Dialogue with Stalin (2)
To precisely define the economy of contemporary Russia, we on the first day of this dispute with Stalin's "answers" to our Marxist inquiries and demonstrations mainly concerned ourselves emphasizing the incommensurateness of commodity production and socialist economy. For us, every system of commodity production in the modern world, a world of associated labour, that is the aggregation of workers in production plants, is defined as capitalist economy.
Let's now get to the question of the stages of socialist economy (better: of socialist organization) and the distinction between lower and higher stage of communism. To get away from the definition of "immovable" and thus abstract systems and to put ourselves on the ground of history, let's anticipate the central assertion of our doctrine: The transition from capitalist to socialist economy doesn't happen in an instant, but in a long process. We must thus assume, that for a relatively long period there might be a coexistence of private and collective sectors, of capitalist (and precapitalist) and socialist realms. But we specify already that every realm, every sector, in which commodities (including human labour power) circulate, are bought and sold, is capitalist economy.
In the now distributed and in the meantime for us available scripture, Stalin explains, that in the Russian agricultural sector commodity production, respectively market economy exists (he further confirms the existence of private economy, insofar as some means of production are in private ownership as well), and he asserts that the industrial sector (large scale industry) only produces commodities when goods for consumption, but not when goods for production are produced. Nevertheless he acts convinced, to not only be able to call the sector of large scale industry, but the entire Russian economy socialist, even though commodity production continues to prevail on a big basis.
We addressed all this already in our texts, which dealt with the basic documents of Marxism and the data of general economic history; today we must move over to the question of the "economic laws", particularly "the law of value."
Certainties and uncertainties
Let's first remark: To meet the objections of Russian economists, that invoke Engels to clarify that one can only leave capitalism if one leaves commodity production, that capitalism is only overcome where commodity production is overcome, Stalin only tries to read something different out of a single paragraph in "Anti-Dühring" than what is written there, whereas in the entire section "Socialism: Theoretical – Production – Distribution" Engels develops the addressed thesis – and very well-tailored for the Stalinist Dühring as well.
The paragraph reads: "With the seizing of the means of production by society production of commodities is done away with, and, simultaneously, the mastery of the product over the producer.."
Engels, remarks Stalin, didn't specify whether this concerns "all" or only "a part" of the means of production. The distinction might, or might not, seem very smart to one, from a theoretical point of view however, it is wrong. Only, so Stalin further, the social seizing of "all" means of production (Small and large scale industry, agriculture) allows to "get rid" of the system of commodity production. Caramba!
In 1919 we bestirred ourselves together with Lenin (and Stalin) until exhaustion, to force down the stubborn social democrats' and anarchists' throats, that the means of production cannot be conquered on a single day and by coup, and that precisely because of this – and only because of this – the terror, the dictatorship, is necessary. And today, new textbooks on political economy shall be published, that the absurdity, that all products lose their character as commodities on the day on which a functionary ascended to the Kremlin presents some Stalin with a decree for signature, which expropriates the last chicken of the last member of the last kolkhoz, is accepted.
In another paragraph, Engels talks about the seizing of all means of production, which is why we now need to hear that the above cited "formula of Engels cannot be described as entirely clear and exact" [Stalin, p. 11].
By the beard of the prophet Abraham, that's strong stuff! Friedrich Engels, of all people, the contemplative, calm, sharply defining, crystal clear Friedrich, master of the patience to get a holed ship going again and to straighten the historical doctrine; whose modesty and prowess are unreachable (behind the impetuous Marx, who occasionally might seem difficult to understand because of his far sight and excellent language, and because of this strength maybe – maybe – might be easier to distort); Engels, whose language is so fluid, and who by talent and because of scientific discipline doesn't omit a necessary word, nor adds an unnecessary one: of all people, one accuses him of a lack of precision and clarity!
