism and overcome the Stalinist framework. This theoretical 'accomplishment' is adopted by Andreevism in Russia.
Comrade Mironyuk formally accepts the basic restriction on the sphere of commodity production:
'This market was called 'single component market' because the commodities in this market consisted only of the essential consumer goods for the people and not the means of production nor the product of production-technical assignments' (Revolutionary Democracy, Vol III, No. 1, Delhi, 1997, p. 54).
With this formulation comrade Mironyuk seems to tend to divorce from Andreevism in the main. However, a deeper reading of this paper impels the reader to wonder whether this formulation holds a formal, declarative character or, on the contrary, is part of a self-consistent understanding of the Stalinist system that communists should defend with all their might.
One should note first of all that in the times of the post-war Soviet Union, the historical background of the economic discussions that we all refer to, the mass of products that were treated as commodities both in content and in form consisted not only of the consumer goods that comrade Mironyuk mentions in his paper, but also of the products exchanged between the state and the collective producers. Leaving apart the quantitative side of the question, that is the ratio of these two contributions, at that time the theoretical discussion about the dialectical dying-off of commodity-money relations was envisaged mainly through the question of the merging of collective property into the state property. In other words, if one is going to consider the question of the dying-off of commodities one should handle the whole issue since it is both the consumer goods funds and the State-Kolkhoz exchange that develop and therefore have to be studied as a whole. Otherwise, it would turn out that the commodities circulating between the State and the population have to undergo a substantially different process of dying-off, i.e. they would be in a radically different way replaced by direct products exchange. It is hard to conceive this problem from the standpoint of the two-component commodity funds. Stalin put forward the famous formula for the step-by-step replacement of commodity exchange by products exchange, and concretised this process in the given Soviet reality and corresponding development of the forces of production. According to the interpretation of the Stalinist system given by comrade Mironyuk a different path for the dialectical dying-off is envisaged, which in our opinion stands in its essence in frank contradiction with this system. This side will be unveiled when one gets to the author's conception of the relation between prices and cost of production in the socialist economy. On the other hand let us note that comrade Mironyuk includes as part of his conception of the allegedly Stalinist 'single component market' the application of the law of demand and supply:
'The retail price of the commodity (the final product) was determined by the two factors: quality and demand. The better the quality of the commodity the higher its demand and so a higher retail price was established. It is this price which forms the equilibrium between demand and supply'. (Ibid., p. 54)
Stalin's assertion is well-known that the only sector of the economy in which the commodity circulation exists is in the free market, where the peasants would sell some surplus production that was not yet embraced by the cooperation with the State. It is also well known that the turnover of this sphere of commodity circulation was hindered by the development of the socialist forces of production and never played a major role in the theoretical question of the role of commodity-money relations in Socialism. This side of the question directly applies to the author's conception of the dying-off of commodity- money relations. If one is to consider the question of the preservation of commodity production circulation based on the objective necessity for a consumer goods market (still this is as pointed out above in contradiction with the Stalinist system according to which the objective necessity of commodity production and circulation in Socialism lies in the existence of two forms of property, not on the Socialist principle of distribution) one is impelled to establish and concretise the mechanism of the dialectical dying off of these categories and understand that the passage from the socialist to the communist principle of distribution requires the establishment of a proper distinction between form and content of the economic categories. Further, as was being implemented in the post-war period, the retail prices of the consumer goods were in general being lowered, however this step-by-step lowering of retail prices was by far not uniform. Primary necessity goods were lowered faster than, let us say, caviar. This circumstance and its significance for the passage from the socialist to the communist system of distribution is not understood by Mironyuk. One is impelled to establish restrictions for the applicability of the law of supply and demand: it is absurd to assert that the prices of bread, which is circulated as a commodity as well, are fixed by the state according to demand and supply. The demand and supply for a certain commodity produced and sold by the State to the population cannot determine the prices of these commodities; it can to a restricted extent influence them. And the extent of this influence is to decrease with the development of the Socialist forces of production, perhaps faster than commodity production and circulation themselves. In any case Stalin ruled out the determining role of the law of demand and supply in this category of commodity circulation where the State is involved as the producer and seller of goods and services, since the anarchy and competition in production has been historically overcome.
