ALLIANCE REPRINT SERIES
THE HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE
OF STALIN'S 'ECONOMIC PROBLEMS OF SOCIALISM IN THE USSR' by Bill Bland.
Preface By Alliance
In 1994, at an international meeting in Moscow,
representatives of Alliance were asked by a Russian friend to provide some
analyses of the circumstances of the writing of Stalin's masterpiece: "Economic
Problems of Socialism in the USSR".
Bill Bland was asked to write an analysis of this.
Characteristically of Bland, this was submitted, within a few months of
the request to this friend. The article expanded on this episode, from
the sketch that Bland had already provided in his master-work "The Restoration
of Capitalism in the USSR".
The receipt of the article was acknowledged in private,
but never was publicly acknoweldged. However some elements of its thought
can indeed be traced to the circle of that friend.
Due to pressure of time, this article was never
published by either Communist League or Alliance. This web-publication
then is the first publication of this work. It may be asked what prompts
this at this stage? The main matter prompting us to publish this is the
"When did the USSR become revisionist?"
Both these question will be elaborated in due course.
Nonetheless, the movement has profited enormously from the works of Bland,
and this work should no longer rest in some dusty file.
We distinguish this question from the related question:
"When did the USSR become a capitalist state?"
Editors Alliance February 2003.
THE HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE
OF STALIN'S 'ECONOMIC PROBLEMS OF SOCIALISM IN THE USSR'
-The 'Under The Banner Of Marxism' Editorial (1943)
-The Dispute Over Regional Economic Planning (1945)
-The Campaign To Relax Planning Priority For Means Of Production (1945-47)
-Friendly Relations With The Yugoslav Revisionists (1946-48)
-Varga's Book On The War Economy (1946)
-The Criticism Of Varga's Book (1947-49)
-Voznesensky's Book On The War Economy (1947)
-The 'Cult' Of Leningrad (1947-48)
-The Country-Wide Economic Reform (1949)
-The All-Russia Wholesale Fair (1949)
-The Politburo Action Against The Leningrad Conspirators (1949)
-Malenkov's Visit To Leningrad (1949)
-The Dismissal Of Voznesensky (1949)
-Varga's Disclaimer (1949)
-Varga's Self-Criticism (1949)
-The CC Resolution On Voznesensky's Book (1949)
-The Missing Documents (1949)
-Voznesensky's 'The Political Economy Of Communism' (1949)
-The Arrests (1949)
-The Restoration Of The Death Penalty (1950)
-The Investigation (1949-50)
-The Indictment (1950)
-The Trial (1950)
-The Preparation Of A New Textbook On Political Economy (1940-52)
-The Reduction In The Influence Of The Marxist-Leninists (1925-52)
-Stalin's 'Economic Problems Of Socialism In The Ussr' (1952)
'Economic Problems' : Part
'Economic Problems': Part
'Economic Problems' : Part
'Economic Problems' : Part
-The 19th Congress Of The CPSU (1952)
-The Public Criticism Of Voznesensky's Economic Views (1952)
-The 'Rehabilitation' Of Voznesensky (1954)
-The Abakumov Case (1954)
-The 'Rehabilitation' Of Varga (1954)
-The 20th Congress Of The Cpsu (1956)
-The Involvement Of Malenkov (1955-57)
-Varga's 'Politico-Economic Problems Of Capitalism' (1964)
-Varga's 'Testament' (1964)
-The Revisionists' Obituary Of Varga (1964)
BY 1922 THE FORCES OF OPEN COUNTER-REVOLUTION AND FOREIGN
INTERVENTION IN THE SOVIET STATE HAD BEEN DECISIVELY DEFEATED.
FROM THEN ON, THOSE WHO WISHED TO END WORKING CLASS
POWER, ON WHICH THE CONSTRUCTION AND MAINTENANCE OF SOCIALISM DEPENDS,
WERE COMPELLED TO PURSUE THEIR AIMS BY POSING AS 'MARXIST-LENINISTS' WHILE
SEEKING TO DIVERT THE POLICIES OF THE RULING COMMUNIST PARTY ALONG LINES
WHICH IN FACT WEAKENED SOCIALISM AND PAVED THE WAY FOR THE RESTORATION
OF A CAPITALIST SOCIETY.