One must put things into their place: We are not in the organizational office or in the agitation committee here, where you, ex-comrade Josef, might be able to persuade yourself to be able to have something on Engels. We are in the school of principles here. Where is the talk of the seizure of all means of production? Maybe there, where the talk is of commodities? Never. "Since the historical appearance of the capitalist mode of production, the appropriation by society of all the means of production has often been dreamed of, more or less vaguely, by individuals, as well as by sects, as the ideal of the future.", reminds us Engels. Precisely because for us it is not a thing of an ideal, but of science, we cannot let a "more or less" clear, respectively unclear, pass.
And when Engels, a few pages on, talks about society as mistress of all means of production, then precisely in the passage, where he deals with the entirety of demands: because only through this upheaval will the emancipation of all individuals be achieved. Engels then shows, that the sublation of the divide between town and country, manual and mental labour, the social and professional division of labour was already demanded by the utopians, particularly the keen Fourier and Owen (Stalin indeed admits the first two divides, but claims, again theoretically being gravely in the wrong: "This problem wasn't dealt with by the classics of Marxism" [Stalin, p.28]): In both, population should dispense across the country in groups of 1600 to 300, and mental and manual labour are in constant shift. Engels charges those justified and exalted demands only with one deficiency: the missing evidence (that only Marxism provided) of their realization given the basis of the then achieved and now excessive development of the productive forces. Anticipating the highest revolutionary victory, Engels describes an "organization of production", in which regarding productive labour "burden becomes passion" and reminds us of the closed reasoning in the 12. Chapter of the first volume of "Capital" about the destruction of the social division of labour and the human crippling factory despotism. Neither Stalin nor Malenkov can boast to have made a step in that direction. On the contrary: Stachanovism and sturmovchina (dialectical reactions of poor, crippled victims to the despotism in the haloed "sweatshops") are the proof, that one is marching into the direction of the all stifling capitalism.
Stalin is trivializing those postulates, by reducing them to the "disappearance of the contradiction of interest" between industry and agriculture, between physically working people and the "leading personnel". But something completely else is the point: The abolition of a social organization, in which the allocation of people onto these sectors and functions adheres to a strict division of labour.
Where have these passages of Engels ever allowed to say, that it wouldn't be necessary for the entire vast building of the future society, to destroy with every turn of the shovel the production of commodities, to shovel up post by post of its reeking trenches?
We of course here cannot recite for Stalin all the chapters, but as usual we cite the essential, because clear and unequivocal paragraphs, which we accept without restrictions and not say cum grano salis [with a grain of salt]. We know by old experience, how such grains of salt have turned into mountains.
Engels: "The 'exchange of labour for labour on the principle of equal valuation', in so far as it has any meaning, that is to say, the mutual exchangeability of products of equal social labour, hence the law of value, is the fundamental law of precisely commodity production, hence also of its highest form, capitalist production.". It follows the famous passage in which Dühring is reproached for, just as Proudhon, imagining the future society as a market economy and not seeing, how he is thus describing a capitalist economy. An "imaginary society", Engels says. At least Stalin in his not to be despised scripture describes an actually existing capitalist economy.
Marx: "Let us now picture to ourselves, by way of change, a community of free individuals, carrying on their work with the means of production in common, in which the labour power of all the different individuals is consciously applied as the combined labour power of the community.". This sentence alone is a revolutionary programme. With the future achievement of this form of social organization, succinctly labelled as communism, one returns to the Robinson with which one started. What does that mean? Robinson's product was no commodity, but an object of use, because there was – of course – no exchange. With eagle wings we fly over the entire history of humanity: "All the characteristics of Robinson's labour are here ["here" means: in the communist association] repeated, but with this difference, that they are social, instead of individual.". The only necessary textbook to learn to read is the primer! And one reads: The product of labour ceases to be a commodity, when society is socialist. Then Marx arrives at the juxtaposition of this "state of things" (of socialism) with commodity production, and shows, that one is the dialectical, utter, relentless and irreconcilable opposite of the other.
Society and homeland
Before we however get to the question of economic laws, we must remark a great deal to the Stalinist version of the socialist programme put forward by Engels in the "Anti-Dühring". This is even more important, as Stalin (in refutation of various Russian economists) refrains here from distortions and revisions of the classical texts and cites whole passages, while he in this subject utters a vehement "party condemnation" against any violation of orthodoxy.
Again and again Engels talks in his fundamental work about the seizure of the means of production by society, and first and foremost (we underline that a hundred times) about the seizure of the products – products, which today rule over the producer and even the consumer, so that from our point of view, capitalism can be described as a system, which not only negates the producers' disposal of the means of production, but rather the disposal of the products.
In the Muscovite paraphrase the "society" disappears, instead the talk is about the transfer of the means of production to the state, the nation and (when in the terminal element of the events the point is to inflame passions and invoke the ritual ovations) to the people, the socialist homeland!
If one gives the summary of the Stalinist narrative, not without denying it the merit of brutal honesty, the seizure of the means of production regarding land and the large equipment goods of agriculture proves to be a mere legal question, because any of its practical consequences is already contained within the statutes of Artel or the last Soviet constitution (which shall be revised). One must see, that those solemn statements about the rightful property have nothing to do with the economic disposal of agrarian products, which are divided between the kolkhozes and the single kolkohzniki. Factually true is the seizure through the state only in the large-scale industry, because the state only here disposes of products, and those it sells, as far as they are products of consumption, again. In the small and medium sized businesses and in the commercial enterprises however, there is no seizure of products, not even of the means of production, by the state. This also applies to the micro-equipment of the state-sponsored family and parcel economy. Despite the existence of huge factories and giant public construction projects, the self-proclaimed socialist and Soviet republic leads and controls not a lot; and not much was truly socialized and nationalized. The meaning of state property in relation to the entire economy is probably bigger in some bourgeois states.
Who then, which institution, which power, wields what was wrested from the private hand after the revolution? The people, the nation, the homeland? Never have Engels and Marx used those words. The transformation of private property into state property, "does not do away with the capitalistic nature of the productive forces", Engels remarks.
Only when society disposes of the products, only then it is clear, that it has overcome the class antagonisms and has become a classless society. But as long as there are classes, society will be organized by that "class solely", which must sublate all classes, and as a dialectical consequence itself. Here, it is tied on the masterful illustration of the theory of the state, which emerged already in 1847: "The proletariat seizes the state power and initially turns the means of production into state property". (Engels is citing Marx here). "But, in doing this, it abolishes itself as proletariat, abolishes all class distinction and class antagonisms, abolishes also the state as state.". Only then, and only on this royal road it is society, which arises as the acting factor and finally disposes of the productive forces, all products, as well as resources.
But the people, what the heck is that? A mishmash of different classes, an "integral" of expropriators and slaves, of political or business professionals and the starving, respectively the oppressed. The "people" we already left to the associations for freedom and democracy, freedom and progress, before 1848. With its notorious "majorities", the people is not the subject of economic planning, but merely an object of expropriation and fraud.
And the nation? As a necessity and perquisite for the emergence of capitalism it expresses the same mixture of social classes, not like "people" in the stale, legal and philosophic sense, but on a geographical, ethnographical and linguistic level. The "nation" as well doesn't seize anything: In famous passages Marx ridiculed the expressions "national wealth" and "national income" (which plays an important role in Stalin's analysis of Russia) and showed, that the nation enriches itself precisely when the worker is screwed.
If the bourgeois revolutions and the assertion of modern industry, which extruded feudalism in Europe and various other systems in the rest of the world, didn't carry out in the name of the bourgeoisie and capital, but precisely in the name of the people and nations, if this was in the Marxist conception a revolutionary and necessary transition, then we can deduce, how consistently the Muscovite coincide with that: the jettison of Marxist political economy and the renunciation of the proletarian, revolutionary and internationalist "category" society (a category that is used in classic texts), as well as an orientation towards the political categories immanent in bourgeois ideology and propaganda: people's democracy and national independence.