'...the law of balanced (proportionate) development of the national economy... has superseded the law of competition and anarchy of production'. (J.V. Stalin, ibid. p. 25.
A Marxist cannot accept that which is considered by the classics the direct expression of the anarchy in production, the law of demand and supply, be applicable as a regulator in the distribution of consumer goods among the members of the Socialist society. Mironyuk's assertion bears witness to the author's understanding of the role of the economic category of price in the socialist economy and how significant this category is for the dialectical dying-off of commodity production in the passage to Communism. The author retains the revisionist requirement of the preservation of both the form and content of these economic categories. It cannot be otherwise since in the author's opinion the category of price manifests itself as an economic form of the law of demand and supply, a law intrinsic to commodity production (in the full sense of the concept).
As pointed out above comrade Mironyuk accepted the restriction on the sphere of commodity production and circulation. However, a closer analysis of his text brings out a different point of view other than that of a truly consistent Stalinist one. A further reading of Mironyuk points out that this restriction proves to be a formal one, holds no more than a declarative character under which a much different content is developed. One can read:
'The total difference between the cost price and the retail price of commodities constitutes the centralised net income of the state, part of which is directed towards the social funds for social accumulation and consumption, part of which is passed on to the workers indirectly in the form of decreased retail prices for consumer goods and services.
'Since the basis of the centralised net income of the State derives from consumption goods the State is interested in greater production of these goods as well as an improvement of their quality.' (Revolutionary Democracy, loc. cit.)
This statement would raise the eyebrows of any Marxist. Any serious Marxist cannot see in these statement a whit of the Stalinism that comrade Mironyuk claims to defend, and perhaps, develop. Engels stressed in Anti-Dühring that the source of 'income' of the socialist State would be the product of the labour exerted by the socialist society and is distributed by the Socialist state in order to satisfy the needs of the society as a whole and as a perspective of development. No Marxist economist in the Soviet Union ever conceived the total difference between the cost price and the retail price of the consumer goods as the net income of the State, the funds that make possible production and reproduction of the Socialist economy. Just a part of the funds available to the Socialist state are allocated to the fund of consumption. It is the funds for consumption that are extracted from the total funds available by the Socialist state. And the funds of the Socialist state, the labour that make them up are not generated in circulation, but in production. It is the Socialist state that distributes to different branches of the economy the amount of labour accumulated after a given cycle, including to the funds of consumption, according to the main economic law of Socialism. It would be funny to apply Mironyuk's statement, for instance, to the war Socialist economy when most consumer goods are rationed with a fixed price. How is then the Socialist state able to find the resources to increase the overall national production, as happened in the Great Patriotic War? How is then possible the growth of the industrial output under a stable system of prices?
From the point of view of a revisionist economist this statement is deprived of any sense. Even a modern revisionist pretty well understands that the source of accumulation that makes possible reproduction is based on the appropriation of what they would call the surplus product, made of the labour that creates the difference of value between the price of the commodity and its cost price.
Further, from the last sentence it follows that the development of the forces of production in Socialism is allegedly based on the development of the market of consumer goods, i.e., light industry. It turns out that the development of heavy industry depends and is derived from the development of light industry, arrant nonsense for any economist that wishes to call himself Stalinist. The Socialist principle for the primacy of the Department I section over Department II is simply dismissed. It seems that comrade Mironyuk has not paid special attention to the Stalinist considerations in 'Economic Problems' in which, exposing the anti-Marxist stand of L.D. Yaroshenko, Stalin summarises the classics' stand on the theory of reproduction in a Socialist economy. Stalin quotes Marx:
'If production were socialised, instead of capitalistic, it is evident that these products of Department I would just as regularly be distributed as means of production to the various lines of production of this department, for purposes of reproduction, one portion remaining directly in that sphere of production which created it, another passing over to other lines of production of the same department, thereby entertaining a constant mutual exchange between the various lines of production of this department' (Marx, Capital, Vol.II, 8th edition, p. 307. In Economic Problems).
and, further, concludes
'Consequently, Marx by no means considered that his theory of reproduction was valid only for the capitalist mode of production, although it was the laws of the capitalist mode of production he was investigating. We see, on the contrary, that he held that his theory of reproduction might be valid also for the socialist mode of production'. (J.V. Stalin, ibid., p. 90).
