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Leon Trotsky 19300715 Stalin as a Theoretician

Leon Trotsky: Stalin as a Theoretician

July 15, 1930

[Writing of Leon Trotsky, Vol. 2, 1930, New York 1975, p. 308-334]

The Peasant’s Balance Sheet

In his programmatic report to the conference of Marxist agronomists (December 27, 1929), Stalin spoke at length about the "Trotsky-Zinoviev Opposition" view "that, in fact, the October Revolution brought no benefits to the peasantry." It is probable that even to the respectful listeners, this invention seemed too crude. For the sake of clarity, however, we should quote these words more fully: 'T have in mind the theory which alleges that the October Revolution brought the peasantry fewer benefits than the February revolution, that, in fact, the October Revolution brought no benefits to the peasantry." The origin of this "theory" is attributed by Stalin to one of the Soviet statistical economists, Groman, a known former Menshevik, after which he adds: "But this theory was seized upon by the Trotsky-Zinoviev Opposition and used against the party." Groman's theory about the February and October revolutions is quite unknown to us. But Groman is of no account here; he is brought in merely to cover up the traces.

How could the February revolution bring the peasantry more than October? What did the February revolution give the peasant outside of the superficial and therefore absolutely uncertain liquidation of the monarchy? The bureaucratic apparatus remained intact. The land was not given to the peasant. What it did give the peasant was the continuation of the war and the certainty of a continued growth of inflation. Perhaps Stalin knows of some other gifts of the February revolution to the peasant? They are unknown to us. The reason why the February revolution had to give way to October is that it completely deceived the peasant.

The alleged theory of the Opposition on the advantages of the February revolution over October is connected by Stalin to the theory regarding "the so-called scissors." By this he completely betrays the source and aim of his chicanery. Stalin polemicizes, as I will soon show, against me. Only for convenience of his operation, for camouflaging his cruder distortions, he hides behind Groman and the anonymous "Trotsky-Zinoviev Opposition" in general.

The real essence of the question lies in the following. At the Twelfth Congress of the party (in the spring of 1923), I demonstrated for the first time the threatening gap between industrial and agricultural prices. In my report this phenomenon was called the "price scissors" for the first time. I warned that the continuing lag in industry would keep opening these scissors and that they might break the threads connecting the proletariat and the peasantry.

In February 1927, at the plenum of the Central Committee, while considering the question of the policy on prices, I attempted for the thousand and first time to prove that general phrases like "face to the village" merely avoided the essence of the problem, and that from the standpoint of the alliance with the peasant the problem could be solved fundamentally by correlating the prices of agricultural and industrial products. The trouble with the peasant is that it is difficult for him to see far ahead. But he sees very well what is under his feet, he distinctly remembers yesterday, and he can draw the balance of his exchange of products with the city, which, at any given moment, is the balance sheet of the revolution to him.

The expropriation of the landowners liberated the peasant from paying a sum amounting to from five to six hundred million rubles. This is a clear and irrefutable gain for the peasantry through the October — and not the February — Revolution.

But along with this tremendous plus, the peasant distinctly discerns the minus that this same October Revolution has brought him. This minus consists of an excessive rise in prices of industrial products as compared with those prevailing before the war. It is understood that if capitalism had maintained itself in Russia, the price scissors undoubtedly would exist — this is an international phenomenon. But in the first place, the peasant does not know this. And in the second, nowhere did the scissors open to the extent that they did in the Soviet Union. The great losses of the peasantry due to rising prices are of a temporary nature, reflecting the period of "primitive accumulation" of state industry. It is as though the proletarian state borrows from the peasantry in order to repay him a hundredfold later on.

But all this relates to the sphere of theoretical considerations and historical predictions. The thoughts of the peasant, however, are empirical and based on facts as they appear at the moment. "The October Revolution liberated me from paying half a billion rubles in land rents," reflects the peasant. "I am thankful to the Bolsheviks. But state industry takes much more away from me than the capitalists took. Here is where there is something wrong with the Communists." In other words, the peasant draws the balance sheet of the October Revolution by combining its two fundamental stages: the agrarian-democratic ("Bolshevik") and the industrial-socialist ("Communist"). According to the first, a distinct and incontestable plus; according to the second, so far still a distinct minus, and to date a minus considerably greater than the plus. The negative balance of the October Revolution, which is the basis of all the misunderstandings between the peasant and the Soviet power, is in turn most intimately bound up with the isolated position of the Soviet Union in the world economy.

Almost three years after the old disputes, Stalin, to his misfortune, returns to the question. Because he is fated to repeat what others have already said, and at the same time is anxious about his own "independence," he is compelled to look back apprehensively at the yesterday of the "Trotskyist Opposition" and — cover up the traces. When the "scissors" between the city and the village were first brought up, Stalin completely failed to understand the question; for five years (1923-28) he saw the danger in industry going too far ahead instead of lagging behind. In order to cover this up somehow, he mumbles something incoherent in his report about "bourgeois prejudices [!!!] regarding the so-called scissors." Why is this a prejudice? Wherein is it bourgeois? But Stalin is under no obligation to answer these questions, for there is nobody who dares to ask them.

If the revolution in February had given land to the peasantry, the October Revolution with its price scissors could not have maintained itself for two years. To put it more correctly: the October Revolution could not have taken place if the revolution in February had been capable of solving the basic agrarian-democratic problems by liquidating private ownership of land.

We have already referred to the fact that in the first years after the October Revolution the peasant obstinately tried to contrast the Communists to the Bolsheviks. The latter he approved of — precisely because they made a revolution on the land with a determination never before known. But the same peasant was dissatisfied with the Communists, who, having taken the factories and mills into their own hands, supplied commodities at high prices. In other words, the peasant wholeheartedly approved of the agrarian revolution of the Bolsheviks but manifested alarm, doubt, and sometimes even open hostility toward the first steps of the socialist revolution. Very soon, however, the peasant had to understand that Bolshevik and Communist were one and the same.

