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The myth of «socialist planning» in Russia
The socialist plan
Atomisation of production and capitalist anarchy
The «reorganisation» of russian industry
Table 1 – principal indicators of the 10th five-year plan
Table 2 – principal objectives of the 10th plan
Table 3 – production during the course of the 8th, 9th and 10th plans
Table 4 – production realised in relation to the objectives of the plan
Table 5 – results of the 8 th plan
Table 6 – Krushchev projections compared with results
Table 7 – breakdown of russian industrial enterprises by size in 1973
Table 8 – rate of growth of russian industry
Table 9 – industrial workers and labour productivity

On the occasion of the 10th Five-Year Plan:

The myth of «socialist planning» in Russia

Today, it is very plain that thirty years of «prosperity» and unbridled accumulation have merely brought Western capitalism once again to the infernal cycle of crises. The vicissitudes of capitalism in its Oriental and Russian forms however are still obscured by the myth that there are no crises in the East but instead «socialist planning», and stable growth.

The sad spectacle of the failure of Russian agriculture – a failure due neither to «communism» as the Western bourgeoisie would have us believe, nor to «climatic conditions» as their Russian counterparts pretend, but solely to the capitalist backwardness of Kolkhoz farming – is enough to show clearly that the Soviet economy is not spared by the crisis. In fact it is towards American capitalism (whose agriculture was incredibly prosperous even while its industry was struck head-on by the crisis) that Russia had to turn in order to feed its hungry – and all the while styling itself a socialist society in the process of constructing the «material basis of communism». But the myth remains alive, the myth of «socialist planning» in industry, high rates of growth which this makes possible, and the false equation which lies at the base of Stalinist and post-Stalinist propaganda: socialism equals planning plus frenzied growth. But still the majority of those who have come to recognise the lie of social peace and Western «prosperity» do so only to fall into another bourgeois trap by calling not for the end of this bestial epoch of frantic accumulation, but for its «planning» in order to reach still higher rates of accumulation.

This is why, before showing the reality of the so-called «planning» of Russian industry, it is necessary to recall an elementary Marxist truth – buried under the debris of the Stalinist counterrevolution: socialism is not characterised by enormous rates of growth; it does not measure its results by the standards of the capitalist economy – it is not a «super capitalism».


A truly socialist economy has no interest whatsoever in production or production’s sake, the «over fulfilment» of plans, and economic competition with rivals (what rivals?). In place of running after objectives of an historically past epoch, the socialist mode of production will seek not only to produce for the needs of the species, but also to permit the species to develop in a way never before possible, the easing of society’s productive effort, the elimination of the evil inheritances of capitalism – notably the division of labour – which have imprisoned human labour in a slave camp in the service of class society. In other words, socialism is not «constructed» by means of Stakhanovist slogans and frantic accumulation. On the contrary it is born from the final and complete destruction, at the hands of the proletarian dictatorship, of the social relations and economic laws of capitalism, along with the destruction of their material base – the capitalist relations of production.

Socialism is characterised then by the disappearance of the kingpin of the market and capitalist structure, the category with which Marx commenced his exposition of the theory of the capitalist mode of production, that is to say value, which is synonymous with the private appropriation of the product of the production process:

«From the moment when society enters into possession of the means of production and uses them in direct association for production, the labour of each individual, however varied its specifically useful character may be, becomes at the start and directly social labour. The quantity of social labour contained in a product need not then be established in a roundabout way; daily experience shows in a direct way how much of it is required on the average. Society can simply calculate how many hours of labour are contained in a steam engine, a bushel of wheat of the last harvest, or a hundred square yards of cloth of a certain quality. It could therefore never occur to it still to express the quantities of labour put into the products which it will then known directly and in their absolute amounts, in a third product, in a measure which, besides, is only relative, fluctuating, inadequate, though formerly unavoidable for lack of a better, rather than express them in their natural, adequate and absolute measure, time. Just as little would it occur to chemical science still to express atomic weights in a roundabout way, relatively, by means of the hydrogen atom, if it were able to express them absolutely, in their adequate measure, namely in actual weights, in billionths or quadrillionths of a gramme. Hence, on the assumptions we made above, society will not assign values to products»[1].

Socialism therefore has no use for the market categories which reign as master over the Russian economy. It does not know value since there are no private products and thus no exchange between private producers, implying that the producers have no need to know the relative values of their products. It thus knows neither the market nor commodities, and still less the particular commodity money. It knows neither selling nor buying and thus neither the selling nor buying of the commodity labour power or wage-labour which, for the Marxist, is abolished during the first phase of communist society, or socialism. In this phase, to use Marx’s expression, we are dealing with «communist society just as it emerges from capitalist society» and where the individual producer «receives a certificate from society that he has furnished such and such an amount of labour (after deducting his labour for the common funds), and with this certificate he draws from the social stock of means of consumption as much as the same amount of labour costs. The same amount of labour which he has given to society in one form he receives back in another»[2].

The fact that the Russian economy exhibits all of the commodity and capitalist categories, the fact that the Russian workers are subject to the slavery of wages, suffices to define it as capitalist. We have illustrated fully in the work of our Party[3] that the Russian economy has never ceased to be capitalist and that this fact was openly recognised by Lenin (which, of course, did not prevent the October Revolution and the power which was born from it from having been authentically communist). To mask its real nature, the Stalinist counterrevolution created the nonsensical theory that socialism is compatible with commodity categories, that it is characterised by the same categories as capitalism but with a different content. As if categories were not characterised precisely by their content! As if this content was not so inevitably that of the capitalist categories that the same concepts are essential to describe it! This type of argument has, moreover, already been utilised by the ineffable Herr Dühring to whom Engels had sharply retorted:

«To seek to abolish the capitalist form of production by establishing «true value» is therefore tantamount to attempting to abolish catholicism by establishing the «true» Pope, or to set up a society in which at last the producers control their products, by consistently carrying into life an economic category which is the most comprehensive expression of the enslavement of the producers by their own product»[4].

Stalinism has done much worse: it has instituted a «socialist» value, which signifies not only the enslavement of the producer, but also the abolition of Marxism.

The socialist plan

It follows from what has been said that the plan of a socialist society does not preoccupy itself with value, still less with money or the profitability on invested funds – as does the Russian plan. It is concerned only with use-values, that is to say the utility of the product and the time necessary for its manufacture:

«It is true that even then it will still be necessary for society to know how much labour each article of consumption requires for its production. It will have to arrange its plan of production in accordance with its means of production, which include, in particular, its labour-power. The useful effects of the various articles of consumption, compared with one another and with the quantities of labour required for their production, will in the end determine the plan. People will be able to manage everything very simply, without the intervention of much-vaunted «value»»[5].

Consequently, socialism is incompatible not only with the existence of money, but also with that brutal capitalist invention, the rate of growth which embraces in a common figure (in Russia as in the West) the necessities of life and the instruments of death, useful means of consumption and luxuries of the most idiotic type. Even if not expressed directly in money terms, the rate of growth in effect presupposes value and money, since the only way to compare the total production of two different years which comprise thousands of different objects from biscuits to machine-tools is to compare their values and these can only be expressed in money. Without value, which is the only universal standard of measure of different use-values, without money, which is the only universal standard of measure of value, no comparison is possible and so no rate of growth of production can exist. The only thing that socialist society will be able to measure as a function of total production will be the amount of labour time furnished by the species in order to produce its means of existence – but it is the diminution of this quantity, the easing of the species’ productive effort, which we shall perhaps amuse ourselves by measuring from one year to the next, since otherwise socialism makes no sense at all. What sense, what interest can there be for a socialist society to measure a rate of growth of total production? As Engels explained, its production is guided only by the utility of the various objects and the amount of labour necessary for their production. The only rate of growth which could be measured would be that of the actual physical production of each use-value taken separately. But there again, what would be the point in measuring this? If the needs of humanity for bicycles are estimated at 50 millions in one year, and 54 millions the next, the plan must organise this extra production. But what sense would there be in glorifying the rate of growth of 8 % in bicycle production? What sense would there be in trying to overstep this rate if this does not correspond to the needs of the species? And what would be the sense of always wanting to produce more bicycles since there will be no profit to be made, no market to capture from rivals who no longer exist, no surplus-value to fight over with other capitalists? If it is estimated that the needs of humanity for individual transport require that automobile production be decreased, the plan must organise this also, and there will be no sense in lamenting the resulting negative rate of growth. There will be no point in attempting to prevent it by artificially stimulating new needs in order to avoid financial losses and bankruptcies (which will no longer exist) of the autonomous enterprises (which will have disappeared).

The rate of growth is merely one of the idols of the religion of production for production’s sake which characterises capitalism, and only capitalism, just as do those idols of the commodity and money, and all that derive from them. The plan of a socialist society knows neither commodities, money, nor rates of growth.

And the Russian plan? Table 1, published by «Pravda», summarises the «principal indicators» of the 10th five-year plan (1976–80) announced by Kossygin at the 25th Congress of the C.P.S.U. To which Gods do these indicators refer? None other than the Gods Value, the Rouble, and Augmentation of Value – the very idols venerated by all capitalist states throughout the world. The Russian «plan» is figured in terms of commodities, money, and rates of growth. We need go no further to conclude that it is capitalist from A to Z: there is not an ounce of socialism in it.


After this necessary reminder, we now move on to the myth of planning. The anarchy and bankruptcy of Russian agriculture is known to all, and it is pointless to waste time showing that there is not the least amount of planning of agricultural production. Production in this sector is left entirely to the laws of the market in which the state is sometimes forced to intervene haphazardly. This is also done in all Western capitalist countries through fixing the prices of the principal products, providing subsidies, stockpiling commodities, controlling credit, etc. We shall concentrate therefore on the sphere of industrial production. The 10th five-year plan (1976–80), recently adopted at the 25th Congress of the C.P.S.U., forecasts for 1980 that industrial production will stand at 720 billions of roubles – a growth of 37 % in comparison with 1975. As with the French plan for example, the Russian plan forecasts the level of production of the principal products compared with 1975, the essentials of which have been summarised in Table 2.

Certainly it is the existence of these «targets», so complacently commented upon in speeches and in the official press, which provides much of the basis for the myth of planning. But in reality these targets do not «plan» anything because they are as a general rule only projections of tendencies already present in the economy. The self-styled planner has no control over the dynamics of production: far from being master of the economic machine, he can only follow it as best he can by trying to predict where it will take him. He fixes not production, but the index – an extrapolation of past trends. This is shown by the 8th, 9th and 10th five-year plans for the production of the principal products – summarised in Table 3. The columns indicate for each product the rates of growth predicted and those subsequently achieved.

Let us examine the table line by line. For most of the products we have a series of decreasing figures. For example, for steel the 8th plan «fixed» a growth objective of 39 % for the ensuing 5 years. This was not attained, 27 % being actually realised. The following plan prudently fixed a new objective lower than that previously achieved – 26 %. This was not achieved either and the 10th plan has fixed a still lower rate, lower, in fact, than that actually achieved in the course of the 9th plan. This is the case for steel, electricity, tractors, and (with a minor difference) cement. In the case of oil and fertiliser the plan happens to have been realised, but the tendency is the same: in the vast majority of cases the plan «plans» nothing at all. It can only register and project the slackening rate of growth of industrial production. In the cases of gas, automobiles, and coal, while the slackening rate of growth is obvious on the whole, the series of figures is more capricious and might seem to reflect the influence of the state. But which products are these? Coal, a commodity whose production has seen a renewed effort because world prices have soared, which means that coal exports can earn hard currency, while its extraction does not require new methods of technology (unlike oil); gas, where contracts for large deliveries have been signed with the US and West Germany; and automobiles, whose factories have been imported and entirely installed by Western capitalisms. To sum up then, the Russian economy is «planned» by nothing other than the world market!

Furthermore, if the Russian plan can, in the vast majority of cases, only reflect and project tendencies already inherent in the dynamics of production, the forecasting of these tendencies cannot be much better than in the West. This is indeed the case as the reader can easily see by merely examining the last five plans which are summarised in Table 4. Of the series of five objectives successively fixed for the nine basic products shown, the planned target has been realised only eight times (to within 1 %). Nine times it has been surpassed – but surpassing the target implies frantic accumulation, Stakhanovism, more intense exploitation of the working class, quite the contrary of socialism. Finally, the plan’s targets have not been reached on twenty-seven occasions with shortfalls of up to 36 % (514 000 automobiles less than the «plan» predicted!). In addition the figures refer only to the key products: one can imagine the state of affairs in other branches of production where the combination of bottlenecks can only increase the disorganisation and the shortfalls. This proves that far from being planned the Russian economy flounders in the midst of the anarchy of the market.

Close examination of the official figures also reveals that in order to conceal this anarchy, statisticians do not hesitate to manipulate the indices just as their Western counterparts do. The recent most flagrant case is that of the 8th five-year plan (1966–70). The least one can say about the results of this plan, the essentials of which are summarised in Table 5, is that they are lamentable: a shortfall of 10.5 million metric tons of steel, 4.6 million tons of coal, 35 billions of cubic metres of gas, 99 billions of Kwh of electricity, 9 million tons of fertiliser, 154 000 tractors, 514 000 transport vehicles, 7 million tons of cement. But no matter; by the «miracles of a made in Moscow» socialism, Russian leaders were able to announce, in the midst of these considerable shortcomings, that the same period had seen a growth in industrial production which had exceeded the plan. A 50 % growth over the five years had occurred in place of the 48.5 % which had been predicted[6]. This trick leaves us breathless, but it is only a continuation of those of the Stalinist period. The fact that with much smaller physical shortfalls (thanks to more modest objectives) the 9th plan (1971–75) saw a slight shortfall in the overall rate of industrial growth (43 % as against the predicted 44 %)[7] is an implicit acknowledgement that the books were cooked. It is much easier to plan those indices than to plan capitalist anarchy.

Passing on from five-year plans to the ten and twenty year projections we see that the idiocy of the Russian claims to planning appears even more glaringly. Table 6 summarises the famous predictions made by Khrushchev in 1961 for the years 1970 and 1980. By 1965 it was apparent that the targets fixed for 1970 would not be achieved, and the 8th five-year plan «reset the sights» to a more sensible level (see Table 5) – which did not prevent the occurrence of the most glaring inaccuracies. On the whole, actual production in 1970 varied between 10 % and 68 % below the targets set by Khrushchev, and more than half of the objectives which were to be realised by 1970 were not even attained five years later in 1975. Compared with the targets set for 1980, production lags still further behind. With practically only one exception the objectives of the 10th five-year plan are lower than those set by Khrushchev by amounts ranging from 10 % to 71 % (thus the production of electricity in 1980 will not be even half of that predicted by Khrushchev) – Oh the miracles of Russian market planning!

Atomisation of production and capitalist anarchy

How can we explain the shattering reversals suffered by these self-styled «planners» ? For Marxists the response is immediate: it is due to the anarchy of capitalist and commodity production which is characteristic of an economy composed of autonomous enterprises that function (whatever may be their legal form of ownership) according to the rules of capital within the framework of the market. But did Engels himself not affirm that even in a capitalist market economy the absence of a plan could to a certain extent make way for planned production?[8]. Why then is this not the case in Russia? Precisely because there lacks in Russia those conditions outlined by Engels as necessary before planning begins to make its appearance – concentration and monopoly.

