October 17, 2020

Conversation I.V. Stalin on political economy. Recorded January 29, 1941

 A source: Historical archive 2012 №4 pp. 6-13

Archive: ARAN. F. 1705 (K.V. Ostrovityanov). Op. 1.D. 166.L. 1-13. Typescript.

On the subject of political economy

There are several definitions of the subject of political economy: the definition of Engels [1] , who considers political economy as the science of production, exchange and distribution; there is a definition of Marx [2] in his preparatory manuscripts for Capital; there is an indication of Lenin [3] , in which he approved the definition that was given by Bogdanov [4] in 1897. We have a lot of literary scholars, they will try to oppose one definition to another. We are very keen on quotes, and quotes are a sign of our ignorance. Therefore, we need to carefully consider the correct definition of the subject and, stopping at it, pave the way for it.

If you write that political economy is the science of historically developing patterns of social production, then people will not immediately grasp that we are talking about economics, about people's relations. It is better to say: “political economy is the science of the development of social production, that is, economic relations of people. It clarifies the laws governing the production and distribution of necessary consumer goods, both personal and industrial. " When I talk about distribution, I mean not the current idea of ​​distribution in the narrow sense of the word, i.e. distribution of personal items. We are talking about distribution in the sense that Engels writes about it in Anti-Dühring, where he considers distribution as a form of ownership of the means of production and consumer goods.

On the next page, insert an addendum, ending the second paragraph with the following words: “ie how the means of production are distributed among the members of society and, therefore, also other material goods necessary for the life of people.

You, of course, know about Marx's preparatory notes for all four volumes of Capital. There is a definition of the subject of political economy. When Marx talks about production, he also includes transport (regardless of whether we are talking about distant or close shipments, about the shipment of cotton from Turkestan, or about intra-factory transport). For Marx, all problems of distribution are included in the concept of production. How do those present think: will the definition that is outlined here be correct?

Remark : Undoubtedly, the planned changes bring a radical improvement.

Question : Is it correct to introduce the word "social, production" relations into the definition, isn't it superfluous here the word "social"? After all, production is social. Couldn't it be a tautology?

Answer : No, it is necessary to write with a hyphen "social-production", because there can be technical relations in production, here we should talk specifically about social-production relations.

Question : Isn't it more correct to say about consumption "personal and productive" instead of the words "personal and productive"?

After a short exchange of views, they wrote down "personal and business ."

If we accept the proposed formulation of the subject, then we need to draw a general conclusion that more attention should be paid to distribution issues in all formations, otherwise very little has been said about banks, stock exchanges, or the market. It won't do. In particular, the division of socialism also suffers because of this.

On the 5th page there are irregularities in the style. They need to be eliminated. It says "it is a historical science, studying the various modes of production and finding out the fundamental differences between each of them." You need to write in Russian, not "studying" and "finding out", but with the science "studying and clarifying".

About the law of value

I pass on to the section on socialism. Improved a bit, but screwed up a lot compared to what was earlier in this section.

Here it is written that the law of value has been overcome. Then it becomes unclear where the category of cost comes from, without which it is impossible to calculate, it is impossible to distribute according to labor, and prices cannot be set. The law of value has not yet been overcome. It is not true that we command prices, we want to command, but it does not work out. In order to dictate prices, one must have huge reserves, an abundance of goods, and only then will we be able to dictate our prices. And while there is an illegal market, a collective farm market, there are market prices. If there is no value, then there is nothing to measure income. Income is not measured by labor. When we begin to distribute according to needs, then another matter, but now the law of value has not been overcome. We want to deliberately use it. We have to deal with setting prices within the framework of the law. In 1940, the harvest was lower, in Latvia and Estonia, there was not enough bread, and the prices on the market jumped up strongly, we threw 200 thousand poods of bread there, and immediately the prices went down. But can we do the same for all goods, across the country? No, we can not dictate prices for all goods. This requires a lot, a lot of production. Much more than now. Until then, we cannot command prices, and the proceeds from the sale on the collective farm market go to the collective farmers. Of course, we cannot buy the means of production with these incomes, and these incomes are used to increase personal consumption. and the proceeds from the sale on the collective farm market go to the collective farmers. Of course, we cannot buy the means of production with these incomes, and these incomes are used to increase personal consumption. and the proceeds from the sale on the collective farm market go to the collective farmers. Of course, we cannot buy the means of production with these incomes, and these incomes are used to increase personal consumption.