In February 1927, this question was raised by me at the plenum of the Central Committee in the following manner: The liquidation of the landowners gave us large credits with the peasants, political as well as economic. But these credits are not permanent and are not inexhaustible. The question is decided by the correlation of prices. Only the acceleration of industrialization on the one hand and the collectivization of peasant economy on the other can produce a more favorable correlation of prices for the countryside. Should the contrary be the case, the advantages of the agrarian revolution will be entirely concentrated in the hands of the kulak, while the scissors will hurt the peasant poor most painfully. The differentiation within the middle peasantry will be accelerated. There can be only one result: the crumbling of the dictatorship of the proletariat. "This year," I said, "only eight billion rubles' worth of commodities (in retail prices) will be released for the domestic market … the village will pay for its smaller half of the commodities about four billion rubles. Let us accept the retail industrial index as twice the prewar price figure, as Mikoyan has reported… . The balance (drawn by the peasant): the agrarian-democratic revolution brought me, aside from everything else, five hundred million rubles a year (the liquidation of rents and the lowering of taxes). The socialist revolution has more than covered this gain by a two-billion-ruble deficit. It is clear that the balance is reduced to a deficit of one and a half billion.'"

Nobody objected by as much as a word at this session, but Yakovlev, now people's commissar of agriculture though at that time only a clerk for special statistical assignments, was given the job of refuting my figures come what may. Yakovlev did the best he could. With all the legitimate and illegitimate corrections and qualifications, Yakovlev was compelled the following day to admit that the balance sheet of the October Revolution for the countryside on the whole still showed a minus. Let us give an actual quotation:

"The gain from a reduction of direct taxes compared with the prewar days is equal to approximately six hundred and thirty million rubles. … In the last year the peasantry lost around a billion rubles as a consequence of its purchase of manufactured commodities not according to the index of the peasant income but according to the retail index of these commodities. The unfavorable balance is equal to about four hundred million rubles."

It is clear that Yakovlev's figures essentially confirmed my estimate: the peasant enjoyed a big gain through the democratic revolution made by the Bolsheviks but so far suffers a loss that overtakes the gain. I arrived at a deficit of about a billion and a half; Yakovlev at less than half a billion. I still think that my figure, which made no claim to be exact, was closer to reality than Yakovlev's. The difference between the two figures is considerable But it does not change my basic conclusion. The enormous difficulties in the collection of grain were a confirmation of my estimate as the more disquieting one. It is really absurd to think that the grain strike of the upper layers of the countryside was caused by purely political motives, that is, by the hostility of the kulak toward the Soviet power. The kulak is incapable of such "idealism." If he did not put up grain for sale, it was because the exchange became disadvantageous as a result of the price scissors. That is why the kulak succeeded in bringing the middle peasant under his influence as well.

These estimates have a rough, that is, all-inclusive character. The component parts of the balance sheet can and should be separated in relation to the three basic sections of the peasantry: the kulaks, the middle peasants, and the poor peasants. However, in that period — the beginning of 1927 — the official statistics, inspired by Yakovlev, ignored or deliberately minimized the differentiation within the countryside, and the policy of Stalin-Rykov-Bukharin was directed toward protecting the "mighty" peasant and fighting against the "shiftless" poor peasant. In this way, the negative balance was especially onerous to the lower sections of the peasantry.

Nevertheless, the reader will ask, Where did Stalin get his idea of contrasting the February and October revolutions? It is a legitimate question. Stalin, who is absolutely incapable of theoretical, that is, of abstract thought, vaguely understood in his own fashion the contrast I had made between the agrarian-democratic and industrial-socialist revolutions. He simply decided that the democratic revolution meant the February revolution.

We must pause at this point, because this old traditional failure of Stalin and his colleagues to understand the mutual relations between the democratic and socialist revolutions, at the base of their whole struggle against the theory of the permanent revolution, has already succeeded in doing great damage, particularly in China and India, and remains a source of fatal errors to this day. Stalin greeted the February 1917 revolution essentially as a left democrat, not as a revolutionary proletarian internationalist. His whole conduct up to the time Lenin arrived demonstrated this. The February revolution was and, as we see, continues to be a "democratic" revolution par excellence, according to Stalin. He was in favor of supporting the first Provisional Government, which was headed by the national-liberal landowner Prince Lvov and had as its war minister the national-conservative manufacturer Guchkov and as its minister of foreign affairs the liberal Miliukov. Explaining the necessity of supporting the bourgeois-landowning Provisional Government at a party conference, March 29, 1917, Stalin declared: "The power has been divided between two organs, neither of which has complete mastery. The roles have been divided. The Soviet has actually taken the initiative in revolutionary transformations; the Soviet is the revolutionary leader of the rebellious people, the organ which builds up the Provisional Government. The Provisional Government has actually taken the role of consolidator of the conquests of the revolutionary people… . Insofar as the Provisional Government consolidates the advances of the revolution — to that extent we should support it."

The "February" bourgeois, landowning, and thoroughly counterrevolutionary government was for Stalin not a class enemy but a collaborator with whom a division of labor had to be established. The workers and peasants would make the "conquests,” the bourgeoisie would "consolidate" them. All of them together would make up the "democratic revolution." The formula of the Mensheviks was Stalin's formula. All this was said by Stalin a month after the February revolution, when the character of the Provisional Government should have been clear even to the blind, no longer on the basis of Marxist foresight but on the basis of political facts.

As the whole further course of events has demonstrated, Lenin in 1917 did not really convince Stalin but brushed him aside. The whole later struggle of Stalin against the permanent revolution was built upon a mechanical separation between the democratic revolution and the construction of socialism. Stalin has not yet understood that the October Revolution was first a democratic revolution, and that only because of this was it able to realize the dictatorship of the proletariat. The balance between the democratic and socialist conquests of the October Revolution that I drew was simply adapted by Stalin to his own conception. Then he asks the question: "Is it true that the October Revolution brought no benefits to the peasants?" After saying that thanks to the October Revolution "the peasants were liberated from the yoke of the landlords" (this was never heard of before, you see!), Stalin concludes: "How, after this, can it be asserted that the October Revolution brought no benefits to the peasants?"

How, after this, can it be asserted — we ask — that this "theoretician" has even a grain of theoretical consciousness?

The unfavorable balance of the October Revolution for the countryside is, of course, temporary and transitory. The principal significance of the October Revolution for the peasant lies in the fact that it created the preconditions for the socialist reconstruction of agriculture. But this is a matter of the future. In 1927, collectivization was still completely taboo. So far as "total" collectivization is concerned, nobody even thought of it. Stalin, however, includes it in his considerations. "Today, after the accelerated development of the collective farm movement" — our theoretician transplants into the past what lies ahead — "the peasants are able … to produce much more than formerly with the same expenditure of labor." And again: "How, after all this, [!] can it be asserted that the October Revolution brought no gains to the peasantry? Is it not clear that those who utter such fictions obviously slander the party and the Soviet power?" The reference to "fictions" and "slander" is quite in place here, as may be seen. Yes, there are some people who "obviously slander" chronology and common sense.