In an economy where production is split up among tens of thousands of autonomous enterprises each functioning as a centre for the accumulation of capital with its own accounts and its own financial autonomy, it is of little importance whether legal ownership is in the hands of the state, the people, or whatever other entity: production in such a case can only be regulated by the market and not by a central plan. On January 1st, 1974, Russian industry consisted of 48 578 autonomous state enterprises[9]. It must be pointed out that this figure does not include the building industry, nor the officially registered handicrafts, nor, above all, all the small enterprises which inevitably arise due to the market and wage-labour and whose existence is indirectly acknowledged by the Soviet press (such as small mechanical workshops, repair shops of all kinds, apartment decorators and fitters etc.). The breakdown of state industrial enterprises by size (according to the number of workers) is given in Table 7. Despite the incompleteness of the statistics it is easily seen that in the structure of Russian industry there exists that feature which is characteristic of all capitalist industrial structures: a myriad of small and medium sized businesses (generated by the market and constantly growing) dominated by a lesser number of big enterprises and a very few giants. But that part of the total industrial production carried out by the larger enterprises is less in Russia than in the West (they are «giants» only in the number of their employees). Comparatively more production is carried out by the not so large enterprises. This means that Russian industry is much less concentrated than that of Western countries – quite an achievement for a supposedly «advanced socialist economy».

Two figures suffice to illustrate this relative lack of concentration: according to Table 7, in 1973, 61.5 % of Russian industrial production was carried out by the 5300 largest enterprises (a total of the last three lines of the table). In the United States in the same year a slightly larger portion of industrial production (65 %) was carried out by a mere 500 firms. Another table of annual statistics for Russia tells us (again for 1973) that 31.1 % of industrial production was carried out by 1.4 % of the enterprises – numbering 660. In the United States the same percentage (31 %) is accounted for by 50 firms![10] The relative weakness of concentration in Russian industry is plain. On the economic level the structure of the American industry lends itself much more to «planning» than that of Russian industry.

The «reorganisation» of russian industry

Russian «managers» are concerned about this lack of concentration not because it hinders any planning but because it prevents the development of an advanced capitalist industry with really competitive enterprises which can one day rival those of the other capitalist countries. One of the spokesmen of these managers, the academician Aganbegian, recently explained that

«To give more autonomy to enterprises makes sense only if there exist enterprises worthy of the name. Soviet enterprises are small and weak… they are mainly establishments which employ 600 workers on average. These must be concentrated from the 49 000 which exist to around 5000»[11].

To this end the state has undertaken, with the 1973 reform, a reorganisation of Russian industry by introducing the «industrial combination» throughout Russia, after having experimented with it for several years. The official objective of this reform is to «concentrate further the principal enterprises in a given branch of production… in order to ensure an appreciable improvement in the productivity of labour, enhance quality, Lower production costs and improve the other economic indicators[12]

Horizontal concentration and vertical integration are thus realised by operations of fusion and absorption of enterprises which (judicial fiction apart) are equivalent to those commonplace in Western countries and have the same objectives. Principally, these objectives are the increase of profit («increasing the profitability of production») and the possibility of ensuring at the same time competitiveness on the world market («to ensure the launching of new production whose technical and economic characteristics are such that they can compete with the most advanced soviet or foreign ones, and even surpass them»)[13]. It is furthermore not difficult to predict corresponding effects for the working class, particularly in the matter of layoffs. In 1974 there were more than 1500 of these industrial combinations bringing together more than 6000 enterprises which had previously been autonomous production units[14] and, according to Kossygin’s speech to the 25th Congress, the number of these combinations had grown to 2300 by the beginning of 1976.

At the same time, this reform seeks to rid the enterprises of the last constrictions placed upon them by attempts at central planning which have been characterised by an unwieldy and bureaucratic tutelage and which, without planning anything, merely hinders management:

«Ministries and administrations… must streamline the bureaucracy of sectorial management in industry so that the majority of economic decisions are decided directly in the enterprises, the combinat, or the industrial combination»[15].

The concentration of enterprises and the reduction of bureaucratic fetters upon a «normal» capitalist management[16] are two essential conditions, even if not in themselves sufficient, for the modernisation of a capitalism far inferior to its Western counterpart. In fact, the industrial reorganisation of Russian enterprises expresses a fundamental need: that of obtaining higher productivity and thus better exploitation of the working class in order to combat the tendency of the rate of economic growth to fall and to construct enterprises which will one day be able to compete internationally. We have already demonstrated the decline in growth of certain key areas of production (see Table 3). The statistics in Table 8 show this in its historic dimension: the rate of growth halves every quarter of a century.