Comrade Mironyuk is reversing the process of the reproduction of Socialist economy, subjugating the development of the first department to the second. Stalin, based on classical considerations delivers the famous statement on the primacy of the first department with respect to the second. Stalin struggles against all kind of revisionist theories, beginning with Bukharinism, ending up with Voznesensky and the economic discussions of 1951. And it is this question, the interrelation of light and heavy industry, that played a major role in all these discussions. One has to go through the economic discussions of the '20s to understand the significant role played in this by the revisionist conceptions, the interrelation between heavy and light industry, which reaches a final expression in the problem of the main economic regulator of the transition period. This is indispensable to understand the bulk of the right opportunist theory of the development of the socialist economy. This study would help comrades like Mironyuk to get a flavour of the greatness of the Stalinist role in theory and practice of the socialist construction in the Soviet Union, and would prevent them from reproducing the old revisionist theses under the facade of Stalinism, it would enable him to understand the real essence and genesis of Andreevism and would assist them to see the harm that this tendency has exerted on the historical task for the construction of the Marxist-Leninist Party in Russia.
This is not by far a simple and isolated wrong element in the system that comrade Mironyuk is proposing to the Marxist-Leninists in Russia. On the contrary, this statement constitutes part of a broader concealed market conception of the Socialist economy. Only a market conception of Socialism can be consistent with this type of statement, that it is through the selling of commodities, in a market in which prices would be determined by the law of demand and supply, where the Socialist state would receive the net centralised income. The Stalinist system is looked upon through the mirror of a vulgar 'marketism'.
Comrade Mironyuk in his paper displays in our opinion a wrong understanding of the role that the lowering of prices play in the Stalinist economic theory for the transition to communism. The lowering of prices that was implemented step by step in the post-war period in the Soviet Union cannot be understood isolated from the Stalinist programme for the construction of communism (see Vijay Singh in 'The CPSU(B), Gosplan and the Question of the Transition to Communist Society in the Soviet Union 1939-1953', Revolutionary Democracy, Vol. III, No. 1, Delhi, 1997). The lowering of prices in the sphere of consumer goods, as pointed out above, was an integral part of the passage from the Socialist principle of distribution to the Communist one. The economic category of price is utilised by the Socialist state in order to introduce a new type of relations of distribution, it is implemented in a system of circulation of commodities, that cease to be commodities, in a market that ceases to be a market, in a market that preserves an external appearance of a market but which is forced to allow within itself the development of relations of a different type, a development which embodies the dying-off of the old economic categories. This methodological question, the approach to the question of commodity-money relations from the perspective of their dialectical dying-off, comrade Mironyuk ignores in his system. This dialectical dying-off is pitifully replaced by a conception that was put forward by Andreevism in the late '80s and whose 'authorship' unfortunately cannot be claimed by Comrade Mironyuk. Comrade Mironyuk understands, on the one hand, these economic policies as a form of indirect payment of the population and, on the other, as an economic mechanism that fits his system of production and reproduction. The lowering of prices is preeminently understood as one of the mechanisms for the mechanical replacement of profitability as the main index for economic effectiveness by the decrease of cost price, which in essence leaves the content of the economic categories untouched. In this sense comrade Mironyuk has not gone further than early Andreevism as may be explicitly seen.
'If in Stalin's times the index of quality of the work of the enterprise consisted of the decrease of the cost of production and the growth of labour productivity, in the Khrushchev and Brezhnev reforms this index was replaced by profit. If the cost of production is reduced and then the wholesale and retail prices are lowered the only way out is to introduce new machinery and technology, to economise raw material, energy and labour force. However, with the transformation of profit as the main index of the effectiveness of the socialist enterprise it became possible to manoeuvre with the increasing of prices of production in order to fulfil the planned profit'. (N.A. Andreeva, Bolshevik, Leningrad, 1992, p. 10).
Andreevism proposed a sui generis economic explanation for the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union; Khrushchev's mistake in their opinion would allegedly consist in the introduction of a wrong mechanism for increasing of the productivity of labour. Andreevism argues that the introduction of profitability as the main index of effectiveness in the socialist enterprise is not good because the planned profit may be fulfilled by just artificially raising the price of the production, a mechanism does not interest the enterprise in increasing labour productivity, etc.... So Andreevism objects to the way the market in Socialism is handled proposing a new mechanism, allegedly put forward first by Stalin, based on the very same market, that of lowering planned prices (the Socialist state forces the State enterprise to sell the product at given prices).