WE CALL SUCH PEOPLE 'REVISIONISTS', BECAUSE THEY
SEEK TO 'REVISE' MARXISM-LENINISM IN SUCH A WAY AS TO SERVE THEIR ANTI-SOCIALIST
IN ORDER TO APPRECIATE THE HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE
OF STALIN'S MONUMENTAL WORK 'ECONOMIC PROBLEMS OF SOCIALISM IN THE USSR',
WE MUST SEE IT IN ITS CONTEXT OF THE CONTINUING STRUGGLE BETWEEN MARXIST-LENINISTS
* * * * *
TOWARDS THE END OF, AND IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING, THE
SECOND WORLD WAR, SOME INFLUENTIAL SOVIET ECONOMISTS PUT FORWARD REVISIONIST
IDEAS AND TRIED TO SECURE THE ADOPTION OF REVISIONIST POLICIES.
THE 'UNDER THE BANNER OF MARXISM' EDITORIAL (1943)
In 1943 the journal 'Pod znamenem Marksisma' (Under
the Banner of Marxism) published an editorial entitled 'Some Questions
of Teaching Political Economy'. It was believed to be the work of one of
the editors, the economist Lev LEONTIEV:
"This editorial was probably written by L. Leontiev".
The editorial put forward the revisionist thesis that
(Vsevolod Holubnychy: 'Soviet Debates on Economic Theories: An Introduction',
in: Harry G. Shaffer (Ed.): 'The Soviet Economy: A Collection of Western
and Soviet Views'; London; 1964; p. 345).
" . . . economic laws of socialism, in their character, content, method
of action, are fundamentally different from the economic laws of capitalism'."
and that, under socialism, policy decisions of the
Soviet state in the economic field constituted 'economic laws'. It
('Some Questions of Teaching Political Economy', (hereafter listed
as 'Some Questions' (1943), in: 'American Economic Review', Volume 34,
No. 3 p. 518).
" . . . quite un-Marxist the view that only those laws can be considered
economic laws which manifest themselves independently of man's will and
('Some Questions' (1943): op. cit.; p. 513).
"The industrialisation of the country and the collectivisation of
agriculture were laws of the socialist development of society".
The revisionist content of the editorial attracted considerable
attention among economists outside the Soviet Union - for example, the
'New York Times' on 2 April 1944 summarised the editorial under the headline:
('Some Questions' (1943): op. cit.; p. 516).
'COMMUNIST DOGMAS BASICALLY REVISED'.
On 5 July 1945, Nikolai VOZNESENSKY, who had been Chairman
of the State Planning Committee (Gosplan) since 1938,
('New York Times', 2 April 1944; p. 7).
"... . presented the findings of an investigatory committee to a session
of the State Planning Committee. In his report Voznesensky . . . proposed
that the USSR be divided for planning purposes into 17 regions, each distinguished
by its current specialisation in the output of a particular branch (or
branches) of industry".
Marxist-Leninist economists objected to the scheme on
the grounds that
(Timothy Dunmore: 'The Stalinist Command Economy: The Soviet State
Apparatus and Economic Policy: 1945-53'; London; 1980; p. 43).
". . . such a regionalisation would have inhibited the planning of
development of industries completely new to a particular area. It would
therefore have discriminated against the more backward areas of the east,
where relatively few branches of industry were well developed at this time.
. . .
Voznesensky's scheme was rejected, and:
At this time, Voznesensky was closely associated with
Mikhail RODIONOV (who had been Premier of the Russian Republic (RSFSR)
since 1943). In 1945 the two had
This regionalisation would also have accorded a very low priority to
the nationalities policy". (Timothy Dunmore: ibid.; p. 43).
". . . a common approach to practical economic problems".