This decline has entirely confirmed the predictions made in the works of our party twenty years ago when, in order to unmask the lie of the Stalinist thesis which saw in the large growth rates of the time the proof of the pretended «socialism», we showed that this rapid growth characterised all capitalisms in the period of their youth, and its decline is an ineluctable historic law of ageing capitalism. Russian capitalism is no exception. Setting out from a very low level of development aggravated by the devastations of civil war, it was natural for industry to have high rates of growth, which were accelerated still more (as is the case for the majority of newly born capitalisms – see for example Japan) by the strong impetus given by the state in its role as a centraliser of capital. The Stalinist period of accumulation was that of the formation of a real interior market, the transformation from a still predominantly pre-capitalist structure in which the working class formed only a small part of the population (10 % in 1913, as opposed to a peasant population of 76 %), to an entirely capitalist economy, and finally the extensive accumulation that allowed for the creation of an industry responsive to the needs of the interior market. The total number of industrial workers went from 3.9 million in 1913 to 12.2 million in 1950 and more than 27 million in 1975 – up by a factor of seven since the period before the revolution. The number of industrial manufacturing enterprises employing more than 100 workers rose from 2805 in 1911 (employing 1 645 000 workers) to 11 591 in 1933 (employing 4.5 million workers) and to more than 26 000 in 1968 (employing nearly 19 million workers)[17] – a tenfold increase both in the numbers of enterprises and in the workers employed. These statistics illustrate the budding of a young capitalism, and its blossoming – ceaselessly creating new enterprises, extensively accumulating the absolute surplus-value extorted from the ever increasing army emerging from the land and regimented into industry. This extensive accumulation continued in the post-war period[18]. From 1950 to 1970, the number of industrial workers more than doubled (in the United States, for the same period, the numbers of workers increased by a little more than a quarter). But this pace of accumulation slowed little by little and simultaneously the growth in the working population slackened also. The Russian agricultural population has decreased enormously since the revolution, but it still represents in 1975 about 25 % of the active population: a considerable proportion (for comparison this figure was reached in France in the mid-50’s and in the U.S. during the mid-20’s), which shows the extent to which the Russian economy, and thus industry, drags the ball and chain of a backward agriculture. This high agricultural population remains on the land because of relatively primitive agriculture and the backwardness of the Kolkhoz farming system. The flow of hands which fuelled industrial growth has therefore tended to dry up. As the figures of Table 9 show, the effective number of industrial workers, which grew at the rate of 4 % or 5 % a year during the 50's, is projected to increase by less than I % a year during the course of the 10th Plan.

Still lacking the power to continue to tackle this backward agrarian structure, Russian capitalism is seeking, in the words of bourgeois economics, to «develop the latent reserves of productivity» which exist in its industry. Put in the correct way this means passing from an extensive accumulation on the basis of absolute surplus-value to an intensive accumulation seeking gains in productivity in the already existing units, replacing workers by machines and more generally «reorganising» the process of production to increase productivity and the intensity of labour, i.e. seeking to produce relative surplus-value. Such measures are those of concentration and reorganisation to which we have already referred: the experiences of layoffs typified by Chtchekino and the constant appeals of Russian managers and trade unions for more productivity and work discipline, etc.

While a socialist society will utilise improvements in productivity to reduce the productive effort of the species, in Russia, on the contrary, the intensification of labour is necessary to contribute to the growth of productivity for the greater prosperity of the enterprise and the greater good of the «national economy». The appeal for more exploitation is a regularly occurring leitmotif which reappears with each Plan.

«The plan forecasts an acceleration in the pace of growth of labour productivity thanks to an extensive introduction of scientific and technical discovery into production, a greater specialisation of production, and the scientific organisation of work, and thanks to the strengthening of economic incentives… The mechanisation of auxiliary work, the observation of regular rhythm in production, the improvement in work discipline, the elimination of dead work for the labour-force, constitute important sources of latent reserves for the national economy». (Kossygin, Speech to the 23rd Congress).

«Raising the efficiency of production, reducing costs, and increasing the productivity of labour – this is the path we must follow in order to increase profits… In the enterprises which have passed over to the new system it has become the rule to pay, as a material incentive, an end-of-year bonus calculated on seniority, discipline, and quality of work. Experience has taught us that this form of encouragement is conducive to the growth of labour productivity, the reduction of the fluctuations in workmanship and the strengthening of labour discipline» (Kossygin, Speech to the 24th Congress).

«It is of course necessary to pay particular attention to the growth in the productivity of labour… In existing enterprises production must increase, as a general rule, without augmentation of the work force, and even with its reduction. But it is no less important to resolutely improve the organisation of work, eliminate time-wasting, and increase labour discipline» (Kossygin, Speech to the 25th Congress).

«In the light of what has been said, faults which are particularly intolerable are those of wastage of labour time and dead work, irregularity in the pace of work, lack of discipline in work and technique, and large turnover of personnel in enterprises» (Brezhnev, Speech to the 25th Congress)[19].

As we have shown, the industrial reorganisation aims at the same time to improve the ability of Russian industry to compete in the world market. But this supposes that Russia overcomes at least in part its technological backwardness compared to the capitalism of the developed West: whence the massive importation of modern equipment (often in the form of entire factories). This, added to the importation of wheat, weighs heavily on the Russian commercial balance (for 1975, the commercial deficit with the developed capitalist countries was 3.5 billion Roubles according to official figures)[20] and necessitates large capital loans from the West.

It is at this price – a price ultimately paid by the sacrifices of the Russian working class – that industry is able to make its enterprises competitive and increase its exports.

«One of our important tasks is to improve our external trade relations. To do this we intend to regularly increase the country s export potential, in new articles as well as traditional commodities… Ministers and Departments must take systematic measures to increase production, and also to improve the quality and competitiveness of our exports. Foreign trade becoming an important part of our national economy, the question arises of organising, in certain cases, enterprises specialising in exports, in order to satisfy the specific needs of external markets» (Kossygin, Speech to the 25th Congress)[21].