A propaganda poster bursts into the textbook. It won't do. The economist must study the facts, but here suddenly: "Trotskyist-Bukharin traitors ...". Why is it to say that the court has established this and that? What is economic here? You need to throw out agitation. Political economy is serious business.

Remark : This was written a long time ago , when the process was taking place.

Answer : It doesn't matter when it was written, now a new edition is presented and it is in it. And here it is inappropriate. In science, we appeal to the mind. And here it’s not an appeal to the stomach, or something else. This spoils the case.

About planning

There are many terrible words about the economic plan. What is not written here: “The direct social character of labor in a socialist society. Overcoming the laws of value and the destruction of the anarchy of production. Planned economic management as a way of realizing the conformity of production relations of socialism to the nature of the productive forces. " Some kind of impeccable planned economy is depicted. But one must say simply: under capitalism on a national scale it is impossible to carry out production according to the plan, there is competition, there is private property, which divides, and in our country all enterprises are united by socialist property. Therefore, we can and must maintain a planned economy. Planned economy is not our desire, but inevitabilityotherwise everything will collapse. We have destroyed such bourgeois barometers as markets and stock exchanges, with the help of which the bourgeoisie corrects imbalances. We took it upon ourselves. A planned economy is as inevitable in our country as the consumption of grain is inevitable. And not because we are "good guys", we can do everything, but they do not, but because all our enterprises are united. And with them, unification is possible only in trusts, cartels, i.e. within a narrow framework, but they are not able to organize the national economy (Here it would be, by the way, to recall Lenin's criticism of Kautsky's theory [5]on super-imperialism). And industry, and agriculture, and transport, the capitalists cannot carry out according to plan. Under capitalism, the city must devour the village. Private property hinders them. Just say - we have a union, they have a separation. Here (p. 369) it is written: "planned management of the economy as a way of realizing the conformity of production relations of socialism to the character of the productive forces." All this nonsense, school chatter! (Marx and Engels spoke from afar, they had to talk about contradictions). But why the hell should we treat us to such abstractions? Simply put, their economy is divided, property is separating, socialist property is uniting in our country. You are at the helm and your power. Keep it simple.

The tasks of the planning center must be well defined. It is not only the proportions that he has to establish. Proportions are not the main thing, they are essential, but, nevertheless, derivative.

What are the main planning tasks?

The first task is to plan so as to ensure the independence of the socialist economy from the capitalist encirclement. This is necessarily the most important thing. This is a form of struggle against world capitalism. To ensure that we have metal and machinery in our hands, so as not to become an appendage to the capitalist economy - this is the basis of planning. This is the main thing. On this basis, the GOELRO plan and subsequent plans were drawn up.

How to organize planning? Their capital is spontaneously distributed among industries, depending on profits. If we were to develop industries depending on their profitability, we would have developed flour milling, production of toys (they are expensive and give a lot of profit), textiles, but we would not have a heavy industry. It requires large investments, it is unprofitable at first. A retreat from the development of heavy industry is what the Rykovites proposed. we have overturned the laws of capitalist economy, put them on their heads, or rather, on their feet. We started with the development of heavy industry and mechanical engineering. Without planning the economy, nothing will work.

How is it going with them? Some states are plundering others, colonies are plundered, and they receive bonded loans. It's different with us. The main thing in planning is that we have not become an appendage to the world economy

The second task of planning is to consolidate the undivided domination of the socialist economic system and close the sources and valves from which capitalism arises. Rykov [6] and Trotsky [7] at one time proposed to close as unprofitable leading enterprises (Putilovsky plant). To do this would mean to "close" socialism. The capital would go to the flour mill, to the production of toys, because it makes a profit. We could not follow this path.

The third planning challenge is to avoid imbalances. But since the economy is huge, breakthroughs can still take place. Therefore, you need to have large reserves, not only of funds, but also of labor.