Other prominent figures associated with this trend were
Anastas MIKOYAN (who had been a member of the Politburo of the CC of the
CPSU since 1935 and a USSR Deputy Premier since 1937), Aleksey KOSYGIN
(who had been a USSR Deputy Premier since 1940 and Premier of the Russian
Federation since 1943), and Aleksey KUZNETSOV (who had been lst Party Secretary
in Leningrad in 1945-46 and a secretary of the CPSU since 1946).
(William 0. McCagg, Junior: 'Stalin Embattled: 1943-1948'; Detroit;
1978; P. 134).
The principal feature of this trend was the revisionist
proposal that, now that the war was over, the traditional priority accorded
in socialist economic planning to the production of means of production
could and should be relaxed:
"Voznesenky, Mikoyan, Kosygin and Rodionov came in 1945 explicitly
together as a managerial grouping which favoured establishing a place in
the peacetime economy of the Soviet Union for light, as well as heavy industries.
. . . His (Voznesensky's -- Ed.) Five Year Plan speech of March 1946 assigned
priority on the immediate level to reconstruction tasks, civilian housing
and consumer goods. . . .
The group, around Voznesensky used their power-base
in Leningrad to introduce in the Russian Republic some of the policy changes
for which they stood. They introduced
Between 1946 and 1948, leading Leningrad figures established
friendly relations with Yugoslav leaders who were, in the latter year,
denounced by the Cominform as revisionists. Yugoslav Politburo member Milovan
DJILAS describes how Aleksandr VOZNESENSKY, Nikolay's elder brother who
was Minister of Education in the Russian Republic, expressed revisionist
views to him in 1946:
After 1945 this group, and particularly Rodionov, was involved in political
intrigues. . . . Rodionov . . . was a Russian nationalist".
(William 0. McCagg, Junior: ibid.; p. 134, 135).
"I was well acquainted with Voznesensky's elder brother, a university
professor who had just been named Minister of Education in the Russian
Federation. I had some very interesting discussions with the elder Voznesensky
at the time of the Pan-Slavic Congress in Belgrade in the winter of 1946.
We had agreed not only about the narrowness and bias of the prevailing
theories of 'socialist realism', but also about the appearance of new phenomena
in socialism. . . . with the creation of new socialist countries and with
changes in capitalism which had not yet been discussed theoretically".
Djilas reports that a Yugoslav delegation to the Soviet
Union in January 1948 was received in Moscow with 'reserve', but was warmly
welcomed in Leningrad. He tells us that since the delegation
(Milovan Djilas: 'Conversations with Stalin'; Harmondsworth; 1963;
". . . wished to see Leningrad, I approached Zhdanov about this, and
he graciously agreed. . . . But I also noticed a certain reserve. . .
Vladimir DEDIJER, the Yugoslav Director of Information,
confirms that the Yugoslav delegation:
Our encounter with Leningrad's officials added human warmth to our
admiration. . . . We got along with them, easily and quickly. . . . We
observed that these men approached the life of their city and citizens
in a simpler and more human way than the officials in Moscow.
It seemed to me that I could very quickly arrive at a common political
language with these people simply by employing the language of humanity".
(Milovan Djilas: ibid.; p. 129, 130-31).
" . . . expressed a wish to visit Leningrad. They were warmly welcomed
Naturally, these developments did not go unnoticed in
Moscow. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
noted in its letter to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of
Yugoslavia of 4 May 1948 that the last Yugoslav Party delegation to the
Soviet Union had preferred to obtain 'data' from officials of the Party
Leningrad organisation rather than from officials in Moscow:
(Vladimir Dedijer: 'Tito Speaks: His Self-Portrait and Struggle with
Stalin'; London; 1953; p. 322).
"At the occasion of his last visit to the USSR, Comrade Djilas, while
sojourning in Moscow, went for a couple of days to Leningrad, where he
talked with Soviet comrades. . . . Comrade Djilas has abstained from collecting
data from officials of the USSR, but he did so from local officials in
In this connection, