On Socialist Mode of Production

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On Socialist Mode of Production


This textbook of political economy was written by a team of economists consisting of Academician K. V. Ostrovityanov, Corresponding Member of the USSR Academy of Sciences D. T. Shepilov, Corresponding Member of the USSR Academy of Sciences L. A. Leontiev, Full Member of the All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences named after Lenin Laptev I D., Professor Kuzminov I. I., Doctor of Economic Sciences Gatovsky L. M., Academician Yudin P. F., Corresponding Member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR Pashkov A. I., Candidate of Economic Sciences Pereslegin V. I. In the selection and The processing of statistical materials included in the textbook was attended by Doctor of Economic Sciences V. N. Starovsky.

 In developing the draft textbook, many Soviet economists made valuable critical remarks and made a number of useful suggestions on the text. These comments and suggestions were taken into account by the authors in subsequent work on the textbook.

 The economic discussion organized by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in November 1951, organized by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, was of great importance for the work on the textbook. During this discussion, in which hundreds of Soviet economists took an active part, the draft textbook of political economy presented by the authors was subjected to a comprehensive critical analysis. The proposals developed as a result of the discussion on improving the draft textbook were an important source for improving the structure of the textbook and enriching its content.

 The final edition of the textbook was carried out by comrades: Ostrovityanov K.V., Shepilov D.T., Leontiev L.A., Laptev I.D., Kuzminov I.I., Gatovsky L.M.

 August 1954 Moscow


Political economy is one of the social sciences. [1]  It studies the laws of social production and distribution of material goods at various stages of the development of human society. 

The basis of society is material production. In order to live, people must have food, clothing, and other material goods. In order to have these goods, people must produce them, they must work. 

People produce material goods, that is, they fight against nature, not alone, but together, in groups, societies. Consequently, production is always and under all conditions social   production, and labor is the activity of social   man.

 The process of production of material goods involves the following points: 1) human labor, 2) the object of labor and 3) means of labor. 

Labor   is the purposeful activity of man, in the process of which he modifies and adapts the objects of nature to satisfy his needs. Labor is a natural necessity, an indispensable condition for the existence of people. Without labor, human life itself would be impossible. 

The object of labor   is everything to which human labor is directed. The objects of labor can be directly given by nature itself, for example, a tree that is cut in the forest, or an ore that is extracted from the bowels of the earth. Objects of labor that have previously been exposed to labor, such as ore in a metallurgical plant, cotton in a spinning mill, are called raw materials   or raw materials. 

The means of labor   are all those things with the help of which a person acts on the object of his labor and modifies it. First of all, the instruments of production belong to the means of labor, as well as land, industrial buildings, roads, canals, warehouses, etc. In the composition of the means of labor, the determining role belongs to the instruments of production.   These include a variety of tools that a person uses in his labor activity, starting with the crude stone tools of primitive people and ending with modern machines. The level of development of the instruments of production serves as a measure of society's power over. nature, a measure of the development of production. Economic epochs differ not in what is produced, but in how it is produced, by what means of production. 

The objects of labor and means of labor constitute the means of production.   The means of production in themselves, apart from labor power, are only a heap of dead things. In order for the labor process to begin, labor power must be combined with the instruments of production. 

Labor power   is a person's ability to work, the totality of a person's physical and spiritual forces, thanks to which he is able to produce material goods. Labor power is the active element of production, it sets the means of production in motion. With the development of the instruments of production, the ability of a person to work, his skills, skills, and production experience also develop. 

The instruments of production, with the help of which material goods are produced, the people who set these tools in motion and carry out the production of material goods thanks to certain production experience and skills for work, constitute the productive forces   of society. The working masses are the main productive force of human society at all stages of its development. 

Productive forces express the attitude of people towards the objects and forces of nature used to produce material goods. However, in production, people influence not only nature, but also each other. “They cannot produce without uniting in a certain way for joint activity and for the mutual exchange of their activity. In order to produce, people enter into certain connections and relations, and only through these social connections and relations does their relation to nature exist, does production take place . Certain connections and relations of people in the process of production of material goods constitute relations of production. 

The nature of production relations depends on who owns the means of production (land, forests, water, subsoil, raw materials, tools of production, production buildings, means of communication and communication, etc.) - in the ownership of individuals, social groups or classes using these means to exploit the working people, or owned by society, the purpose of which is to satisfy the material and cultural needs of the masses of the people, of society as a whole. The state of production relations shows how the means of production and, consequently, also the material goods produced by people are distributed among the members of society. Thus, the basis of production relations is a certain form of ownership of the means of production. 

The relations of production also determine the corresponding relations of distribution. Distribution   is the link between production and consumption. 

The products produced in society serve industrial or personal consumption. Production consumption   is the use of means of production to create wealth. Personal consumption   is the satisfaction of a person's needs for food, clothing, housing, etc. 

The distribution of produced articles of personal consumption depends on the distribution of the means of production. In a capitalist society, the means of production belong to the capitalists, which means that the products of labor also belong to the capitalists. The workers are deprived of the means of production and, in order not to die of hunger, they are forced to work for the capitalists, who appropriate the products of their labor. In a socialist society, the means of production are public property. In view of this, the products of labor belong to the working people themselves. 