One does not need to be surprised then, when 26 years later the outrageous slogan is repeated, which we Marxists burned all bridges with: to "pick up" the banner of the bourgeoisie. The banner, which in the days of a Cromwell, Washington, Robespierre or Garibaldi was upheld and then thrown overboard; the revolution in its march however, will leave it in the mud – because their lies and myths of peoples, nations and homelands it counterposes with the socialist society.
Law and theory
In the Muscovite debate, the comparison between the laws of the Russian economy and the established laws of bourgeois economy by Marxism also came up. The namely text fights dialectically on two fronts. Some say: "If our economy was already socialist, we would not need to follow deterministically the tracks of certain economic processes, but could set the course differently: e.g. by the nationalization of the kolkhozes, the abolition of commodity exchange and monetary economy. If you show us, that this is impossible, then let's deduce from that, that we live in a society, whose economy is entirely capitalist. What does it help to fool ourselves?" In contrast to that, others want to shelve criteria that distinguish socialism in Marxism; Stalin bestirs to answer both. Those naïve researchers are of course no active "political" elements: otherwise it would have been easy to take them out by a purge. We are only dealing with "technicians" and experts of the apparatus of production, through whose mediation the central government learns, whether the huge machinery runs smoothly or has stalled; and when they were right, it would not help to silence them: the crisis would show either way. The difficulties, which are surfacing today, or put more accurately, come to light, are not of academic, critical or even "parliamentary" nature – to move beyond such stitches, no "great man" needs to come, a small political parvenu could handle that. The difficulties on the other hand are real, material, they lie within the things, not in the heads.
For answering of the objections, the central government has to insist on two things: first, that in a socialist society, people also have to obey to economic laws which cannot be suspended. Second, that those laws – in whatever way they will differ in the future full communism all and sundry from the laws of capitalism – in the socialist phase partly correspond to the laws of capitalist production and distribution, partly differ from them. And if the apparently insurmountable laws are settled then, one must not ignore them by the punishment of demise and one particularly must not contravene them. So far Stalin.
Then a special, albeit essential question arises: is the law of value part of those laws which continue to persist in the Russian economy? And if yes, isn't every mechanism that adheres to the law of value pure capitalism? Stalin replies to the first question: Yes, the law of value is in effect over here, though not everywhere. And to the second: No, not every economy in which the law of value operates is capitalist.
In the entire, solemnly presented theoretical "essay", the structure seems to be very fragmented and most notably it suits the book of the enemies of Marxism. Those, who employ "philosophical" weapons, will have an easy job, because the effects of the laws of nature and the effects of the economic laws on the human species are equated; while those, who prefer the weapon of "economy" and who have been waiting for a century for a revanche against Marx, can believe to have made it: "The laws of economic profitability and competition of social interests, like we understand them, you will never be able to evade."
One has to distinguish between theory, law and programme. In a certain passage the following sentence slips out of Stalin's mouth: "Marx, he, as we know, did not like [!] to digress from his investigation of the laws of capitalist production" [Stalin, p. 82].