Stalin, as we see, makes his "fictions" more profound by depicting matters as if the Opposition not only exaggerated the February revolution at the expense of October, but even denied the capacity of the October Revolution to improve the conditions of the peasant in the future. For what fools, may we ask, is this intended? We beg the pardon of the honorable professor Pokrovsky!

Repeatedly reusing the problem of the economic scissors of the city and village since 1923, the Opposition pursued a quite definite aim, now incontestable by anyone: to compel the bureaucracy to understand that the struggle against the danger of disunity must be conducted not with sugary slogans like "face to the village," etc., but through a faster tempo of industrial development and an energetic collectivization of the peasant economy. In other words, the problem of the scissors, as well as the problem of the peasants' balance of the October Revolution, was raised by us not in order to "discredit" the October Revolution — what is the very "terminology" worth — but in order to compel the self-contented and conservative bureaucracy by the spur of the Opposition to utilize those immeasurable economic possibilities that the October Revolution opened up.

Instead of the official kulak-bureaucratic course of 1923-28, which had its expression in the day-to-day legislative and administrative work, in the new theory, and above all in the persecution of the Opposition, the latter proposed, from 1923 on, a course toward accelerated industrialization and, from 1927 on, after the first successes in industry, the mechanization and collectivization of agriculture.

Let us go back to the platform of the Opposition, which Stalin conceals but from which he snatches his bits of wisdom: "The growth of private proprietorship in the countryside must be offset by a more rapid development of collective farming. It is necessary systematically and from year to year to subsidize the efforts of the poor peasants to organize in collectives" [The Real Situation in Russia, p. 68].

"A much larger sum ought to be appropriated for the creation of state and collective farms. Maximum concessions must be accorded to the newly organized collective farms and other forms of collectivization. People deprived of electoral rights cannot be members of the collective estates. The whole work of the cooperatives ought to be penetrated with a sense of the problem of transforming small-scale production into large-scale collective production… . The work of land distribution must be carried on wholly at the expense of the state, and the first thing to be taken care of must be the collective farms and the farms of the poor, with a maximum protection of their interests" [ibid., p. 71].

If the bureaucracy had not vacillated under the pressure of the petty bourgeoisie but had executed the program of the Opposition beginning in 1923, not only the proletarian but also the peasant balance of the revolution would have an infinitely more favorable character.

The problem of the smychka is the problem of the mutual relations between the city and countryside. It is composed of two parts, or, more correctly, can be regarded from two angles: (a) the mutual relationship between industry and agriculture; (b) the mutual relationship between the proletariat and the peasantry. On the basis of the market, these relations, assuming the form of commodity exchange, find their expression in price fluctuations. The harmony between the prices of bread, cotton, beets, and so forth on the one hand, and cloth, kerosene, plows, and so forth on the other is the decisive index for evaluating the mutual relations between the city and the village, industry and agriculture, workers and peasants. The problem of the "scissors" of industrial and agricultural prices therefore remains, for the present period as well, the most important economic and social problem of the whole Soviet system. Now, how did the price scissors change between the last two congresses, that is, in the last two and a half years? Did they close, or, on the contrary, did they continue to open?

We look in vain for a reply to this central question in the ten-hour report of Stalin to the party congress. Presenting piles of departmental figures, making a bureaucratic reference book out of the principal report, Stalin did not even attempt to make one Marxist generalization from the isolated data, thoroughly undigested by him, which he got from the commissariats, secretariats, and other offices.

Are the scissors of industrial and agricultural prices closing? In other words, is the balance of the socialist revolution, as yet negative for the peasant, being reduced? In the market conditions — and we have not yet freed ourselves from them, and will not for a long time to come — the closing or the opening of the scissors is of decisive significance for an evaluation of the successes achieved and for checking up on the correctness or incorrectness of economic plans and methods. That there is not a word about this in Stalin's report is in itself an extremely alarming fact. Were the scissors closing, there would be plenty of specialists in Mikoyan's department who would, without difficulty, give this process statistical and graphic expression. Stalin would only have to demonstrate the diagram, that is, show the congress a scissors that would prove the blades were coming together. The whole economic section of the report would find its axis, but unfortunately the axis is not there. Stalin avoided the problem of the scissors.

The domestic scissors are not the final index. There are other, "higher" ones: the scissors of domestic and international prices. They measure the productivity of labor in the Soviet economy with the productivity of labor in the world capitalist market. We received from the past, in this field as well as in others, an enormous heritage of backwardness. In practice, the task for the next few years is not immediately to "overtake and outstrip" — we are unfortunately still very far from this! — but through planning to close the scissors between domestic and world prices, which can be accomplished only through systematically approximating the labor productivity in the USSR to the labor productivity in the advanced capitalist countries. This in turn requires not statistically maximum but economically favorable plans. The oftener the bureaucrats repeat the bold formula "to overtake and outstrip," the more stubbornly they ignore exact comparative coefficients of socialist and capitalist industry or, in other words, the problem of the scissors of domestic and world prices. And on this question also not a word is to be found in Stalin's report. The problem of the domestic scissors could .have been considered liquidated only under the conditions of the actual liquidation of the market; the problem of the foreign scissors only with the liquidation of world capitalism. Stalin, as we know, was preparing at the time of his agricultural report to send NEP "to the devil." But he changed his mind within the six months that have elapsed. As is always the case with him, his unaccomplished intention to liquidate NEP is attributed by him in his congress report to the "Trotskyists." The white and yellow threads sewing up this operation are so indiscreetly exposed that the report of this part of the speech does not dare to record the slightest applause.

What happened to Stalin with regard to the market and the NEP is what usually happens to empiricists. The radical change that took place in his own mind under the influence of external pressure, he took for a radical change in the whole situation. Once the bureaucracy decided to enter into a decisive conflict with the market and the kulak instead of passive adaptation to them, then they no longer existed in statistics and the economy. Empiricism is most frequently the precondition for subjectivism, and if it is bureaucratic empiricism, it inevitably becomes the precondition for periodic "turns." The art of the "general" leadership consists in this case of converting the turns into narrower turns and distributing them equally among the underlings, known as executors. If in the end the general turn is attributed to "Trotskyism," then the problem is settled. But this is beside the point. The essence of NEP, regardless of the radical change in the "essence" of Stalin's thoughts about it, lies as before in the determination by the market of the economic interrelations between the city and village. If NEP remains, then the scissors of agricultural and industrial prices remain the most important criteria of the whole economic policy.

However, half a year before the congress we heard Stalin call the theory of the scissors a "bourgeois prejudice." This is the simplest way out of the situation. If you tell a village quack that the temperature curve is one of the most important indications of the health or illness of an organism, he will hardly believe you. But if he grasps some sage words and, to make matters worse, learns to present his quackery as "proletarian medicine," he will most certainly say that a thermometer is a bourgeois prejudice. If this quack has power in his hands he will, to avoid a scandal, smash the thermometer over a rock or, what is still worse, over somebody's head.

In 1925 the differentiation within the Soviet peasantry was declared a prejudice of panic-mongers. Yakovlev was sent to the central statistical department, where he gathered up all the thermometers to destroy them. But, unfortunately, changes in temperature do not cease because there are no thermometers. As a result, the appearance of hidden organic processes take the healers and those being healed unawares. That is what happened during the grain strike of the kulak, who unexpectedly emerged as the leading figure in the countryside and compelled Stalin, on February 15, 1928 (see Pravda of that date), to make a turn of 180 degrees. The price thermometer is of no less significance than the thermometer of differentiation within the peasantry.

After the Twelfth Congress of the party, where the term "scissors" was first used and explained, everybody came to understand its significance. In the three years that followed, the scissors were invariably illustrated at the plenums of the Central Committee, at conferences and congresses, as precisely the basic curve of the economic temperature of the country. But afterward, they gradually began to disappear from sight, and finally, at the end of 1929, Stalin declared them to be — "a bourgeois prejudice." Because the thermometer was smashed in time, Stalin did not have to present the Sixteenth Congress of the party with the economic temperature curve.

Marxist theory is the weapon of thought serving to clarify what has been, what is becoming, what lies ahead, and to determine what is to be done. Stalin's theory serves the bureaucracy. It serves to justify zigzags after the events, to conceal yesterday's mistakes and consequently to prepare tomorrow's. The silence about the scissors occupies the central place in Stalin's report. This may appear paradoxical, because silence occupies neither space nor time. But it is nevertheless a fact: in the center of Stalin's report is a hole, consciously and premeditatedly bored.

Awaken, so that no harm shall come to the dictatorship through this hole!

Ground Rent — Stalin Deepens Marx and Engels

In the beginning of his struggle against the "general secretary," Bukharin declared in some connection that Stalin's chief ambition was to compel recognition of himself as a "theoretician." Bukharin knows Stalin well enough, on the one hand, and the ABC of communism, on the other, to understand the whole tragicomedy of this pretension. It was in the role of theoretician that Stalin spoke at the conference of Marxist agronomists. Among other things, ground rent did not come out unscathed.

Only recently (1925) Stalin was occupied with strengthening the peasant holdings for scores of years — that is, the actual and juridical liquidation of nationalization of the land. The people's commissar of agriculture of Georgia — not without Stalin's knowledge, of course — at that time introduced a legislative project for direct abolition of land nationalization. The Russian Commissariat of Agriculture was working in the same spirit. The Opposition sounded the alarm. In its platform it wrote: "The party ought to resist and crush all tendencies directed toward annulling or undermining the nationalization of the land — one of the foundation pillars of the dictatorship of the proletariat" [ibid., p. 70]. Just as in 1922 Stalin had to give up his assault on the monopoly of foreign trade, so in 1926 he had to give up his assault on the nationalization of the land, declaring that "he was misunderstood."

After the proclamation of the left course, Stalin not only became a defender of land nationalization but immediately accused the Opposition of not understanding the significance of the whole institution. Yesterday's negativism toward nationalization was suddenly transformed into a fetishism. Marx's theory of ground rent acquired a new administrative task: to justify Stalin's complete collectivization.

A brief reference to theory is needed here. In his unfinished analysis of ground rent, Marx divided it into absolute and differential. Since the same human labor applied to different pieces of land yields different results, the surplus yield of the more fertile piece will naturally be appropriated by the owner of that piece. This is differential rent. But no owner will make a free gift of even the poorest parcel of land to a tenant so long as there is a demand for it. In other words, from private ownership of land necessarily flows a certain minimum of ground rent, independent of the quality of the piece of land. This is what is called absolute rent. Thus the read amount of ground rent reduces itself theoretically to the sum of the absolute rent and the differential rent.

In accordance with this theory, liquidation of private ownership of land leads to the liquidation of absolute ground rent. Only that rent remains which is determined by the quality of the soil itself or, more correctly, by the application of human labor to pieces of land of varying quality. It is unnecessary to explain that differential rent is not some sort of fixed property of the pieces of land, but changes with the methods of cultivation. These brief reminders are needed in order to reveal the whole sorriness of Stalin's excursion into the theoretical realm of land nationalization.

Stalin begins by correcting and deepening Engels. This is not the first time. In 1926 Stalin explained to us that to Engels as well as to Marx the ABC law of the uneven development of capitalism was unknown, and precisely because of this they both rejected the theory of socialism in one country which, in opposition to them, was defended by Vollmar, the theoretical forefather of Stalin.

At first glance it may seem that Stalin is somewhat more guarded in approaching the question of land nationalization or, more precisely, the insufficient understanding of this problem by old man Engels. But in essence his approach is just as loose. He quotes, from Engels's work on the peasant question, the famous phrase that we will in no way violate the will of the small peasant; on the contrary, we will in every way help him "in order to facilitate his transition into associations," that is, to collective agriculture. "We will try to give him as much time as possible to reflect on it on his own plot of land." These excellent words, known to every literate Marxist, give a clear and simple formula for the relation of the proletarian dictatorship to the peasantry.

Confronted with the necessity of justifying complete collectivization on a frenzied scale, Stalin underlines the exceptional, even "at first sight exaggerated," circumspection of Engels with regard to leading the small peasants over onto the road of socialist agriculture. What guided Engels in his "exaggerated" circumspection? Stalin replies: "Obviously he proceeded from the existence of private ownership of land* from the fact that the peasant has 'his little plot of land' which he will find it hard to part with. Such is the peasantry in the West. Such is the peasantry in capitalist countries, where private ownership of the land exists. Naturally, great circumspection is needed there. Can it be said that such a situation exists in our country, .in the USSR? No, it cannot. It cannot be said because here we have no private ownership of land chaining the peasant to his individual farm."

