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Law of Value- Pricing in the national economy of the USSR
Price policy, as one of the areas of economic policy of the Communist Party and the Soviet state, is a reflection of the laws of economic development operating in socialist society.
V. I. Lenin and J. V. Stalin substantiated and comprehensively developed the position of Marxism regarding the objective nature of economic laws as applied to socialist production. They dealt a crushing blow to the subjectivist-idealist views on the nature of economic development in socialist society, which boil down to the negation of objective economic laws under socialism.
The objective nature of economic laws, however, does not mean that the actions of these laws are inevitable, carried out with a spontaneously implacable force that is not amenable to human influence. Society is not powerless in the face of economic laws. Knowing economic laws and relying on them, it can limit the scope of some laws, give room to other laws that make their way, learn to apply economic laws with full knowledge of the matter, use them in the interests of society and thus subjugate them, achieve dominance over them.
The conscious use of economic laws in the interests of socialist society finds its manifestation in the economic policy of the Communist Party and the Soviet state. Reflecting the requirements of the objective laws of economic development, the economic policy of the Communist Party and the Soviet state serves as a powerful factor in the use of these laws in the interests of socialist society, in the interests of building communism. In order to be successful, economic policy must first of all conform in everything to the requirements of the fundamental economic law of socialism. The Soviet price policy must also satisfy these requirements.
The essential features and requirements of the basic economic law of socialism, which determines the essence of socialist production, all the main aspects and all the main processes of its development, I. V. Stalin formulated as follows: ensuring maximum satisfaction of the constantly growing material and cultural needs of the whole society through the continuous growth and improvement of socialist production based on high technology.
In contrast to modern capitalist production, the purpose of which is to ensure maximum capitalist profit, socialist production is subordinated to the interests of society, the individual, and the satisfaction of his material and cultural needs. The radical opposition between the goals of social production under capitalism and socialism leads to a fundamental difference in the means by which these goals are realized. The goal of modern capitalist production is achieved by exploiting, ruining and impoverishing the majority of the population of a given country, by enslaving and systematically plundering the peoples of other countries, especially backward countries, and finally, by wars and the militarization of the national economy, used to ensure the highest profits. The goal of socialist production is achieved through the continuous growth and improvement of socialist production on the basis of higher technology. Instead of the development of production characteristic of capitalism, with interruptions from upswing to crisis and from crisis to upswing, socialist society achieves a continuous growth of production; instead of periodic interruptions in the development of technology, accompanied by the destruction of the productive forces of society under capitalism, there is the continuous improvement of production on the basis of higher technology under socialism.
Relying on the Marxist-Leninist theory of reproduction and developing it further in relation to the socialist economy, I. V. Stalin substantiated and formulated in his work “Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR” the economic law of the planned, proportional development of the national economy under socialism. The essence of this law lies in the fact that as a result of the socialization of the means of production under socialism, there arises the possibility and objective necessity of the planned development of the national economy, i.e., proportionality in the development of all parts of the national economy, constantly maintained by society. “Constant, consciously maintained proportionality, indeed, would mean regularity ...” 1 The transformation of this possibility and objective necessity into reality is carried out under socialism through state planning of the national economy, in the form of economic plans that reflect the requirements of the law of the planned development of the national economy, and the successful implementation of these plans.
One of the most important tasks of planning, which is the subject of the economic policy of the leading bodies of socialist society, is to ensure the proportional development of the national economy, to prevent and prevent the occurrence of disproportions and to eliminate them if they occur.
The operation of the law of planned, proportionate development of the national economy can produce the desired effect if they are based on the basic economic law of socialism. National economic planning "can achieve positive results only if two conditions are met:
a) if it correctly reflects the requirements of the law of the planned development of the national economy, b) if it is consistent in everything with the requirements of the basic economic law of socialism" 2 .
In a socialist society, the law of value and such economic categories as value, price, prime cost, profit, turnover tax, and interest on credit remain in force within certain limits.
Unlike the fundamental economic law of socialism and the law of the planned, proportional development of the national economy, the law of value does not belong to the economic laws that arose under socialism on the basis of the socialization of the means of production. The law of value is the law of commodity production. It arose along with commodity production under the slave system, and then served the feudal society and capitalism. The operation of the law of value under socialism is connected with the fact that commodity production and commodity circulation are preserved within certain limits in socialist society.