We already showed at the last assembly in September 1952 in Milan, that Marx's aim didn't lie in the sterile description of the capitalist "status quo", but that from every row the demand and the programme of the destruction of capitalism stares one in the face. Our point wasn't only to destroy the old and stale opportunist legend, but to show the entire polemical and militant nature intrinsic to Marx's work. That's why Marx doesn't lose himself within the description of capitalism, or respective capitalisms, but instead he describes a capitalist system, an abstract, yes, non-existent, yes, typical capitalism, which nevertheless entirely corresponds to the glorifying theses of the bourgeois economists. Important is solely the clash of both positions (a clash of classes and parties, not a mundane dispute between intellectuals), of which one wants to prove the permanence, the eternity of capitalist machinery, while the other proves its coming death. In this light the revolutionary Marx cared to admit, that the clockwork, perfectly centred and by the freedom of competition, and the right of every individual, to produce and consume by the same rules, is well lubricated. In the actual history of capital it has never been like that, it is not like that, it never will be like that, meaning: the concrete reality would for our reasoning be much more convenient. Even better. If it, to make it short, would have worked out for capitalism, to persevere another century with idyllic ease, the Marxian reasoning would have suffered shipwreck. But it continues to shine with full force, as capitalism continues, but only by monopolization, suppression, dictatorship and massacre; and its economic development precisely follows the results of the analysis of the pure type: confirmation of our doctrine, refutation of the lackeys of capital.
In this sense, Marx has dedicated his whole life to the description of socialism, of communism; had it concerned only the description of capitalism, he wouldn't have given a damn about it.
Marx investigated and developed the "economic laws" of capitalism indeed, but the method, in which he did this, indicates the system of socialist characteristics entirely and in dialectical contradiction to them. So, does socialism adhere to those laws? Are they others? And if yes, which?
Just a moment! In the center of the Marxist work we put the programme, as a moment that follows a sober examination. "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it", "Theses on Feuerbach", and every educated dork adds: "youth" theses. But before the programme, and even before the depiction of the discovered laws, the doctrine as a whole, the system of "theories", has to be determined.
Some of those theories Marx has found ready-made at his adversaries, e.g. Ricardo's value theory, and the theory of surplus value as well. Those theories (we don't want to claim Stalin never knew of them) are something different from the by Marx thoroughly treated "law of value", respectively "law of surplus value", which we here, to not confuse the less experienced among us, rather would like to call "law of the exchange of equivalents" and "law of the relation between the rate of surplus value and the rate of profit."
It is important, to initially clarify the distinction between theory and law, a distinction, which also applies in science. Theory is the depiction of real processes and their relations, to ease the general understanding on a certain area – prediction and modification of those procedures only follow that. Law is the precise expression of a certain relation between multiple, particularly between two series of material circumstances: a relation, whose validity is verifiable at any point and which allows to calculate unknown proportions (no matter, you philosophers, if it is about future, part or present ones. For example I am, with a well discovered law, able to determine, how high the sea level was a thousand years ago; the only difference, that I cannot test, is, how much more you stink to high heaven today.). Theory is something universal, the law something strictly differentiated and particular. Theory is generally qualitative and serves the definition of certain magnitudes and essences. The law is quantitative and aims at their measurement.
An example from physics: in the history of optics, two theories of light have superseded each other with varying success. According to the particle theory, the transmission of light consists of the movement of miniscule "corpuscles", while the wave theory explains this by the oscillation of a permanent medium. Now the easiest law of optics, the law of reflection, says that the ray that hits a mirror forms an angle of incidence that is equal to the angle of reflection. A thousand times this law is confirmed: the skirt chaser precisely knows where he must stand, when he wants to observe the beautiful neighbour that is grooming herself in front of the mirror: in fact, the law is compatible with both theories. It were different appearances and laws that decided the choice.
Now, according to Stalin's text, the "law of the exchange of equivalents" is said to be compatible both with his "theory": "In socialist economy there are forms of commodity production", as well as with our theory that says: "If commodity production and mass production exist, then that's capitalism". The law is easily tested: One drives to Russia and one will see, that the exchange happens at determined prices with rubles, like on any arbitrary market: thus, the law of the exchange between equivalents prevails. To see now, which theory is the correct one, it's a bit more difficult. We, for our part, deduce: In Russia one finds oneself within the pure and real capitalism. As for Stalin, he fabricates a theory – precisely: theories are invented, laws discovered – and in defiance of father Marx says: certain economic appearances of socialism obey usually to the law of exchange (law of value).