The implications of this program for the working class are only too clear. The much-vaunted competitiveness of commodities signifies nothing other than economic war between rival capitalists. Behind commodities there are in fact proletarians of all countries placed in competition with one another in the effort and in exploitation by their respective capitals, which do not seek to «satisfy the specific needs» of a world market supersaturated with commodities, but to exploit and to pocket as much surplus-value as possible by capturing a greater share of the market at the expense of their competitors. The more acute this economic war becomes (and the participation of Russia can only aggravate it more), the more the constricting laws of capitalism tighten around the working class. They imply, in the East as in the West, «restructuring» and layoffs, an end to «dead work» and «under worked» workers, encouragement of competition between workers for bonuses and differentials, increase in the intensity of labour and the exhaustion of proletarians – in a word, greater exploitation of the working class.

The consequences of a programme so typically capitalist do not end there. The growing integration of Russia into the world market implies, in the short term, further financial and commercial outlets for the most powerful Western capitalists. Helping Russian industry to modernise however, can only aid a future competitor to arm itself. In the end the full participation of Russia in the world economy implies the arrival of a new source of commodities on a market already regularly saturated, and can only result in aggravating world capitalist crises. Conversely, the more the principal Russian industrial branches interact with the world market, the more industry in its entirety becomes dependent upon international exchanges, and the more world capitalist crises carry the Russian economy in their train.

This is why our conclusion is the same as that of over 20 years ago:

«Once the Iron Curtain has been transformed into a cobweb by international competition, the universal mercantile crisis will strike at the heart of young Russian industry. This is what lies in store as a result of the unification of markets and free circulation of blood in the capitalist monster! But those who bring about this unification, unify also the revolution, whose world-wide hour could well come in the wake of the crisis of the second interlude between wars and before the third world war breaks out»[22].

Table 1 – principal indicators of the 10th five-year plan
Billions* of Roubles
Billions of Roubles
Growth 76/80
Billions of Roubles
Growth 76/80
(1973 prices)
362 449–462 87–100 24–28
Consumption funds 266 337–344 71–78 27–29
Accumulation funds 96 112–118 16–22 17–23
Industrial production
(prices at 1/07/67)
523 710–729 187–206 35–39
Group A
(means of prod.)
380 524–540 144–160 38–42
Group B
(means of cons.)
143 186–189 43–46 30–32
Agricultural production
Average fig., 1965 prices
91 104–106 13–15 14–17
Source: Kossygin : Address to the 25th Congress of the C.P.S.U., 1st March 1976 ; «Pravda», 2nd March 1976.
* Billion is an American billion throughout. [⤒]
Table 2 – principal objectives of the 10th plan
Product Produced in 1975 Objective for 1980 Growth (%)
Steel (millions of metric tons) 141 165 17
Coal (do.) 701 800 14
Oil (do.) 491 630 28
Gas (billions of m3) 289 418 44
Electricity (billions of Kwh) 1 038 1 360 31
Fertiliser (millions of metric tons) 90 143 59
Tractors (thousands) 550 590 7
Automobiles (do.) 1 964 2 150 9
Cement (millions of metric tons) 122 145 19
Sources: 1975 figures: «Ekonomitcheskaya Gazeta» № 6, February 1976 ; Objectives for 1980 : «Pravda», 2nd March 1976 ; EG № 11, March 1976. [⤒]
Table 3 – production during the course of the 8th, 9th and 10th plans (growth in %)
Steel 39 27 26 21 17
Coal 16 8 11 12 14
Oil 45 45 39 40 28
Gas 73 54 55 41 44
Electricity 66 46 42 40 31
Feriliser 108 77 63 63 59
Tractors 73 29 25 20 7
Automobiles 132 48 125 114 9
Cement 41 31 31 28 19
Sources: the same as Table 2; also: «Pravda», 10th April 1971 (for the projections) ; «Narodnoe Khozyaistva S.S.S.R.» (for the production actually realised). [⤒]
Table 4 – production realised in relation to the objectives of the plan (in %)
Steel + 3 - 4 + 3 - 8 - 3
Coal + 5 - 14 - 5 - 7 ~
Oil ~ + 3 + 3 ~ ~
Gas -7 + 18 - 14 - 15 - 9
Electricity + 4 - 9 ~ - 12 ~
Fertiliser -7 - 29 - 11 - 14 ~
Tractors + 25 - 26 n.a - 25 - 4
Automobiles + 2 - 19 - 13 - 36 - 4
Cement ~ - 18 - 7 - 7 - 2
Sources: Calculations based on figures in «Pravda», 20th August 1952, 15th January 1956, 8th February 1959, and sources cited previously. The sign ~ indicates that the plan was realised to within 1 %. [⤒]
Table 5 – results of the 8 th plan
  Objectives for 1970 Realised by 1970 Amount short of objective % short of objective
Steel (millions of tons) 126.5 116 - 10.5 - 8
Coal (do.) 670 624 - 46 - 7
Oil (do.) 350 349 - 1 ~
Gas (billions of m3) 233 198 - 35 - 15
Electricity (billions of Kwh) 840 741 - 99 - 12
Fertiliser (millions of tons) 64 55 - 9 - 14
Tractors (thousands) 612 458 - 154 - 25
Automobiles (do.) 1430 916 - 514 - 36
Cement (millions of tons) 102 95 - 7 - 7
Sources: see Table 3. [⤒], [⤒]
Table 6 – Krushchev projections compared with results
  Projection for 1970 Realised by 1970 % short of projection Projection for 1980 Objectives for the 10th Plan (1980) Variation (%)
Steel 145 116 20 250 165 -34
Coal 693 624 10 1190 800 -33
Oil 390 349 10 700 630 -10
Gas 317 198 37 700 418 -40
Electricity 950 741 22 2850 1350 -52
Fertiliser 77 55 28 130 143 +10
Plastics 5300 1673 68 20000 5680 -71
Cement 122 95 22 234 145 -38
Sources: Krushchev, speech at 22nd Congress of the C.P.S.U., 18th October 1961, «Pravda», 19th October 1961 (1970 and 1980 projections) ; other figures are from sources previously cited. Units are the same as Table 2 and Table 5; plastics in million of metric tons. [⤒]
Table 7 – breakdown of russian industrial enterprises by size in 1973
Number of workers Number of enterprises % of enterprises % of total production
Less than 100 16 500 35 4.2
100 to 500 20 000 42.3 19.9
500 to 1000 5 300 11.3 14.4
1000 to 3000 3 960 8.4 25.9
3000 to 10000 1 180 2.5 24
More than 10000 140 0.3 11.6
Sources: Figures drawn from «Narodnoe Khozyaistva S.S.S.R.», 1973. The statistics only deal with around 47 200 enterprises. Electricity production is excluded in official Russian source. [⤒]
Table 8 – rate of growth of russian industry
Period Plan Annual average rate of growth (%)
1922–1928 Pre-plan 23
1929–1932 1st 19,3
1933–1937 2nd 17,1
1938–1940 3rd (3 years) 13,2
1941–1945 war -
1946–1950 4th 13,5
1951–1955 5th 13
1956–1960 6th 10,4
1961–1965 7th (7-years plan 59–65) 8,6
1966–1970 8th 8,4
1971–1975 9th 7,4
1976–1980 10th (prediction) 6,5
Sources: calculated on the basis of figures in «Narodnoe Khozyaistva S.S.S.R.» of various years, and sources cited in table 2. [⤒]