Such are Stalin's reasonings. Can it be said that in these reasonings there is even a grain of sense? No, it cannot be said. Engels, it appears, had to be "circumspect" because in the bourgeois countries private ownership of land exists. But Stalin need not be because in the USSR we have established nationalization of the land. But did private ownership of land, along with the more archaic communal ownership, also exist in bourgeois Russia? We did not find nationalization of the land ready-made; we established it after the conquest of power. And Engels is speaking about the policy the proletarian party will adopt precisely after the conquest of power. What sense is there to Stalin's condescending explanation of Engels's circumspection? The old man, you see, was obliged to act in bourgeois countries where private ownership of land exists, while we hit on the idea of abolishing private ownership. But Engels recommends circumspection precisely after the conquest of power by the proletariat, consequently after the abolition of private ownership of the means of production.

By counterposing the Soviet peasant policy to Engels's advice, Stalin confuses the question in the most ridiculous manner. Engels promised to give the small peasant time to reflect, on his own plot of land, before he decides to enter the collective. In this transitional period of the peasant's "reflections,"the workers' state, according to Engels, must guard the small peasant against the usurers, the grain merchants, etc., that is, must limit the exploiting tendencies of the kulak. Soviet policy in relation to the main, that is, the non-exploiting, mass of the peasantry had precisely this dual character in spite of all its vacillations. The collectivization movement is today — in the thirteenth year after the conquest of power — actually only in its initial stages, despite all the statistical hubbub to the contrary. To the overwhelming mass of the peasants the dictatorship of the proletariat has thus given twelve years for reflection. Engels hardly had in mind such a long period, and such a long period will hardly be needed in the advanced countries of the West where, with the high development of industry, it will be incomparably easier for the proletariat to show the peasants in action all the advantages of collective agriculture. If it is not until twelve years after the proletariat's conquest of power that we in the Soviet Union are undertaking a broad movement toward collectivization — a movement as yet very primitive in content and very unstable — this can be explained only by our poverty and backwardness, despite the fact that the land has been nationalized, something that presumably did not occur to Engels and which presumably the Western proletariat will not be faced with after the conquest of power. This counterposing of Russia to the West, and of Stalin to Engels, reeks with the idealization of national backwardness.

But Stalin does not stop at this; he immediately supplements economic incoherence with theoretical. How are we able, he asks his unfortunate audience, "in our country, where the land is nationalized, to demonstrate so easily [!!] their [collectives'] superiority over the small peasant farms? That is the great revolutionary significance of the Soviet agrarian laws which abolished absolute rent … and carried out the nationalization of the land." And Stalin reproachfully and at the same time smugly asks, "Why then is this new [!?] argument not sufficiently utilized by our agrarian theoreticians in their struggle against all the various bourgeois theories?" And here Stalin makes reference — the Marxist agronomists are recommended not to exchange glances, not to blow their noses in confusion, and what is more, not to hide their heads under the table — to the third volume of Capital and to Marx's theory of ground rent. Oh grief and sorrow! To what heights this theoretician climbed before … splashing into the puddle with his "new argument."

According to Stalin, the Western peasant is tied to the land by nothing else than "absolute rent." And since we "abolished" that viper, by the same token there disappeared the enslaving "power of the land" over the peasant, so grippingly depicted by Gleb Uspensky in Russia and by Balzac and Zola in France.

First of all, let us establish that in the USSR absolute rent was not done away with but was state-ized, which is not one and the same thing. Newmark valued the national wealth of Russia in 1914 at 140 billion gold rubles, including in the first place the price of fill the land, that is, the capitalized rent of the whole country. If we should want to establish now the specific weight of the national wealth of the Soviet Union within the wealth of humanity, we would of course have to include the capitalized rent, absolute as well as differential.

All economic criteria, absolute rent included, reduce themselves to human labor. Under the conditions of a market economy, ground rent is determined by the quantity of products that the owner of the land can extract from the products of the labor applied to it. The owner of the land in the USSR is the state. By that, it is the bearer of the ground rent. As to the actual liquidation of absolute rent, we will be able to speak of that only after the socialization of the land all over the planet, that is, after the victory of the world revolution. But within national limits, if one may say so without insulting Stalin, not only socialism cannot be constructed, but even absolute rent cannot be done away with.

This interesting theoretical question has practical significance. Ground rent finds its expression on the world market in the price of agricultural products. Insofar as the Soviet government is an exporter of the latter — and with the intensification of agriculture grain exports will increase greatly — to that extent the Soviet state, armed with the monopoly of foreign trade, appears on the world market as owner of the land whose products it exports', thus in the price of these products the Soviet state realizes the ground rent concentrated in its hands. If the technique of our agriculture, as well as our foreign trade, were not inferior to that of the capitalist countries but on the same level, then precisely with us in the USSR absolute rent would appear in its clearest and most concentrated form. When in the future such a stage is reached, that moment will acquire the greatest significance for the planned direction of agriculture and export. If Stalin now brags of our ’’abolishing’’ absolute rent, instead of realizing it on the world market, then a temporary right to such bragging is given him by the present weakness of our agricultural export and the irrational character of our foreign trade, in which not only absolute ground rent is sunk without a trace but many other things as well. This side of the matter, which has no direct relation to the collectivization of peasant economy, nevertheless gives us one more example of that idealization of economic isolation and economic backwardness which is one of the basic features of our national-socialist philosopher.

Let us return to the question of collectivization. According to Stalin, the small Western peasant is tied to his parcel of land by the chain of absolute rent. Every peasant’s hen will laugh at his "new argument." Absolute rent is a purely capitalist category. Parceled peasant economy can partake of absolute rent only under episodic circumstances of an exceptionally favorable market conjuncture, as existed, for instance, at the beginning of the war. The economic dictatorship of finance capital over the atomized village is expressed on the market in unequal exchange. In general, the peasantry the world over does not escape the "scissors" regime. In the prices of grain and agricultural products in general, the overwhelming mass of small peasants does not realize a wage, let alone rent.

But if absolute rent, which Stalin so triumphantly "abolished," says absolutely nothing to the mind or heart of the small peasant, differential rent, which Stalin so generously spared, has a great significance precisely for the Western peasant. The tenant farmer hangs on to his parcel all the more strongly, the more he and his father spent strength and means to raise its fertility. This applies, by the way, not only to the West but also to the East, for example to China with its regions of intensive cultivation. Thus certain elements of the conservatism of small ownership exist as a consequence not of the abstract category of absolute rent, but of the material conditions of the more intensive cultivation in a parcelized economy. If the Russian peasants break their ties to a given plot of land with comparative ease, it is not at all because Stalin's "new argument" liberated them from absolute rent, but for the very reason for which, prior to the October Revolution, periodic redivisions of the land took place in Russia. Our Narodniks idealized these redivisions as such. But they were only possible because of our non-intensive economy, the three-field system, the miserable working of the soil — that is, once again, because of the backwardness idealized by Stalin.