Nature and history
Before we get to the point – which laws of capitalism Marx puts forward, which distinguish capitalism from socialism, respectively which are (perhaps) common to both -, we must point at the common equation of laws of nature with laws of society.
As students of Marx we must be militants and polemics; we must not solve such a question scholastically and insists on the theoretical analogy of both areas, perhaps with the "political" goal, to dodge the following argument: "Now, if the laws of society aren't as insurmountable as for example the law of gravity, then let's go: let's knock some over."
How could we forget, that the fight between the giant Marx and the paid gang in the universities of capital flared up on the point, that the laws of bourgeois economy are "no laws of nature", and we therefore not only want to bust this circle of hell, but can bust it. It is true, that Stalin's scripture reminds, that with Marx the laws of economy aren't "eternal", but instead correspond to certain social phases and epochs: slavery, feudalism, capitalism. But Stalin wants to point out that "certain laws" are common to all epochs and thus also assert themselves in socialism, which allegedly has an own "political economy". Stalin ridicules Yaroshenko and Bukharin, that said, that political economy is succeeded by a "technique of social organisation" [Stalin, p.65]. Harshly he replies to that, that this new discipline, which pseudo-Marxist and trembling before the Tsarist police economists would have attended to, is in reality an "economic policy" – and as such he allows it [Stalin, p.74].
Well, whether there will be an economic science in socialism, we will discuss once things have been put in their correct place again ; but where there is still an economic policy (like it is under the dictatorship of the proletariat), there are rivalling classes, and we are not yet in socialism. And we must ask like Lenin: Who has the power? And accordingly: Which direction does the economic development take, which – there we concur – takes place in stages? That will the laws of this development tell us.
As to the general question of laws in nature and history, it will be dealt with in our theoretical investigations there, where we reply to the expected attacks, which Marxism – which indeed has for 999 of 1000 writers established fixed abode in Moscow – will be subjected to: Attacks regarding Stalin's banalization of the theory of historical materialism (that's a theory, not a law) and regarding the questions of determinism and will, causality and ambition. The original content of the Marxian position (barely understood and very inconvenient for people, that pursue a policy of opportunist success) is always that of the direct class struggle and the historical antagonism between the classes, a struggle, which alternately resorts to the typewriter and the machine gun – provided one isn't able to talk of "feather and sword" anymore. We conceded to the bourgeoisie the achievement, in its war against the old classes, to have promoted the critical-scientific method and to have boldly applied it to the area of nature and then to that of society. It discovered and proclaimed theories, which today are ours: value theory (the value of a commodity is determined by the socially necessary labour time required for its production) and the surplus value theory (the value of every commodity contains advanced capital and surplus value, therefore a refund and profit). And triumphantly the bourgeoisie then proclaimed: "If you admit" (and science will admit it one century later), "that the same physical laws apply for the primordial nebula as for our planet today, then you must also admit, that the current social conditions will apply for all future societies, because we consensually banish both the intervention of god as well as pure thought from nature and society". Marxism by contrast delivers the scientific proof, that within the social cosmos, a cycle carries out, which will destroy the capitalist forms and laws, and that the future social cosmos will adhere to other laws. Since you don't mind to remodel and banalize this mighty work beyond ridiculousness because of domestic and foreign political purposes, finally do us the favour to omit the adjectives "Marxist", "socialist" and "communist", and instead use "economist", "populist", "progressive", and it fits like a glove.