It must be remembered that the Russian statisticians themselves have been obliged to rectify the base of official figures given in the years before 1940, which had been falsified in the interests of Stalinist propaganda. Thus, in his report to the 17th congress of the Russian Communist Party, 26th January 1934, Stalin indicated triumphantly that the index of industrial production had risen from 100 in 1913 to 391.9 in 1933 («The Essential Stalin, Major Theoretical writings», 1905–52. New York. 1972, p. 229). At the following Congress, 10th March 1939, the figures given by the «Father of Peoples» indicated (again with 1913 = 100) an index of 380.5 for 1933 (a small correction) and 908.8 for the year 1938 (op. cit., p. 350). But the figures published in the official Russian Yearbook («Narodnoe Khozyaistva S.S.S.R.») reveal that the indices Stalin presented as those for industrial production as a whole represented in fact only big industry which accumulated much faster. For industry as a whole, the indexes (1913 100) were 281 in 1933 and 657 in 1938. Stalin’s figures were inflated by about a third.

This new series of figures had to be rectified in its turn in 1961 because it had been «forgotten» to include production in the territories occupied by the Russian Army in 1939 and definitively acquired in 1945 (which correspond roughly to the present-day republics of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Moldavia). Taking 1913 as 100, the index for 1940 was 852 (old series) and 769 (new series). The new series is still in use in the official Yearbook. The 1974 index stood at 12 200 which rose in 1975 to 13 000 according to figures published in the Russian press («Ekonomitcheskaya Gazeta» no. 6, February 1978). But the Yearbook maintains a discrete silence on the indices of pre-war industrial production. No figures are given for the entire period 1913 to 1940!

Table 9 – industrial workers and labour productivity
  5th plan
6th plan
7th plan
8th plan
9th plan
10th plan
Industrial workers at the beginning of the period (millions) 12.2 15.2 18.9 22.5 25.6 27.5
Increase over the period (%) 24.6 24.3 19 13.8 7.4 3.9
Increase in labour productivity (%) 48 37 26 32 34 32
Increase in industrial production (%) 85 64 51 50 43 37
Sources: «Narodnoe Khozyaistva S.S.S.R.»., and sources cited in Table 2. [⤒]

[prev.] [content] [end]

  1. Engels, «Anti-Dühring», Moscow, 1969, p. 366–7. [⤒]

  2. «Critique of the Gotha Programme», «Marx-Engels, Selected Works», London, 1970, p. 319. [⤒]

  3. See particularly «Struttura Economica e Sociale della Russia d’Oggi», reprinted in book form by Edizioni Il Programma Comunista, Milan; in English see «Marxism and Russia», «Communist Program» no. 3, May 1977. [⤒]

  4. «Anti-Dühring», op. cit., p. 368. [⤒]