Will it be more difficult for the victorious proletariat of the West than it is for us to eliminate the peasant conservatism that flows from the more intensive cultivation in a small-ownership economy? By no means. For in the West, because of the incomparably higher state of industry and culture in general, the proletarian state will be able far more easily to give the peasant in transition to collective labor an evident and genuine compensation for his loss of the "differential rent" on his parcel of land. There can be no doubt that twelve years after the conquest of power the collectivization of agriculture in Germany, Britain, or America will be immeasurably higher and firmer than ours today.

Is it not strange that his "new argument" in favor of complete collectivization was discovered by Stalin twelve years after nationalization had taken place? Why then did he in 1923-28, in spite of the existence of nationalization, so stubbornly bank upon the powerful individual commodity producer and not upon the collectives? It is clear: nationalization of the land is a necessary, but altogether insufficient, condition for socialist agriculture. From the narrow economic point of view, that is, the point of view Stalin takes on the question, nationalization of the land is precisely of third-rate significance, because the cost of equipment necessary for rational, large-scale economy exceeds by many times the absolute rent.

Needless to say, nationalization of the land is a highly important, an indispensable political and juridical precondition for the socialist transformation of agriculture. But the direct economic significance of nationalization at any given moment is determined by the action of factors of a material-productive character. This is revealed with adequate clarity in the question of the peasant's balance of the October Revolution. The state, as owner of the land, concentrated in its hands the right to ground rent. Does it realize this ground rent from the present market in the prices of grain, lumber, etc.? Unfortunately, not yet. Does it realize it from the peasant? With the multiplicity of economic accounts between the state and the peasant, it is very difficult to answer this question. It can be said — and this will by no means be a paradox — that the "scissors" of agricultural and industrial prices contain the ground rent in a concealed form. With the concentration of land, industry, and transport in the hands of the state, the question of ground rent has for the peasant a bookkeeping significance, so to speak, not an economic one. But bookkeeping is a technique that doesn't much concern the peasant. He draws a wholesale balance of his relations with the city and the state.

It would be more correct to approach the same question from another side. Thanks to the nationalization of the land, factories, and mills, the liquidation of the foreign debts, and the planned economy, the workers' state was able in a short time to reach high rates of industrial development. This process undoubtedly creates the most important premise for collectivization. This premise, however, is not a juridical but a material-productive one; it expresses itself in a definite number of plows, binders, combines, tractors, grain elevators, agronomists, etc., etc. It is precisely from these real entities that the collectivization plan should proceed. That is when the plan will become real. But to the real fruits of nationalization we cannot always add nationalization itself, like some sort of a reserve fund out of which all the excesses of the "complete" bureaucratic adventures can be covered. That would be the same as if someone, after depositing his capital in the bank, wanted to use both his capital and the interest on it at the same time.

Such is the conclusion in general. But the specific, individual conclusion may be formulated more simply: "Tomfool, Tomfool. It were better that you stayed in school" than to leave for distant theoretical excursions.

Formulas of Marx and Audacity of Ignorance

Between the first and third volumes of Capital there is a second. Our theoretician considers it his duty to engage in administrative abuse of the second volume too. Stalin must hastily conceal from criticism the present policy of forced collectivization. But since the necessary proofs are not to be found in the material conditions of the economy, he looks for them in authoritative books, and inevitably finds himself every time on the wrong page.

The advantages of large-scale economy over small-scale — agriculture included — are demonstrated by all of capitalist experience. The potential advantages of large-scale collective economy over atomized small economy were made clear even before Marx by the utopian socialists, and their arguments remain basically sound. In this sphere, the Utopians were great realists. Their utopia began only with the question of the historical road toward collectivization. Here the correct road was pointed out by Marx's theory of the class struggle as well as his critique of capitalist economy.

Capital gives an analysis and a synthesis of the processes of capitalist economy. The second volume examines the immanent mechanism of the growth of capitalist economy. The algebraic formulas of this volume demonstrate how from one and the same creative protoplasm — abstract human labor — axe crystallized the means of production, in the form of constant capital; wages, in the form of variable capital; and surplus value, which afterwards becomes a source for creating additional constant and variable capital. This in turn makes possible the acquisition of greater surplus value. Such is the spiral of expanded reproduction in its most general and abstract form.

In order to show how the different material elements of the economic process, commodities, find each other inside this unregulated whole, or, more precisely, how constant and variable capital accomplish the necessary balance in the different branches of industry during the general growth of production, Marx divides the process of expanded reproduction into two interdependent parts: on the one hand, enterprises producing the means of production, and on the other, enterprises producing articles of consumption. The enterprises of the first category have to supply machines, raw materials, and auxiliary materials to themselves as well as to the enterprises of the second category. In turn, the enterprises of the second category have to supply articles of consumption for their own needs as well as the needs of the enterprises of the first category. Marx uncovers the general mechanism of the accomplishment of this proportionality which constitutes the basis of the dynamic balance under capitalism.*

The question of agriculture in its interrelation with industry is therefore on an altogether different plane. Stalin evidently simply confused the production of articles of consumption with agriculture. With Marx, however, those capitalist agricultural enterprises (and only capitalist) which produce raw materials automatically fall into the first category; enterprises producing articles of consumption are in the second category. In both cases, they fall into their category along with industrial enterprises. Insofar as agricultural production has peculiarities that oppose it to industry as a whole, the examination of these peculiarities begins only in the third volume.

Expanded reproduction occurs, in reality, not only at the expense of the surplus value created by the workers in industry itself and in capitalist agriculture, but also by way of the influx of fresh means from external sources: from the precapitalist village, the backward countries, the colonies, etc. The acquisition of surplus value from the village and the colonies is possible, in turn, either in the form of unequal exchange, or of forced exactions (mainly taxation), or finally in the form of credits (savings banks, loans, etc.). Historically, all these forms of exploitation combine in different proportions and play as important a role as the extraction of surplus value in its "pure" form; the deepening of capitalist exploitation always goes hand in hand with its broadening. But the formulas of Marx that concern us very carefully dissect the living process of development, separating capitalist reproduction from all precapitalist elements and from the transitional forms which accompany and feed it and at whose expense it expands. Marx's formulas construct a chemically pure capitalism which never existed and does not exist anywhere now. Precisely because of this, they reveal the basic tendencies of every capitalism, but precisely of capitalism and only capitalism.

To anyone with an understanding of Capital it is obvious that neither in the first, second, nor third volume can an answer be found to the question of how, when, and at what tempo the proletarian dictatorship can carry through the collectivization of agriculture. None of these questions, nor scores of others as well, have been solved in any books, and by their very essence could not have been solved.** In truth, Stalin in no way differs from the merchant who would seek in Marx's simplest formula M-C-M (money-commodity-money) guidance as to what and when to buy and sell to make the maximum profit. Stalin simply confuses theoretical generalization with practical prescription — not to speak of the fact that Marx's theoretical generalization deals with an entirely different problem.

Why then did Stalin need to bring in the formulas of extended reproduction, which he obviously does not understand? Stalin's own explanations on this are so inimitable that we must quote them word for word: "Indeed, the Marxist theory of reproduction teaches that modern [?] society cannot develop without accumulating from year to year, and accumulation is impossible unless there is expanded reproduction from year to year. This is clear and comprehensible." Clearer it cannot be. But this is not a teaching of Marxist theory; it is the common property of bourgeois political economy, its quintessence. "Accumulation" as a condition for the development of "modern society" — this is precisely the great idea that vulgar political economy cleansed of the elements of the labor theory of value which had already been embodied in classical political economy. The theory that Stalin so bombastically proposes "to take from the treasury of Marxism" is a commonplace, uniting not only Adam Smith and Bastiat but also the latter with the American president, Hoover. "Modern society" — not capitalist but "modern" — is used in order to extend Marx's formulas also to "modern" socialist society. "This is clear and comprehensible." And Stalin continues: "Our large-scale, centralized, socialist industry is developing according to the Marxist theory of expanded reproduction [!]; for [!!] it is growing in volume from year to year, it has its accumulations and is advancing with giant strides."

Industry develops according to Marxist theory — immortal formula! In just the same way as oats grow dialectically according to Hegel. To a bureaucrat, theory is an administrative formula. But this is still not the heart of the matter. "The Marxist theory of reproduction" has to do with the capitalist mode of production. But Stalin is speaking of Soviet industry, which he considers socialist without reservations. Thus Stalin is saying that "socialist industry" develops according to the theory of capitalist reproduction. We see how incautiously Stalin slipped his hand into the "treasury of Marxism." If a theory of reproduction constructed on the laws of anarchic production covers two economic processes, one anarchic and one planned, then the planned economy, the socialist beginning, is reduced to zero. But even these are still only the blossoms — the berries are yet to come.

The finest gem drawn by Stalin from the treasury is the little word "for": socialist industry develops according to the theory of capitalist industry "for it is growing in volume from year to year, it has its accumulations and is advancing with giant strides." Poor theory! Unfortunate treasury! Wretched Marx! Does this mean that Marxist theory was created especially to prove the need for yearly advances and with giant strides at that? What then about the periods when capitalist industry develops "at a snail's pace"? In those cases, apparently, Marx's theory is abrogated. But all capitalist production develops in cycles of boom and crisis; this means that it not only advances with giant strides, but it also marks time and retreats. It seems that Marx's concept is useless in regard to capitalist development, for the understanding of which it was created, but that it gives full answer on the nature of the "giant strides” of socialist industry. Aren't these miracles? Not limiting himself to enlightening Eh gels on land nationalization, but at the same time busying himself with a basic correction of Marx, Stalin at any rate marches … with giant strides. And the formulas of Capital are crushed like nuts under his heavy feet.

But why did Stalin need all this? the puzzled reader will ask. Alas! we cannot jump over stages, especially when we can hardly keep up with our theoretician. A little patience and all will be revealed.

Immediately after the passage just dealt with, Stalin continues: "But our large-scale industry does not constitute the whole of the national economy. On the contrary, small peasant economy still predominates in it. Can we say that our small peasant economy is developing according to the principle [!] of expanded reproduction? No, we cannot … Our small peasant economy … is seldom able to achieve even simple reproduction. Can we advance our socialized industry at an accelerated rate while we have such an agricultural basis as small peasant economy? … No, we cannot." Later comes the conclusion: complete collectivization is necessary.

This passage is even better than the preceding one. From the somnolent banality of exposition every now and then firecrackers of audacious ignorance explode. Does the agricultural economy, that is, simple commodity economy, develop according to the laws of capitalist economy? No, our theoretician replies in terror. It is clear: the village does not live according to Marx. This matter must be corrected. Stalin attempts, in his report, to reject the petty-bourgeois theories on the stability of peasant economy. Meanwhile, becoming entangled in the net of Marxist formulas, he gives these theories a most generalized expression. In reality, the theory of expanded reproduction, according to Marx, embraces capitalist economy as a whole — not only industry but agriculture as well — only in its pure form, that is, without precapitalist remnants. But Stalin, leaving aside for some reason artisans and handicrafts, poses the question: "Can we say that our small peasant economy is developing according to the principle [!] of expanded reproduction?" "No," he replies, "we cannot."

In other words Stalin repeats, in a most generalized form, the assertions of the bourgeois economists that agriculture does not develop according to the "principle" of the Marxist theory of capitalist production. Wouldn't it be better, after this, to keep still? After all, the Marxist agronomists kept still listening to his shameful abuse of the teachings of Marx. Yet the softest of answers should have sounded thus: Get off the platform immediately, and do not dare to treat with problems you know nothing about!

But we shall not follow the example of the Marxist agronomists and keep still. Ignorance armed with power is just as dangerous as insanity armed with a razor.

The formulas of the second volume of Marx do not represent guiding "principles" of socialist construction, but objective generalization of capitalist processes. These formulas, abstracted from the peculiarities of agriculture, not only do not contradict its development but fully embrace it as capitalist agriculture.

The only thing that can be said about agriculture in the framework of the formulas of the second volume is that these formulas presuppose the existence of a quantity of agricultural raw materials and agricultural products for consumption, sufficient to insure expanded reproduction. But what should be the correlation between agriculture and industry: as in Britain or as in America? Both these types conform equally to Marxist formulas. Britain imports articles for consumption and raw materials. America exports them. There is no contradiction here with the formulas of expanded reproduction, which are in no way limited by national boundaries and are not adapted either to national capitalism or, even less, to socialism in one country.