Marx and the laws
Engels acknowledged Marx as the founder of historical materialism. Marx explained, his contribution in the application of this theory to the modern world consisted not of discovering class struggle, but to introduce the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Thus, theory leads to the class and party programme, to the organization of the working class for the insurrection and the seizure of power. In this great perspective, the investigation of the laws of capitalism lines up. Two real and fundamental laws are put down in "Capital". In the first volume, the general law of capitalist accumulation, also known as the law of increasing impoverishment (often dealt with by us): with the increasing concentration of capital the number of proletarians and the "reserve army" grows; we have explained multiple times already, that this not necessarily implies a fall in the level of consumption or real living standards of workers. In the second and third volume, the law of the reproduction of capital is developed (which is interrelated with the law of the tendency of the average rate of profit to fall, which we will get back to): a part of the product and thus of labour, must be put aside by the capitalist, to ensure the reproduction of depreciated machines, factories etc. (capital goods, for economists). If the capitalist increases the share destined as reserve asserts, he "invests", meaning he expands the stock of production facilities and means of production. Marx's laws on the allocation of the social product between immediate consumption- and investment goods prove, that as long as commodity exchange and wage system persist, the system faces crises and revolutions.
The first law certainly cannot be applied to the socialist society, because it organizes precisely for the reason that the social reserve constitutes an individual security for everyone, although this reserve neither belongs to anybody, nor how in precapitalistic times, is divided into x little parts. The second law, Stalin tells us, persists in socialism; and he assures, Marx had foreseen that. Marxism merely established (among others in the known passage in the "Critique of the Gotha Programme"), that in communism there will be a social deduction of individual labour as well, to keep the production facilities in good condition, to ensure the public services etc. This deduction would not be of expropriative character, precisely because it doesn't need to be mediated market-based and therefore the social reserve funds will establish a stable equilibrium – instead of serial tremors – namely between the products for consumption and the products which are included in the following cycle of production as means of production.
The crucial point in all that is the following: Stalin makes the valuable concession, that – because in the state industry the law of value is in effect – its businesses function based on "cost accounting and profitableness, production costs, prices, etc". [Stalin, p.20]. For "etc". we pose: profitable. Additionally, he explains that the future programme consists of an increase of the production of the means of production, meaning, that the "plans" of the Soviet government for the industrialization of the country not so much allow for goods of consumption for the population, but instead mainly consists of producing machines, agrarian tools, tractors, fertilizer etc. and to tackle giant public projects.
Plans aside: The capitalist states make plans, the proletarian dictatorship will make plans. But the first true socialist plan (which must be understood as an immediate despotic inroad, see the "Manifesto") will eventually be a plan to the increase of the costs of production, shortening of the work day, divestment of capital, quantitative and especially qualitative levelling of consumption (which is under capitalist anarchy to nine tenths an absurd waste of product), because only in this way it will be possible to cope with "business profitability" and "profitable prices". So, a plan of underproduction for the drastic reduction of the share of capital goods in production. The law of reproduction will run out of breath immediately, when the Marxian "department II" (production of means of consumption) eventually succeeds in knocking out "department I" (production of means of production). In any way, the capitalist "concert" has for too long punished our eardrums.
The means of consumption are for the workers, the means of production for the entrepreneurs. If the business master is the workers' state, it shall of course immediately be accepted, that the workers are interested to "invest" and to sweat from four to eight hours for department I! If now Yaroshenko abridges the critique of the staggering increase of the means of production to the formula "primacy of consumption instead of primacy of production", he becomes very mundane. No less shallow – to smuggle in state industrialism under socialist banner – are agitational formulas like: "He who doesn't work shall not eat" or "Abolition of the expropriation of humans through humans", as if it was the highest goal of the expropriated class to oversee its own expropriation.
Even if we only stick to the analysis of the domestic economy, the Russian economy in reality makes use of all laws of capitalism. How can it increase the production of goods not meant for consumption, without proletarianizing humans? Where shall it take the humans from? The course is that of primitive accumulation, and mostly the means are as horrible as those, that are depicted in "Capital": sometime it hits the kolkhozniki, who suddenly stand there without their cow; sometime the nomadic shepherds of Asia, which get snatched from their submersion into the view of the Ursa Major; or the feudal serfs in Mongolia, which are uprooted from their millenniums-old soil. The slogan is with certainty: more production goods, more workers, longer work time, higher work intensity – in other words: expanded accumulation and reproduction of capital in infernal pace.