It is necessary to give something new to the reader, not to repeat endlessly about the correlation of productive forces and production relations, this does not give anything. Our system should not be over-praised and not ascribed to it those achievements that do not exist. Value exists, and differential rent exists, but does not go there.

I thought about the category of profit - refuse or leave?

Remark : Perhaps it would be better to use the word “income”?

Molotov Income is different.

Remark: Maybe socialist accumulation?

Answer : When the profit has not yet been withdrawn, it is not accumulation. Profit comes from production.

Question : Is it necessary to have in a textbook that there is a surplus product in a socialist society? On this occasion, there were disagreements in the commission.

Molotov [8] : It is necessary to train the workers so that they know that they work for the whole society, and not only for their families.

Answer : You cannot build a new system without a surplus product. It is necessary for the worker to understand that under capitalism they are interested in what they should get, and under socialism he takes care of his society and this educates the worker. The income remains, it takes on a different character. There is a surplus product, but it is not spent on the exploiter, but for the growth of the people's well-being, for strengthening the defense, etc. The surplus product is transformed.

We have distribution according to work. We have skilled and unskilled labor. What is the work of an engineer? This is a multiplied simple work. Our income is distributed according to work. It cannot be that this distribution takes place without the law of value. We think that the entire economy is being carried out according to plan, but it does not always turn out like this. We also have a lot of spontaneous things. We consciously, and not spontaneously, calculate according to the law of value. For them, the law of value acts spontaneously, brings destruction, requires huge sacrifices. In our country, the nature of the law of value changes, acquires a different content, a different form. We deliberately, not spontaneously determine prices. Engels speaks of a jump. A risky formula, but it can be accepted if the leap from the realm of necessity into the realm of freedom is correctly understood. We must understand free will as a realized necessity, when a leap means a transition from a spontaneous inevitability to a realized necessity. They have the law of value spontaneously, brings great destruction. And we must direct so that there are fewer victims. The necessity arising from the operation of the law of value must be used deliberately.

Question : There were bewilderments in the commission, there was a discussion about whether there was any product in the Soviet economy. The author, contrary to the opinion of the majority of the commission, speaks everywhere not about the product, but about the product.

Answer : Since we have a monetary economy, that is, goods. All categories remained, but acquired a different character. Money does not serve as an instrument of exploitation in our country, but it acquires a different content from us.

Question : Until now, the law of value has been interpreted in our country as the law of a spontaneous market, which also determines the spontaneous distribution of labor.

Answer : This is wrong. The question cannot be narrowed down. Trotsky repeatedly reduced money to the fact that it was a means of calculating; he insisted on this both before the transition to NEP and after the transition to it. It is not right. We answered him: when a worker buys something, does he calculate with money, or does something else? Lenin repeatedly pointed out to the Politburo that such a formulation of the question is wrong, that the role of money cannot be reduced to a means of calculating.

Remark : The term “surplus product in socialist society is embarrassing.

Answer : On the contrary, we must accustom the worker to the fact that we need the surplus product, there will be more responsibility, the worker must understand that he is producing not only for himself and his family, but also in order to create reserves in the country in order to strengthen the defense etc.

Remark : Marx did not write about the surplus product in the Critique of the Gotha Program.

Answer : If you want to look for answers to everything from Marx, you will be lost. You have a laboratory like the USSR, which has existed for more than 20 years, and you think that Marx should have known more about socialism than you do. Didn't foresee, you see, Marx in the Critique of the Gotha Program! You need to work with your head, not string quotations. There are new facts, a new combination of forces, if you please work with your head.

About wages and workdays

A few words about wages, about workdays, about the income of the worker, peasant and the intelligentsia. The textbook does not take into account that people work not only because the Marxists are in power and the economy is planned, but also because they are interested, that we cling to interest. Workers are not idealists or ideal people. Some people think that it is possible to run the economy on the basis of equalization. There were such theories: collective wages, communes in production. This will not move production forward. Our workers are fulfilling and overfulfilling plans because we have piecework for workers, a bonus system for the leadership, bonuses for peasants who work better. A law was recently passed for Ukraine.