In social formations where there is commodity production, the distribution of material goods is carried out through the exchange of goods. 

Production, distribution, exchange, and consumption constitute a unity in which the decisive role belongs to production. 

The totality of "relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real basis on which the legal and political superstructure rises and to which certain forms of social consciousness correspond" [3] . Having been born, the superstructure, in turn, exerts a reverse active influence on the basis, accelerating or delaying its development. 

Production has a technical and social side. The technical side of production is studied by natural and technical sciences: physics, chemistry, metallurgy, mechanical engineering, agronomy, and others. Political economy studies the social side of production, social production,   that is, economic   relations of people. “Political economy,” wrote V. I. Lenin, “does not deal with “production” at all, but with the social relations of people in production, with the social system of production” [4] . 

Political economy studies the relations of production in their interaction with the productive forces. The productive forces and production relations in their unity form the mode of production. 

The productive forces are the most mobile and revolutionary element of production. The development of production begins with changes in the productive forces - first of all with the change and development of the instruments of production, and then there are corresponding changes in the field of production relations. The production relations of people, developing depending on the development of the productive forces, in their turn actively influence the productive forces. 

The productive forces of society can develop without hindrance only if the relations of production correspond to the state of the productive forces. At a certain stage of their development, the productive forces outgrow the framework of the given production relations and come into conflict with them. 

As a result, the old production relations are sooner or later replaced by new production relations corresponding to the level of development achieved and the nature of the productive forces of society. As the economic basis of society changes, so does its superstructure. The material preconditions for the replacement of old production relations by new ones arise and develop in the depths of the old formation. The new relations of production open up scope for the development of the productive forces. 

Thus, the economic law of the development of society is the law of the obligatory correspondence   of production relations to the nature of the productive forces. 

In a society based on private property and the exploitation of man by man, the conflicts between the productive forces and the relations of production manifest themselves in the class struggle. Under these conditions, the old mode of production is replaced by a new one through social revolution. 

Political economy is a historical science. It deals with material production in its historically determined social form, with the economic laws inherent in the respective modes of production. Economic laws express the essence of economic phenomena and processes, the internal, causal relationship and dependence that exists between them. Each mode of production has its own basic economic law. The basic economic law determines the main aspects, the essence of a given mode of production. 

Political economy "explores, first of all, the specific laws of each individual stage of development of production and exchange, and only at the end of this study can it establish a few, quite general laws applicable to production and exchange in general" [5] . Consequently, various social formations in their development are determined not only by their specific economic laws, but also by those economic laws that are common to all formations, for example, the law of the mandatory correspondence of production relations to the nature of the productive forces. Consequently, social formations are not only separated from each other by specific economic laws inherent in a given mode of production, but are also connected with each other by certain economic laws common to all formations. 

The laws of economic development are objective laws. They reflect the processes of economic development that take place independently of the will of people. Economic laws arise and operate on the basis of certain economic conditions. People can learn these laws and use them in the public interest, but they cannot destroy or create economic laws. 

The use of economic laws in a class society always has a class background: the advanced class of each new era uses economic laws in the interests of the development of society, while the moribund classes resist this. 

Political economy studies the following main types of production relations known to history: primitive communal system, slave system, feudalism, capitalism, socialism.   The primitive communal system is a pre-class social system. The slave system, feudalism and capitalism are various forms of society based on the enslavement and exploitation of the working masses. Socialism is a social system free from the exploitation of man by man. 

Political economy investigates how development proceeds from the lower levels of social production to its higher levels, how social orders based on the exploitation of man by man emerge, develop, and are destroyed. It shows how the entire course of historical development prepares for the victory of the socialist mode of production. It studies, further, the economic laws of socialism, the laws of the emergence of socialist society and its further development along the path to the highest phase of socialism. 

Thus, political economy is the science of the development of social-production, that is, economic, relations between people. It elucidates the laws that govern the production and distribution of material wealth in human society at various stages of its development. 

The method of Marxist political economy is the method of dialectical materialism. Marxist-Leninist political economy is built on the application of the basic tenets of dialectical and historical materialism to the study of the economic structure of society. 

Political economy, unlike the natural sciences - physics, chemistry, etc. - cannot use experiments in the study of the economic structure of society, experiments carried out in artificially created laboratory conditions, eliminating those phenomena that make it difficult to consider the process in its purest form. “When analyzing economic forms,” Marx pointed out, “neither a microscope nor chemical reagents can be used. Both should be replaced by the power of abstraction” [6] . 

Each economic system is a contradictory and complex picture: it contains the remnants of the past and the germs of the future, it intertwines various economic forms. The task of scientific research is to reveal, behind the external appearance of economic phenomena, with the help of theoretical analysis, the underlying processes, the main features of the economy, expressing the essence of these production relations. 

The result of such a scientific analysis are economic categories,   that is, concepts that are a theoretical expression of the production relations of a given social formation, such as goods, money, capital, and others. 