Here the economic policy of lowering prices does not hold the Stalinist interpretation, namely, that of the destruction of the old content of these economic categories and their replacement with a different content, and in this respect the lowering of prices implies a direct mechanism for the dying-off, is a direct expression of this process. However, according to Andreevism, Stalin would have proposed a mechanism of lowering prices in order to interest the enterprise in increasing productivity, the only possible way then of restoring the gap between the planned price and the cost price, the only possible way of keeping afloat the market.
'The producers of various articles, of industrial machinery and semi-finished goods are interested in reducing the cost-price of their products as the difference between the wholesale price and the real (new) cost-price at a given moment remains with the manufacturer. These circumstances stimulate a rise in labour productivity, lower energy consumption, decrease the material intensity of production and promote the development of applied sciences.' (Revolutionary Democracy, Vol. III, No. 1, Delhi, 1997, pp. 54-55).
It turns out that according to Andreevism the effectiveness of the enterprise is determined by the difference between the planned price that has been forced to drop by the state and the decreased cost price, which is a result of the effort of the enterprise in developing the productivity of labour by introducing new technology, etc.... The very development of the market is not questioned, on the contrary, in the Andreevite system the capitalist mechanism of competition, which impels the independent private producer to increase the labour productivity, is simply replaced by the economic policy of lowering of retail prices, forced by the Socialist state.
The thesis displays a flagrantly subjectivist, voluntarist approach to political economy that Stalin fought against in the economic discussions of 1951. In essence, the objective character of the economic laws of commodity production are ignored and get overridden by the conscious action of an almighty planning centre, the Socialist state that finds itself in a position of adjusting to its will the evolution of the market of commodities. Comrade Mironyuk thinks it is possible to play around with the market, to destroy it by developing it. This is indeed a deeply contradictory conception. On the one hand Socialist production is in both form and content a commodity economy (despite comrade Mironyuk's formal declaration, as will be clarified below), which implies the existence and objective operation of the laws of commodity production. On the other hand, prices are lowered by the state planning organs, i.e. without changing the nature of the commodity production, the nature of the commodity, its price is forcibly lowered. De facto the author denies the objective character of the laws of commodity production when at the same time he considers everything produced to acquire the form of commodity and be treated as such in essence. This is the same illusion that Dühring fostered, that of liquidating Catholicism with the best Pope. The only substantial difference would be based on the 'novel' consideration of the forcible lowering of the retail prices.
Here, the mechanism of competition in Capitalist society would be replaced by the forcible lowering of retail prices in Socialism. The same tendency that Capitalist economy undergoes, the reduction of surplus value in both relative and absolute terms, the Socialist Market would accomplish in a conscious way. The anarchic laws of Capitalism would be replaced by the conscious, planned approach of the almighty Socialist state, which is to find itself in a position of overriding the objective laws of commodity production. The Socialist state would function in the economy as a Capitalist state, it would replace chaos by order in the same framework of the sea of independent commodity producers. Without knowing it the seeds of social fascism get surely and safely sown.
A different mechanism for the dying-off of commodity-money relations is proposed on the basis of commodity-money relations themselves. In essence, the Stalinist understanding of the dialectical dying-off of the value categories via their replacement by natural categories is replaced by a system that proposes that, under the observation of certain rules, the whole system of commodity production and circulation will become obsolete under the basis of this very same system of commodity production and circulation, through their development, not through their replacement by other categories, not through the utilisation of the old forms but through the development of the old content that the old categories will die of by themselves, will become obsolete.
The classical conception of the dying-off of the old categories that was developed in the political economy of Socialism by Stalin with respect to the commodity money relations, is replaced by the considerations of their 'obsoletisation'. The dying-off of the market takes place when value categories will become obsolete. And the argument in support of this 'obsoletisation' of the market relations is based on the consideration that with the development of commodity-money relations:
'...humanity reaches a stage beyond which the entire manufactured product objectively is comprised of necessary product' (ibid., p. 53).