I will tell you two cases: in the coal industry a few years ago, the situation was such that people working on the surface received more than working underground. The engineer who was sitting in the office received one and a half times more than those who worked in the mine. The top, business executives want to bring up the best engineering cadres, so that they sit at their side. For things to go well, people need to be interested. When the wages were raised in underground work, then things went well. The issue of wages is the main issue.

Take another example: cotton production. 4 years since it has been continuously going uphill, and this is because the awarding procedure has been revised. The more they collect from a unit of area, the more they get. It turned out to be interested.

The law on bonuses to collective farmers in Ukraine is of exceptional importance. Get people interested and people will move forward, improve their qualifications, work better, and will clearly see that it gives them more. There was a time when intellectuals and skilled workers were considered outcasts. It was our stupidity, then there was no serious production setting.

They are talking about six conditions of Stalin. Just think, news. They say what the whole world knows, but we have forgotten. Craftsmanship for workers, bonuses for engineering and technical personnel, bonuses for collective farmers — these are the levers for the development of industry and agriculture. Use these levers, and there will be no limits to the growth of production, and without this nothing will come of it. Engels got it wrong here. At one time, we boasted that technicians and engineers would receive no more skilled workers. Engels did not understand a damn thing about production and confused us. This is as absurd as the opinion is different: as if the leaders must be changed every time. If you followed this path, everything would be lost. Want to jump straight into communism. Marx and Engels wrote with complete communism in mind. The transition from socialism to communism is terribly difficult. Socialism in our country has not yet become flesh and blood, we still need to establish socialism. Also, the distribution according to work has not been properly established.

We have dirt in the factories, but we want it straight into communism. Who will let you in? They drown in the trash, but want to go to communism. At one large plant two years ago, a chicken coop and geese were raised. Where does it go? Dirty people will not be allowed into communism. We must stop being a pig, and then talk about what would be allowed into communism. But Engels wanted straight into communism, got carried away.

Molotov : on page 333 it is written: "The decisive advantage of the artel is that it correctly combines the personal interests of the collective farmers with their public interests, successfully adapts the personal interests of the collective farmers to the public interests." This formulation of the question is a departure from the question. What is the correct combination of the personal interests of collective farmers with public interests, what does it mean "successfully adapts the personal interests of collective farmers to the public interests"? This is an empty phrase, there is no specific being here. It turns out something like that everything that exists is reasonable. However, this is far from the case. In principle, we have solved these issues correctly, but in practice there are a lot of wrong and unsuccessful ones. This must be explained. The public economy must be put in the first place.

It is also necessary to raise the question of piecework in wages. Once this issue was very complicated, the piece-rate system was not understood, the visiting workers' delegations, for example, the French syndicalists, raised questions about why we support piece-work and the bonus system, because under capitalism the workers are fighting against this. Now everyone understands that without progress and piecework there would be no Stakhanovists or shock workers. In principle, this question is clear, but in practice we have endless outrages. In 1940 we have to go back and repeat the decisions of 1933. The element pulls in the other direction. The top wants to have good engineers at their side. We have not grown to be as clean as we would like to be. You embellish our reality too much, and we are by no means as clean as we would like to be.

About fascism

A few more notes on fascist philosophy. They write that they have socialism. This should be disclosed economically. Here Hitler [9] says: “the state, the people! our capitalists receive only 8%, that's enough for them! " It is necessary to link the posing of this question with the coverage of the issue of competition and the anarchy of production, with the attempts of the capitalists to get rid of competition with the theory of ultra-imperialism. We must show that they are doomed. They propagandize the corporate system, as if it is above the working class and above the capitalist, and the state supposedly cares and thinks about the workers. They will even arrest individual capitalists there (though Thyssen [10]escaped). It must be said that in all this there is more demagogy, that this is the pressure of the bourgeois state on individual bourgeois who do not want to submit to state class discipline. All this must be said once in the heading on cartelization and unsuccessful planning attempts. Tell me about it the second time in the section - Socialism. You, gentlemen, fascists, who owns the means of production? Separate capitalists and groups of capitalists and therefore you cannot have real planning, there will be only stubs, because the farms are distributed among the groups of owners.