The existence of commodity production under socialism is a consequence of the fact that the development of socialist production under modern conditions takes place in two main forms—national and collective-farm. Under conditions of two forms of ownership, the exchange of products between industry and agriculture takes place, as a rule, only in the form of the sale and purchase of commodities. And where there are commodities, there are values and forms of value, and the law of value operates. However, since the sphere of commodity production and circulation in the USSR is significantly limited and covers mainly consumer products of industry and collective farms, the operation of the law of value is also limited to very narrow limits.
The operation of the law of value under socialism is directly limited only to the sphere of circulation of consumer goods, where it plays, within certain limits, the role of a regulator of exchange, a regulator of prices. However, the fact that consumer products necessary to cover the outlays of labor power are produced and sold under modern conditions as commodities subject to the operation of the law of value cannot but lead to the effect of the law of value on production as well. Since consumer products are not simply distributed, but are sold and bought for money, the share of individual workers in socialist society in the social consumption fund also appears in money form, in the form of money wages. The existence of money wages leads to the following: firstly, the real significance of the share of individual workers in a socialist society in the social consumption fund is most directly connected with the level of prices for consumer goods, the formation of which is exerted within certain limits by the law of value; secondly, by virtue of the necessity existing under socialism for a correspondence between the share of the individual worker in the social fund of consumption and his share in social labor, the expenditure of labor for the production of goods under socialism is also measured in monetary terms.
Thus, the law of value, which has completely lost its role as a regulator of production in the conditions of a socialist society, still retains a certain influence on production, since it requires cost (monetary) accounting of labor costs and monetary control over the activities of enterprises. Even in the sphere of production of means of production, which are outside the scope of the law of value as a price regulator, there remains a need to use separate forms of value, to control the activity of the enterprise with the ruble, to calculate the costs of production, to use cash settlements in relations between enterprises, in pricing.
Insofar as the economic law of value thus remains in effect in the Soviet economy, this is reflected in the economic policy of the leading organs of socialist society. There are two sides to this issue. It is known that the law of value has a historically transient character. It is a historical category associated with the existence of commodity production. Commodity production and commodity circulation, Marxism-Leninism teaches, will not exist under communism.
However, there is another side to the question of the effects of the law of value on production, which consists in the fact that under modern conditions the law of value can and must be successfully used in the interests of socialist society. The dialectic of the development of socialist society is that the preparation for a real transition from socialism to communism, the existence of which is incompatible with commodity production and commodity circulation, requires the fullest use of such economic instruments of commodity production as Soviet trade and money.
When using the law of value in the interests of socialist production, the economic policy of the leading organs of socialist society cannot fail to take into account the danger of spontaneous manifestations of the law of value, as the law of commodity production, and the need to curb them, insofar as they impede the fulfillment of the requirements of the law of planned, proportional development of the national economy.
Thus, in introducing collective-farm trade in grain and other agricultural products, the Communist Party and the Soviet government clearly distinguished two sides of the question of collective-farm trade. Collective-farm trade is necessary and useful in present-day conditions, inasmuch as it promotes the expansion of trade between town and country, provides the collective farms and collective farmers with an additional source of income, and thereby increases the interest of the collective farmers in strengthening the collective-farm system and the growth of social property. However, if collective-farm trade is carried out incorrectly and the management of collective farms is poor, it can also have a harmful effect, giving rise to speculative tendencies among some of the collective farmers, weakening the responsibility for fulfilling obligations to the state. In order to prevent this negative side of collective-farm trade from gaining the upper hand, the leadership of the collective farms must be strengthened.
Let's take one more example. Economic accounting is a method of managing enterprises on the basis of using the actions of the law of value in the interests of the development of socialist production. However, this method can be successfully used in the interests of socialism only if the practice of carrying out economic accounting meets the requirements of the law of the planned, proportional development of the national economy, if it is subordinated to the interests of fulfilling the state plan. Otherwise, spontaneous actions of the law of value are unleashed, leading to the substitution of national interests by the narrow departmental commercial interests of individual enterprises, departments and regions. Such departmental and parochial perversions, contrary to the interests of fulfilling the state plan, were pointed out in the report of the Central Committee to the 19th Party Congress.
Consequently, to use the law of value in the interests of a socialist society means to curb the manifestations of the actions of the law of value that contradict the requirements of the law of planned, proportional development of the national economy, on the one hand, and to give scope and proper direction to those actions of the law of value that can be used in the interests of continuous growth. and the improvement of socialist production, on the other.