  5. «Anti-Dühring», p. 367. [⤒]

  6. Kossygin’s speech to the 24th Congress of the C.P.S.U., quoted in «Pravda», 7th April 1971. The figure of 50 % is, furthermore, effectively that which is used in the official Russian Statistical Yearbook («Narodnoe Khozyaistva S.S.S.R.»). [⤒]

  7. Brezhnev’s speech to the 25th Congress of the C.P.S.U., quoted in «Pravda», 25th February 1976. [⤒]

  8. See «Anti-Dühring», Part 3, Chapter 2. The question is far from an academic one, since the dictatorship of the proletariat will itself be confronted with the task of economic planning, originally within the market framework, in order to initiate the destruction of the commodity economy. [⤒]

  9. «Narodnoe Khozyaistva S.S.S.R.», 1973. If one adds to this figure 300 000 auxiliary enterprises and factories («SSSR v’tsifrah», 1974) one arrives at the figure of about 350 000 production units or establishments. [⤒]

  10. «Fortune», May 1974. Note that these comparisons only apply to the respective percentages of industrial production and ignore their absolute levels. If we roughly estimate the value of American industrial output in 1973 as being double that of Russian industry we arrive at the conclusion that only 50 U.S. corporations produce as much as the top 5300 Russian enterprises. This comparison – which relates only to size – speaks volumes about the quantitative and qualitative gap which separates the two economies, as well as the pain which Russia’s full integration into the world market will cost her. To further illustrate the point we may note that in France in 1970, 63 % of industrial production was carried out by around 1300 firms («Économie et Statistique» no. 53, February 1974) and in Germany in 1972, 63 % was carried out by 1667 firms («Statistisches Jahrbuch für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland», 1975); finally, in Great Britain in 1970, 50 % of industrial production was carried out by 100 firms («Financial Times», 19 April 1972). [⤒]

  11. «L’Expansion», October 1975. [⤒]

  12. Resolution of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. and of the Council of Ministers, quoted in «Pravda», 3rd April 1973 (our emphasis). [⤒]

  13. Ibid. [⤒]

  14. «SSSR v’tsifrah», 1974. [⤒]

  15. Resolution of the CC. of the C.P.S.U… ibid. [⤒]

  16. When we refer to «bureaucratic fetters» we are not making this into a «theory» as the Trotskyists do – we are merely stating a fact. These shackles on the «free» functioning of enterprises exist – to a greater or lesser extent – in all capitalist countries. We need only listen to the managing director of any British or American firm complaining about all the constraints and vexations to which he is subject in matters of tax, social security, controls of all kinds on his supply and sale prices, all nevertheless coming from a state which is that of his own class. The discipline is only imposed – to a limited degree of course – on the individual capitalist, the better to serve the interests of the entire class. The bureaucracy does not have its own dynamic (but on the contrary a powerful inertia). [⤒]

  17. Figures taken from «SSSR i zarubeznye strany posle pobedy velikoï oktiabrskoï revolioutsii», Moscow 1970. We use this source because it provides figures which are statistically coherent. Those contained in the Russian official Yearbook, «Narodnoe Khozyaistva S.S.S.R.», do not give a consistent picture of the evolution of the total number of industrial enterprises. Let us note however that the 1955 Yearbook gives for 1954 the astronomical figure – totally nonsensical for an economy decreed to be «socialist» – of 212 000 industrial State enterprises to which there is added 114 000 workshops and other industrial enterprises and artisanal co-operatives, 28 000 consumer co-operative industrial units and about 400 000 Kolkhozian enterprises and workshops (forges, windmills, etc.). [⤒]

  18. To illustrate we quote Khrushchev at the 21st Congress: «We must construct or complete during the next seven years more than 140 large chemical enterprises and re-equip more than 130» («Pravda», 8th February 1959). Boasting apart, what does this declaration show?
    1)that these enterprises are not as «large» as Khrushchev would us believe since there is no sense in pretending that the installation of 140 «large» chemical units (in the sense as understood in the West) is possible in seven years;
    2)the objective being pursued is the creation of a real chemical industry. [⤒]

  19. Respectively, «Pravda», 10th April 1966, 7th April 1971, 2nd March 1976, 25th March 1976 (our emphasis). Exhortations of this kind can be counted in hundreds. A final extract from Kossygin’s speech to the 25th Congress gives an idea of the level of the
    «socialist humanism» much-vaunted by its author:
    «The role of social factors in the development of production and the raising of its efficiency will become more important during the course of the next five years. The level of qualification of management, an atmosphere of creative work and a good socio-psychological climate in the collective, concern for the workers’ conditions of life, creation of cultural and sporting facilities in the enterprise are some of the things which render a man’s life more interesting, more rich in content, and which favourably influence the results of production». («Pravda», 2nd March, 1976. our emphasis).
    In Russian «socialism» just as in the West, capital offers the same concern to its workers as it would to a herd of dairy cows to which one plays sweet music so that they produce more. [⤒]

  20. «Vneshyaya Torgovlya SSSR», 1975. [⤒]

  21. «Pravda», 2nd March 1976. [⤒]

  22. «Struttura Economica e Sociale della Russia d’Oggi», p. 270. [⤒]

Source: «communist program», No. 4, April 1978

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