Question : Should I use the term fascists?

Answer : Call them what they call themselves - Italian fascists, German National Socialists.

I received Wells in this office [11] , he told me that he was not for the workers to be in power and not for the capitalists to be in power. He is in favor of engineers being in charge. He said that he was for Roosevelt [12] , whom he knew well and spoke of him, that he was an honest man, a man devoted to the working class [13] . The petty bourgeoisie have ideas about class reconciliation, they are widespread. These ideas acquired a special flavor among the fascists.

By the way, in the place where the utopians are spoken of. Here, too, it is necessary to speak critically about the idea of ​​class reconciliation. There is, of course, a difference between the way the question was raised by the utopians and the fascists, a difference in favor of the utopians, but this idea cannot be ignored. Owen [14] would be offended if [would] be put on a par with the Nazis, but Owen should be criticized.

The abusive style should be removed from the entire book. They do not convince them with swearing; rather, there will even be opposite results, the reader will be alarmed: since the author swears, it means that everything is not clean with him. "

It is necessary to write in such a way that it does not work out that everything is bad with them, but everything is good with us, not to paint everything.

Remark : It says here that the state sets a tan for almost everyone.

Answer : This is nonsense. In general, there is a lot of sophistication in the section on socialism. It should be easier to write.

Question : Is the title of the chapter correct - "Preparation of the capitalist mode of production." It turns out a shade, as if it was deliberately prepared.

Answer : This is a terminological question. You can use the word “prepared”. It is about the origin, the emergence and the creation of prerequisites.

By the way, there is one more question about the preparation of the socialist mode of production. It says here that socialism does not arise in the depths of capitalism. The question needs to be clarified that material prerequisites in the depths of capitalism arise, that objective and subjective prerequisites are created under capitalism. We must not forget that we emerged from capitalism.


[1] Engels Friedrich (1820-1895) - the founder of scientific communism

[2] Karl Marx (1818 -1883) - the founder of scientific communism.

[3] Lenin (Ulyanov) Vladimir Ilyich (1870-1924) - a leader of Russian and international: 1 about the labor movement, the founder of the Soviet state

[4] Bogdanov (Malinovsky) Alexander Alexandrovich (1873-1928) - doctor, philosopher, economist. political figure. Director of the Institute of Blood Transfusion (since 1926). See: Longa V.I. Retz. on the book: A. Bogdanov. A short course in economic sciences. M., 1897 // He. Groove. collection op. Ed. 5th. M., 1959.T. 4.S. 35-43.

[5] Karl Kautsky (1854-1938) - one of the leaders and theorists of German Social Democracy.

[6] Rykov Alexey Ivanovich (1881-1938) - political and statesman, People's Commissar of Internal Affairs of the RSFSR (1917), chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR (1924-1930) and the Council of People's Commissars of the RSFSR (1924-1929).

[7] Trotsky Lev Davydovich (1879-1940) - political and statesman, chairman of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers 'and Soldiers' Deputies (1917), People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs (1917-1918), for military affairs (1918-1925), Chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic ...

[8] Molotov (Scriabin) Vyacheslav Mikhailovich (1890-1986) - politician, chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR (1930-1941), 1st Deputy Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars (CM) of the USSR (1941-1957), People's Commissar (Minister) of Foreign Affairs of the USSR (1939-1949 and 1953-1956), honorary member of the USSR Academy of Sciences (1946-1959).

[9] Hitler (Schicklgruber) Adolf (1889-1945) - the head of the German fascist state (since 1933) and the National Socialist Party (since 1921).

[10] Thyssen Fritz (1873-1951) - one of the leading German industrialists

[11] Wells Herbert George (1866-1946) - English writer.

[12] Roosevelt Franklin Delano (1882-1945) - President of the United States (since 1933).

[13] This refers to the conversation that took place on July 23, 1934 (See: IV Stalin Works. M., 2007. T. 14. Edition. 2, pp. 12-29).

[14] Owen Robert (1771-1858) was an English utopian socialist.