'...As a result of the reduction of retail prices the general mass of money circulating in the economy also decreases. Because of a reduction in the cost of essential commodities and services in larger quantities they become free. Gradually value, commodity-money regulators cease to play any role in social production and so cease to exist' (ibid., pp. 55-56).
Since the proportion of surplus value transferred to the product becomes lower and lower, as Marx scientifically proved for the development of capitalism, and under the conditions that the Socialist state takes over under its control this process, at the very end (one could add, asymptomatically speaking), the manufactured product will be comprised of necessary product.
This approach implies the necessity of introducing a division of the labour into necessary and surplus. The whole mechanism proposed is based on this calculation and presupposes, therefore, the division. If the Socialist state is to fix a price, the final price of a product, the enterprise has to try its best to reduce the necessary time. This is the labour that creates what Marx defines in Capital as relative surplus value. The only way that the enterprise is left over is the reduction in the conditions of a constant working day (constant absolute surplus value) is the reduction of the cost of production, the amount of labour and means of production that are necessary to produce something is decreased. The division of the product into necessary and surplus is a premise, something without which the whole system would not work, since it would be simply deprived of its material substance. The fact that the Socialist state forces prices down presupposes the assumption that the enterprise will understand what to consider necessary and what to consider surplus, otherwise the enterprise will simply fail to undershoot the planned prices. As a result, the increase of relative surplus value becomes the goal of production. Andreevism has resolved the internal inconsistency of a market system that allowed within itself the possibility of increasing prices without creating value. It turns out that in place of proposing a formula for the liquidation of market relations, Andreevism proposes the way of saving this market. This theory is a market theory per se. In the view of old and revived Andreevism the role of the Socialist state is that of completing what the capitalist State in view of historical reasons will not be in a position to do. Comrade Mironyuk hand in hand with Andreevism does not question the necessity of the state in dividing the labour materialised in the product into necessary and surplus, something that Stalin had so clearly and bluntly exposed as a direct expression of the restoration of capitalist relations of production, a direct attack on those who, under the facade of Socialist market, develop nothing but State Capitalism:
'More, I think that we must also discard other concepts taken from Marx's Capital - where Marx was concerned with an analysis of capitalism - and artificially pasted on to our socialist relations. I am referring to such concepts, among others, as 'necessary' and 'surplus' labour, 'necessary' and 'surplus' product, 'necessary' and 'surplus' time.... But it is strange, to say the least, to use these concepts now, when the working class is not only not bereft of power and means of production, but, on the contrary, it is in possession of the power and controls the means of production' (J.V. Stalin, Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR, Foreign Language Publishing House, Moscow, 1952, pp. 21-22).
As pointed out above comrade Mironyuk formally accepts the non-commodity character of the means of production in the Socialist society. In view of the obvious inconsistency of Mironyuk's system, which represents just a facade of what he claims to defend, one feels impelled to make a further inquiry into his understanding of the character of the circulation of labour within the state sector. Bearing in mind the meaning of the category of price put forward by Stalin in Economic Problems, as discussed above one should be shocked by statements like:
'Wholesale prices are determined by the level of the cost price' (Revolutionary Democracy, Vol. III, No. 1, Delhi, 1997, p. 54).
Here comrade Mironyuk makes an explicit statement when he introduces the necessity for the strict correspondence of the price of the State product to their cost price, which is assumed to be equal to the socially necessary labour required for its production (unless comrade Mironyuk puts forward a new definition of cost price). In this sense we have to thank him for not allowing room for ambiguous interpretations. In his system this price expresses the way products are exchanged in general. According to comrade Mironyuk the prices of the State product are determined by their cost price, therefore it is the principle of equality of value, i.e., the law of value that regulates the proportion of labour between the branches of the State sector. One should not be naive and think that comrade Mironyuk thought hard before coming to such a conclusion. He simply has mechanically reproduced a conception that became widespread in the post-Stalinist period. Revisionist professors thoroughly kept in mind the essence of the imposition of the correspondence between price and cost price.