Thus, Marx, in analyzing capitalist production relations, singles out, first of all, the simplest, most often repeated mass relation - the exchange of one commodity for another. He shows that in the commodity - this cell of the capitalist economy - the contradictions of capitalism are embodied in the embryo. Proceeding from the analysis of the commodity, Marx explains the origin of money, reveals the process of transformation of money into capital, the essence of capitalist exploitation. Marx shows how social development inevitably leads to the death of capitalism, to the victory of socialism. 

Marx's method consists in a gradual ascent from the simplest economic categories to more complex ones, which corresponds to the progressive development of society along an ascending line - from lower to higher levels. With this order of research into the categories of political economy, logical   research is combined with a historical   analysis of social development. 

Political economy does not set itself the task of studying the historical process of the development of society in all its concrete diversity. It gives the basic concepts of the fundamental features of each system of social economy. 

Lenin pointed out that political economy should be presented in the form of characteristics of successive periods of economic development. In accordance with this, in this course of political economy, the main categories of political economy - goods, money, capital, etc. - are considered in the historical sequence in which they arose at different stages of the development of human society. So, elementary concepts about goods, money are given even when characterizing pre-capitalist formations. In expanded form, these categories are set forth in the study of the developed capitalist economy.

As can be seen, political economy does not study any transcendental questions divorced from life, but the most real and topical questions affecting the vital interests of people, society, and classes. Whether the death of capitalism and the victory of the socialist economic system is inevitable, whether the interests of capitalism contradict the interests of society and the progressive development of mankind, whether the working class is the gravedigger of capitalism and the bearer of the ideas of liberating society from capitalism - all these and similar questions are solved by various economists in different ways, depending on the interests of which classes they reflect. This is precisely what explains why at present there no single political economy for all classes of society is, but there are several political economies: bourgeois   political economy, proletarian   political economy, and finally, the political economy of the intermediate   classes, petty-bourgeois political economy.

But it follows from this that those economists who assert that political economy is a neutral, non-partisan science, that political economy is independent of the class struggle in society and is not connected directly or indirectly with economics, are completely wrong. any political party. 

Is an objective, impartial, truth-free political economy possible at all? Certainly, it is possible. Such an objective political economy can only be the political economy of that class which is not interested in glossing over the contradictions and ulcers of capitalism, which is not interested in preserving the capitalist order, whose interests merge with the interests of the liberation of society from capitalist slavery, whose interests lie on the same line with the interests of the progressive development of mankind. This class is the worker class. Therefore, only a political economy based on the interests of the working class can be an objective and disinterested political economy. This political economy is precisely the political economy of Marxism-Leninism. 

Marxist political economy is the most important component of Marxist-Leninist theory. 

The great leaders and theoreticians of the working class, K. Marx, and F. Engels were the founders of proletarian political economy. In his brilliant work Capital, Marx revealed the laws of the emergence, development, and death of capitalism, gave an economic justification for the inevitability of the socialist revolution and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Marx and Engels elaborated in general terms the doctrine of the transitional period from capitalism to socialism and of the two phases of communist society. 

The economic doctrine of Marxism received further creative development in the writings of the founder of the Communist Party and the Soviet state, the ingenious successor of the cause of Marx and Engels, V. I. Lenin. Lenin enriched Marxist economic science with a generalization of the new experience of historical development, created the Marxist doctrine of imperialism, revealed the economic and political essence of imperialism, gave the starting points for the basic economic law of modern capitalism, developed the foundations of the doctrine of the general crisis of capitalism, created a new, complete theory of the socialist revolution, scientifically developed the basic problems of building socialism. 

The great colleague and disciple of Lenin, I. V. Stalin, put forward and developed a number of new provisions of political economy, relying on the main works of Marx, Engels, and Lenin, who created a truly scientific political economy. 

Marxist-Leninist economic theory is creatively developing in the decisions of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, in the works of Lenin's disciples and associates - the leaders of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, communist and workers' parties of other countries. 

Marxist-Leninist political economy is a powerful ideological weapon in the hands of the working class and all working people in their struggle for liberation from capitalist oppression. The vital force of the economic theory of Marxism-Leninism lies in the fact that it equips the working class, the working masses, with knowledge of the laws of the economic development of society, gives them clarity of perspective, confidence in the final victory of socialism. 

[1]  The name of the science "political economy" comes from the Greek words: "politeia" and "oikonomy". The word "politeia" means "social organization". The word "oikonomy" in turn consists of two words: "oikos" - house, household, and "nomos" - law. The name of the science "political economy" appeared only at the beginning of the 17th century.

 [2]  K. Marx, Wage labor and capital, K. Marx, F. Engels, Selected works, vol. I, 1948, p. 63. 

 [3]  Marx, Preface to the Critique of Political Economy, K. Marx, F. Engels, Selected Works, vol. I, 1948, p. 322. 

 [4]  V. I. Lenin, Development of capitalism in Russia, Works, vol. 3, pp. 40 – 41. 

[5]  F. Engels, Anti-Dühring, 1953, p. 138. 

[6]  K. Marx, Capital, vol. I, 1953, p. 4.