of its concept and the actual economic system of British capitalism, for example. This "gap" constitutes what Althusser calls a "real residue", an "impurity" or, as he also says, what one may "provisionally call a survival" in the midst of the capitalist mode of production which is dominant in Great Britain.
This fifth proposition is very directly concerned with our subject of study.
"This alleged 'impurity' is an object belonging to the sphere of the theory of modes of production: in particular, the theory of the transition from one mode of production to another, which merges with the theory of the process whereby a certain mode of production is formed. . . ."
I should now like to offer some observations concerning the content of the fourth and fifth of these propositions:
(1) While it seems to me correct to say that the alleged "impurities", "survivals", etc., form an object belonging to the sphere of the theory of modes of production, I do not think that they can be the specific object of the theory of the transition from one mode of production to another. In fact, these "impurities" are always present in reality. They therefore cannot be considered as the peculiarity of a stage of transition, or otherwise we should have to say that the real economic world is always made up of economies in
transition, and consequently the concept of "economy of transition" would be deprived of any specific meaning.
If we wish to give the term "economy of transition" a specific meaning -- and this seems to me to be essential -- we must ask ourselves what these "residues" are that we find so difficult to describe, since we refer to them by means of all sorts of metaphors, like "impurities", "survivals", and so on, which is a sign that there is as yet no scientific concept with which to think these objects. Above all, we must, in particular, ask ourselves the following question: is it not rather a specific form of coexistence, or simultaneous presence and interaction of several modes of production, that characterises an economy of transition? And this leads to another question: do not these specific forms of coexistence and interaction of several modes of production constitute specific modes of production?
It is not necessary to work out forthwith the scientific concepts demanded by this way of seeing the problem, but only to offer some considerations which may perhaps help us to find a road that will lead to the establishment of these concepts. This leads me to make a second observation.
(2) What we will for the moment call "survivals" (an expression which makes one think of some legacy from a past which history has not had the time to wipe out) represent, in fact, the products of the structures in which these alleged "impurities" are not "survivals", because they are not alien to the real structures in which they exist. On the contrary, they are the result of the totality of the relations which make up these structures, that is to say, of the particular level of development of the productive forces, of the unevennesses of development which characterise these forces, and of, the relations of production linked with these unevennesses of development. If we think of these "impurities" as being "survivals" this is because we have not grasped thoroughly enough the interconnexions of the structures that produce them.
When, indeed, we set about studying an actual economy -- independently of the very idea of transition -- we have to think of this economy as a complex structure which is "structured in dominance ". We mentally grasp a structure like this as a specific combination of several modes of production of which one is dominant. It is this dominant mode of production that permeates the entire system and modifies the conditions in which the subordinate modes of production function and develop.
In other words, by virtue of their very subordination, these "modes of production" are different from what they are in their "purity". Marx speaks in this connexion of the "etiolation" of these modes of production.
What is true, however, of the subordinate modes of production is reciprocally true of the dominant mode of production, the features of which are also to some extent modified by the mere fact of its "dominant" role.
Finally, each of these complex structures constitutes not a simple juxtaposition of modes of production, but a complex structure which is unique, endowed with its own structural causality; At the same time, this unique
structure is subject, in general, to the dominance of a specific structure which corresponds to that of a given mode of production; for example, the capitalist mode of production. This is why it is that while, in a complex structure of this type, like nineteenth-century France, say, we find numerous structural elements belonging to modes of production other than the dominant mode, we are nevertheless justified in saying that this structure corresponds to that of a capitalist economy.
If the simultaneous presence and interaction of several modes of production is a feature of any actual economic structure whatsoever, then it is, of course, a feature of an economy in transition; but an additional element enters in here, namely, the mode of dominance and the methods of eliminating the non-dominant structures. This is one of the problems we shall have to examine.
I should like to illustrate the observation I have just put forward by taking the example of the situation in the Soviet Union in 1918 and in 1921.
In his report on the tax in kind, dated 9 April, 1921, Lenin said:
"Take a close look at the actual economic relations in Russia. We find at least five different economic systems, or structures, which, from bottom to top, are: first, the patriarchal economy, when the peasant farms produce only for their own needs, or are in a nomadic or semi-nomadic state, and we happen to have any number of these; second, small commodity production, when goods are sold on the market; third, capitalist production, the emergence of capitalists, small private capital; fourth, state capitalism; and fifth, socialism."
Here we have a typical instance of a complex economic structure, but also an example of an economy in transition to socialism,