'It is very well known the general formula of the law of value, according to which the prices are determined by the expending of abstract, socially necessary labour, and exchange of labour, therefore is practised on the basis of the principle of equivalency. And in socialism, in correspondence with the law of value, prices are based on the amount of abstract, social necessary labour spent in the course of its production in the process of the planned activity of socialist enterprises, and the planned exchange of commodities is produced on the basis of equivalency'. K. Ostrovitianov, ibid., pp. 307-8).
No one is going to deny that comrade Mironyuk's statement, which is actually the basic principle on which his interpretation of Stalin is built, embodies nothing but the application of the law of value as the economic regulator of the Socialist economy, i.e. Market Socialism.
A Marxist who wishes to call himself a follower of Stalin, who wishes to propagandise the Stalinist contribution to the theory of the construction of Socialism and Communism, cannot come out with a statement that is written all over the place in the revisionist economic literature of the post-Stalinist period. This simple statement tears apart the 'Stalinism' of comrade Mironyuk.
It was from the '20s that Stalin and the Marxist-Leninists in the party had been fighting against the propagation of the law of value in production. The pro-market Bukharinite traditions were taken over by modern revisionism after the death of Stalin. If one goes through the economic discussions of the second half of the '50s one clearly sees that the Soviet economists at that time were trying to do their very best to get rid of 'Stalinist dogmatism', and come to the conclusion that prices in Socialism should stick to the value of the product (now, of course, this product is treated as a commodity in essence). After some years of discussions in which the pro-marketers took over and in which many honest economists were simply forced to give up Marxism, the Academy of Sciences finally came out with the thesis that became the widespread one later on, that which comrade Mironyuk stubbornly reproduces:
'prices fixed by the state plan are based on their value' (Manual of Political Economy, Gospolitizdat, Moscow, 1959, p. 518).
If Comrade Mironyuk had paid any notice at all to the economic discussions that accompanied the reforms of 1953-1967 he would have been able to notice that the ideologists of modern revisionism tried to substantiate the liquidation of the Stalinist system for the passage to Communism, that required the replacement of commodity-money categories by direct products exchange. This requirement resulted in the existence of a multiplicity of prices, something specially well seen in the system of prices for the goods exchanged between the State and the Kolkhoz. The gradual passage to direct products exchange was implemented though special contracts with the Kolkhoz for the exchange of agricultural production. The passage to the communist economy requires that the commodity-money relations be replaced by a regulator of a different type, namely a regulator that distributes labour according to the needs of the society as a whole. The Stalinist system of prices corresponded to the initial stage of construction of Communism and it was founded on the basic assumption that the main means of production should be in the hands of society. The transformation of the means of production into commodities started off in the Soviet Union with the sale of the machine tractor stations to the Kolkhozy. The process of transformation of the means of production into commodities was in the main finalised in the late '50s (See Vijay Singh, 'Stalin and the Question of 'Market Socialism' in the Soviet Union after the Second World War', Revolutionary Democracy, Vol. I, No. 1, April, 1995.). The final restoration of the market economy required that the Stalinist system of prices be dismantled and brought under the dictate of the law of value:
'The multiplicity of prices (for the kolkhozian production. My note.) is in contradiction with the action of the law of value. There appears a non-correspondence ('nesootvietsvie') between the cost ('sebiestoimost') of kolkhozian production and the circulation of prices' (K. Ostrovitianov, ibid., p. 26).
The requirement of the prices to stick to the cost of production is no more than an expression of the restoration of the market and the introduction of the law of value as the regulator of the economy. The liquidation of the multiplicity of prices was a conscious action that brings within itself the necessary condition for the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union. The importance of the liquidation of the Stalinist system of prices was pointed out by the majority of the Soviet economists of the post-Stalinist period. It was acknowledged by the ideologists of modern revisionism that the economic reforms that followed the death of Stalin were well oriented and followed a concrete programme for the broadening of the sphere of action of commodity-money relations.
'In the course of the reforms (the reforms of wholesale prices of 1967. My note.) there were implemented a great deal of changes in the system of prices... One of the main results of these reforms is the approach of the prices to the social necessary expense of labour ('obshestvenno neobkhomie zhatraty truda') (The History of the Political Economy of Socialism, lzdatelstvo Leningradskovo Universiteta, Leningrad, 1983, p. 314).