Precisely that is the honour, that we, in defiance of a bunch of dorks, bestow upon the "great Stalin". Just in the dimension in which the process of the beginning accumulation of capital takes place and embraces the provinces of the giant China, the mysterious Tibet, the legendary Central Asia (out of which the European tribe emerged), will it be revolutionary and spin the wheel of history forward. But this is not a socialist, but a capitalist process. In this big part of the globe, the glorification of the development of productive forces is necessary. Stalin correctly says, that this is not his credit, but that of the economic laws, which enforces these "policies" upon him. His entire undertaking is made up of fraudulent labelling: this is as well a classical mean of the bearers of primitive accumulation!
In the west, however, the exuberant productive forces for a long time trigger flood waves, one after another, which prompts the states to suppress, to devour markets and regions, to prepare blood baths and wars. Here no plans to increase production help, instead only the plan to smash a gang of criminals can help here. Especially the plan, to trash their reeking flag of freedom and parliamentarism.
Socialism and Communism
We will conclude the economic argument with a synthesis of the stages of the future society – a topic, in which the whole of Stalin's "document" (we were looking for that word the entire time) is causing confusion. "France Press" accused Stalin of plagiarizing the scripture of Nikolai Bukharin about the economic laws of the transition period. Stalin however mentions the texts several times and even draws upon a critique authored by Lenin . Commissioned with the preparation of the programme of the Comintern (which stayed a draft), Bukharin deserves the great credit of emphasizing the commodity-negating postulate of the socialist revolution as an issue of primary importance. He also followed Lenin in the analysis of the transformation period "in Russia" and the assessment, that during the dictatorship of the proletariat, forms of commodity production were to be tolerated.
Everything becomes clear, if one bears in mind, that these investigations of Lenin and Bukharin didn't concern themselves with the two stages of communist society, of which Marx talks and which Lenin in a wonderful passage of "State and Revolution" outlines, but with a phase, which precedes both those stages.
The following scheme can serve as a summary of the certainly not easy topic of today's "dialogue."
Transition stage: The proletariat has conquered political power and renders all non-proletarian classes politically powerless, precisely because it cannot "get rid" of those classes in an instant. This means, the proletarian state controls an economy, in which partly, even if in decreasing amount, both a market-based distribution as well as forms of private disposal of products and means of production exist (these be fragmented or concentrated). The economy is not yet socialist, it's a transition economy.
Lower stage of communism, or if you want, socialism: society disposes already generally of products, which are allocated to members of society by quotas. This function doesn't require commodity exchange or money anymore – one cannot let Stalin's statement pass, according to which the simple exchange without money, but still based on the law of value, should bring us closer to communism: rather it is about a kind of regression to bartering. The allocation of products on the contrary follows from the center, without return of an equivalent. Example: If a malaria epidemic breaks out, in the affected region quinine is distributed for free, but solely one tubule per person.
In this phase, not only compulsory work is necessary, but also the recording of the performed labour time and its certificate – the famous "labour voucher", so much discussed in the last century. The peculiarity of this certificate is, that it cannot be kept in reserve, so that any try to accumulate it leads to the loss of the performed labour quantum without compensation. The law of value is buried.
Engels: "Hence, on the assumptions we made above, society will not assign values to products."
Higher stage of communism, which can be unhesitatingly can be called integral socialism: the productivity of labour is in such a way, that, apart from pathological cases, neither coercion nor rationing are necessary, to exclude the squandering of products and human energy. Free consumption for all. Example: The pharmacies are distributing quinine free and without constraints. And if one would take ten tubules to poison himself? He would obviously be just as stupid as the people, which confuse a rotten bourgeois society with socialism.
In which stage does Stalin find himself? In none of the three. He is in a transition period, not away from capitalism, but towards capitalism. It's almost honourable and certainly not self poisoning.