If people should arrive at synthetic foods and synthetic forms of raw materials, agriculture would be completely negated, replaced by new branches of the chemical industry. What then would become of the formulas of expanded reproduction? They would retain all their validity to the extent that capitalist forms of production and distribution remained.

The agricultural economy of bourgeois Russia, with the tremendous predominance of the peasantry, not only met the needs of growing industry, but also created the possibility of large exports. These processes were accompanied by the strengthening of the kulak top and the weakening of the peasant bottom, their growing proletarianization. In this manner the agricultural economy on capitalist foundations developed, despite all its peculiarities, within the framework of the very formulas with which Marx embraces capitalist economy as a whole — and only capitalist economy.

Stalin wishes to arrive at the conclusion that it is impossible to base socialist construction "on two different foundations: on the most large-scale and concentrated socialist industry, and the most disunited and backward small-commodity peasant economy." In reality he proves the exact opposite. If the formulas of expanded reproduction are applicable equally to capitalist and to socialist economy — to "modern society" in general — then it is absolutely incomprehensible why it is impossible to continue further development of the economy on the very same foundations of the contradictions between city and village, upon which capitalism reached an immeasurably higher level. In America the gigantic industrial trusts are developing even today side by side with an agricultural economy based on farmers. The farm economy created the basis of American industry. Our bureaucrats, by the way, with Stalin at their head, oriented themselves openly until only yesterday on American agriculture as the type, with the big farmer at the bottom, centralized industry at the top.

The ideal equivalent of exchange is the basic premise of the abstract formulas of the second volume. But the planned economy of the transition period, even though based upon the law of value, violates it at every step and fixes relationships of unequal exchange between different branches of the economy, and in the first instance between industry and agriculture. The decisive lever of compulsory accumulation and planned distribution is the government budget. With further inevitable development, its role will necessarily grow. Credit financing regulates the interrelations between the compulsory accumulation of the budget and the market processes, insofar as the latter remain in force. Neither budgetary financing nor planned or semi-planned credit financing, which insure the expansion of reproduction in the USSR, can in any way be embraced within the formulas of the second volume. For the whole force of these formulas lies in the fact that they disregard budgets and plans and tariffs and, in general, all forms of governmentally planned intervention, and that they bring out the necessary lawfulness in the play of the blind forces of the market, disciplined by the law of value. Were the internal Soviet market "freed" and the monopoly of foreign trade abolished, then the exchange between city and village would become incomparably more equal and accumulation in the village — kulak or farmer-capitalist accumulation, of course — would take its course, and it would soon become evident that Marx's formulas apply also to agriculture. On that road, Russia would in a short time be transformed into a colony upon which the industrial development of other countries would lean.

In order to motivate complete collectivization, the school of Stalin (there is such a thing) has circulated crude comparisons between the rates of development in industry and in agriculture. As usual this operation is performed most grossly by Molotov. At the Moscow district conference of the party in February 1929, Molotov said: "In recent years agriculture has lagged noticeably behind industry in the rate of development… . During the last three years industrial production increased in value by more than 50 percent and agricultural production by only some 7 percent."

To counterpose these rates of development is to show illiteracy in economics. What is called peasant economy includes in essence all branches of the economy. The development of industry has always, and in all countries, taken place at the cost of a reduced specific weight of the agricultural economy. It is sufficient to recall that metallurgical production in the United States is almost equal to the production of the farm economy, while in the USSR it is one-eighteenth of agricultural production. This shows that despite the high rates of development of the last years our industry has not yet emerged from infancy. To overcome the contradictions between city and village created by bourgeois development, Soviet industry must first surpass the village to a far higher degree than bourgeois Russia ever did.

The present rupture between agriculture and the state industry came about not because industry advanced too far ahead of the agricultural economy — the vanguard position of industry is a world historical fact and a necessary condition for progress — but because our industry is too weak, that is, has advanced too little to be able to raise agriculture to the necessary level. The aim, of course, is to eliminate the contradictions between city and village. But the roads and methods of this elimination have nothing in common with equalizing the rates of growth of agriculture and industry. The mechanization of agriculture and the industrialization of a whole number of its branches will be accompanied, on the contrary, by a reduction in the specific weight of agriculture as such. The rate at which we can accomplish this mechanization is determined by the productive power of our industry. What is decisive for collectivization is not the fact that the percentage figures for metallurgy rose by a few score in the last years, but the fact that the metal available per capita is negligible. The growth of collectivization would be equivalent to the growth of the agricultural economy itself only insofar as the former is based on a technical revolution in agricultural production. But the tempo of such a revolution is limited by the present specific weight of industry. The tempo of collectivization has to be coordinated with the material resources — not with the abstract statistical tempos — of industry.

In the interest of theoretical clarity it should be added to what we have already said that the elimination of contradictions between city and village, that is, the raising of agricultural production to a scientific-industrial level, will mean not the triumph of Marx's formulas in agriculture, as Stalin imagines, but, on the contrary, the end of their triumph also in industry; for socialist expanded reproduction will take place not at all according to the formulas of Capital, the mainspring of which is the pursuit of profits. But all this is too complicated for Stalin and Molotov.

In conclusion, let us repeat that collectivization is a practical task of eliminating capitalism, not a theoretical task of its expansion. That is why Marx's formulas do not apply here in any way. The practical possibilities of collectivization are determined by the productive-technical resources available for large-scale agriculture, and by the degree of the peasantry's readiness to pass over from individual to collective economy. In the final analysis, this subjective readiness is determined by the very same material-productive factor: the peasant can be attracted to socialism only by the advantages of collective economy based on advanced technique. But instead of a tractor, Stalin wishes to present the peasant with the formulas of the second volume. But the peasant is honest, and he does not like to argue over what he does not understand.

* The formulas of the second volume ignore the industrial and commercial crises that are part of the mechanism of the capitalist balance. These formulas aim to show how, with or without crises and despite crises, the balance is nevertheless attained.

** In the first years after the October Revolution it was necessary for us more than once to take issue with naive efforts to seek in Marx the answers to questions he could not even have posed. Lenin unfailingly supported me in this. I cite two examples which by chance were recorded in stenograms.

"We did not doubt," said Lenin, "that we should have to experiment, as Comrade Trotsky expressed it. We undertook a task which nobody in the world has ever attempted on so large a scale"

And some months later he said: "Comrade Trotsky was quite right in saying that this is not written in any of the books we might consider our guides, it does not follow from any socialist world outlook, it has not been determined by anybody's experience but will have to be determined by our own experience"