Comrade Mironyuk seems to ignore this basic feature in the history of political economy in the Soviet Union. He mechanically reproduces the conceptions that became dominant after the death of Stalin, that represent the period of the restoration of the market, the negation of those principles that comrade Mironyuk claims to defend. By requiring prices in Socialism to stick to the cost of production, comrade Mironyuk is reproducing modern revisionism with all its consequences, in essence he advocates the market. This consideration would be in consonance with the other elements discussed that make up his system, or to be more exact, what he regards as the Stalinist economic model. The author does not go beyond Andreevism in this respect, and therefore it represents a tendency that under the facade of Stalinism, in essence denies Stalin and reproduces the old thesis of modern revisionism, in particular, that of Market Socialism.
1. Socialist Countries - main trend and centre of the world revolutionary centre. Significance of the struggle for the Restoration of the USSR for the development of this process.
The Socialist formation lives and is being developed in China, North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam and Laos. The Socialist construction in each country is characterized by its own historical, social-economic, demographic, spiritual and other conditions, which is an expression of their own changing political and external conditions. Each of these countries came to socialism in a different unrepeatable way and have contributed to the general development of the world revolutionary movement.
The 14th Congress of the Communist Party of China [CPC] (1992) has formulated the theory of the construction of socialism with Chinese specificity, that is based on the consideration that between socialist economy and market relations there does not exist differences of principle, that the coordination of the planned economy and market relations makes it possible to do away with the possible constraints on the development of the forces of production and gives an impulse to economic development. The Congress has called for the formation of the system of Socialist market relations in China.
Some theoreticians, making a critique of the Chinese experience, deny any possibility of the existence of commodity production (exchange of goods through buying-selling) in socialism based on the consideration that this definitely will bring the restoration of capitalism. It is convenient to note that J.V. Stalin in his work 'Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR' regarded it necessary to expose these theorists with a solid argumentation. In the work of J.V. Stalin it is clearly said that the commodity production and the commodity exchange, being under the control of the socialist state and in the conditions of the liquidation of the system of exploitation, not only will not result in capitalism but it should be regarded as an 'indispensable and very useful element' in the system of the socialist economy. By building socialism with Chinese specificity, the Chinese communists intensively used the experience of the development of the economy of the USSR (both the negative and the positive), different conceptions of the commodity production in socialism in different stages of its development, and of course also the Leninist NEP.
In the past years the Chinese people have reached memorable achievements in all sectors of the economy, which has been made possible in the opinion of the Chinese comrades, thanks to the political line of Deng Xiaoping, based on the principles of the socialist path of development, the democratic dictatorship of the people, of the leadership of the Communist Party of China, Marxism-Leninism and the ideas of Mao Zedong.
...ln China it is widely propagandised the experience of Chenchenia - the super-modern towns in the south of the country. It is namely here where the Chinese market of high technologies is concentrated, and where almost all 'highly-technologised' countries have representatives.... In one of the factories there are employed 4700 workers, mainly women. The company is a Chinese-Hong-Kong-American-Japanese-British joint venture. 60 percent of the shares belong to the Chinese state, 30 to the foreign investors (just a little bit to each foreign company) and 10 to the workers of the company.
It should be noted that in China the socialist political system is being perfected and strengthened. Those elements in the relations of production and in the superstructure that do not correspond to the development of the forces of production and the general social progress are eradicated on time. As well, the dominant role of the social property, that develops jointly with other economic elements, and the structure of distribution is mainly determined by the socialist principle of the distribution according to the amount of labour.
...socialist transformations that are currently accomplished in North Korea under the banners of the Juche ideas, which in essence is based on the reliance on its own forces, on the struggle for independence, are making possible the constant growth of the standard of living of the Korean people, flourishing of culture, education, reinforcement of the defence and the military power of the country. The organiser and the spiritual leader of the socialist construction in North Korea is the Labour Party of Korea, currently led by the continuator of the work of Kim Il Sung, the supreme leader of North Korea and the Korean people, the comrade Kim Chen Il.
...Today the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is on the path of reconstruction, which line has been adopted by the Communist Party of Vietnam. Democratic liberties are being broadened, and the system of management of the society is becoming better.
...From 1986 Laos is actively accomplishing, thanks to the experience of China, market reforms and the policy of 'open gates' that got the name of the 'new economic mechanism', More than 30 countries invest in Laos in more than 500 programmes.