In order to successfully use the law of value, you need to be familiar with the operation of the law of value, study them, and be able to take them into account in your calculations. Hence, the study of price formation in the USSR, the objective laws governing the formation of prices and their movement acquires great importance.
Price is the monetary form of the value of a commodity. It historically arose together with commodity production and commodity circulation. The existence of prices in socialist society is connected with the existence in it, within certain limits, of commodity production and commodity circulation, and thus also of the law of value.
Since price is a form of value, the formation of prices and the change in their level cannot be arbitrary; in the final analysis, it has as its objective basis a change in the socially necessary costs of production, expressed in monetary form.
At the same time, due to the socialization of the means of production, under the conditions of the operation of the basic economic law of socialism and the law of the planned, proportional development of the national economy, the setting of prices and the nature of their movement under socialism change radically.
First of all, on the basis of the socialist socialization of the means of production and the operation of the law of planned, proportional development of the national economy, the Soviet state was given the opportunity to systematically fix prices for a decisive part of the output of the national economy. In carrying out planned price fixing, the Soviet state proceeds from a price policy that provides for a systematic reduction in prices for the products of state-owned enterprises. This policy is a reflection of the essential requirements of the basic economic law of socialism.
The continuous growth and improvement of production on the basis of higher technology, inherent in socialism, lead to a continuous increase in the productive power of social labor and, on this basis, to a reduction in socially necessary outlays, the cost of production. Since socialist production is subordinated to the interests of satisfying the needs of society, the benefits that arise for society as a result of an increase in the productivity of social labor are realized in lower prices. In turn, the reduction in prices leads to an increase in the capacity of the domestic market, an increase in effective demand for products, and thus is an incentive for the growth of production.
Thus, the systematic reduction of prices is an objective law of socialist society. It assumes that the main means of production belong to the whole of society, and the goal of social production is the maximum satisfaction of the needs of the whole society.
On the contrary, a systematic reduction in prices is unthinkable under capitalism, since this would go against the basic economic law of capitalism. Capitalism knows the forced fall of prices—the forced, forcible depreciation of capital during crises; it knows dumping—an acute means of competitive struggle in the interests of conquering the market and subsequent monopoly domination on it—but it does not and cannot know price reduction as a consciously and steadily carried out economic activity. politics, because that would mean that capitalism ceases to be capitalism. Modern capitalism is especially characterized by systematic price gouging, the growth of high prices as one of the methods of robbing the peoples of "one's own" and foreign countries by the monopolies.
Prices in a socialist society represent a form of value that is used in the most diverse sectors of the socialist economy: in the economic circulation of the means of production within the state production sector (wholesale prices), in the economic circulation of agricultural raw materials between collective farms and state industry (purchasing prices), in circulation consumer goods (retail prices). Prices in the USSR are used to systematically increase the real wages of workers and employees and the incomes of the peasants on the basis of increasing the purchasing power of money, expanding the capacity of the domestic market and organizing consumer demand, expanding trade, strengthening additional stimuli for the growth of production and saving costs, and increasing socialist accumulation.
The manifold possibilities of using prices in the interests of socialist society require that our economic and planners be able to handle the instrument of prices with complete knowledge of the matter. Meanwhile, a poor knowledge of the operation of the law of value leads, in particular, to the fact that our planners and business executives often do not know how to correctly use such a form of value as prices, they do not know how to correctly understand the policy of prices.
The development of theoretical issues of pricing in the USSR, the generalization of the practice of price planning, the in-depth study of issues of Soviet price policy are of particular importance and significance in the current conditions of the development of the Soviet state, in the light of the directives of the 19th Congress of the Communist Party on increased attention to the mobilization of reserves lurking in the depths of the socialist economy, and the resolution of the September Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU in 1953 "On measures for the further development of agriculture in the USSR", providing for the all-round strengthening of economic incentives for the growth of agricultural production.
Without pretending to be a complete and comprehensive exposition of such an exceptionally complex problem as price formation in a socialist society, the present book aims, on the basis of a generalization of modern pricing practice in the USSR, to highlight some of the most important questions of the implementation of the Soviet price policy, as well as the methods of their planning.
1 V. I. Lenin, Soch., vol. 3, p. 545.
2 I. V. Stalin, Economic problems of socialism in the USSR, Gospolitizdat, 1952, p. 41.