...It is noteworthy that as a result of the visit of Castro to China and Vietnam in December 1995, it was decided to implement in Cuba, of course taking account its own specific conditions, the experience of these countries (specially that which concerns the opening to foreign capital and the coexistence of the planned and market systems) in order from the economic crisis and to break the economic isolation of the republic.
...Taking account of the peculiarities of the socialist construction in these countries we may observe obvious features common to all of them that are in correspondence with the theory of Marxism-Leninism and that have to be always present in a socialist economy: the superiority of the social ownership of the means of production, the scientific planning of the economy, the development of socialist democracy, the state power of the working class and it allies - the labouring peasantry and the people's intelligentsia.
4. Opportunism and national-chauvinism - the puppets of imperialism.
...It is indispensable to take into account that the actions of the leadership of the USSR (after the death of J.V. Stalin, note of translator) were not only determined by just their narrow interests, as the Yeltsinist 'democrats' love to say, but also by their concern about the strengthening of the global military-strategic and commercial-economic interests of the Soviet Union. In this connection it would be a mistake to deny that both in the times of Khrushchev and Brezhnev the leadership was determined to defend the interests of the USSR and the socialist camp in order to provide Europe with security, specially concerning the German question and defence of the GDR and, although with certain reservations socialist conquests in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and other countries of Eastern Europe. The USSR displayed a robust defence of its interests in the Middle and Far East as well as in several regions of Africa.
...As a result of the talks between Khrushchev and Tito in Belgrade in May-June 1955 both sides restored diplomatic relations. A declaration was signed in which it was noted that: 'The questions... (also in the original text, note of the translator) regarding the differences in the social systems and differences of concrete forms of development of socialism are an internal affair of the peoples of every nation.' This sounds right in a first approach, although here the question of the existence of general forms of development of socialist society (common to all countries, note of the translator) is avoided. The main issue here is that in fact this leads to the support to the deviation of Yugoslavia from genuine socialist construction and the acceptance of Yugoslavia leaving the socialist camp with the passage to the position of neutrality. Naturally this was used by NATO to pull Yugoslavia into its political and military orbit.
The historical fact that subsequently Yugoslavia over a long period of time played an active member of the neutral nations, had by itself a positive significance....
....Based on the analysis of the current concrete-historical situation, the AUCP(B) draws the conclusion that the centre of the world revolutionary movement is moving to Asia and in part to Latin America. This conclusion has a relevant theoretical and practical significance. On the one hand, this helps the revolutionary masses to focus on solidarity and support to those countries that are really constructing socialism. On the other, it makes possible a mutual solidarity of these countries with the struggle of the Soviet people against the restoration of capitalism, for the resurrection of the Soviet Union. The point of view of some 'left communists' according to which the centre of the world communist movement is based in Russia, is therefore not substantiated. We say to these comrades: let's restore the Soviet Union with its economic potential of a great power and then it will be clear at that time where is placed the centre of the world revolutionary movement in that certain concrete situation. It is assumed that our thesis does not imply the underestimation of the significance of the struggle of the Soviet people for the restoration of the Soviet Union in order to strengthen the world revolutionary process....
In the present stage of the world revolutionary movement it becomes a significant factor for the struggle for peace against the breaking out of the third world war...
A relevant place and, if necessary a central one have the questions of foreign policy in the interviews and contacts of the leadership of the AUCP(B) with the representatives of communist and workers parties, as well as the participation in different international forums. In this connection let us note that despite the fact that the CPRF (Communist Party of the Russian Federation, led by Gennady Zyuganov, note of the translator) claims to be the first to follow the path to Peking (Zyuganov visited that country in May 1995) the priority here corresponds to our side, which established the first contact with Peking in August 1992 (priority here applies to the priority of the Chinese in their relations with the communist parties in Russia, i.e. AUCP(B) bears the priority, note of the translator). Our party sent greetings to the international conference at Frankfurt-on-Main that celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mao Zedong. The General Secretary of the CC, N.A. Andreeva took part in the seminar at Hyderabad (India) with the topic 'Marxism-Leninism-Mao Thought and Revolutionary Movements'.
Published in 'Za Bolshevism', 4th of April, 1996.
Click here to return to the September 1997 index.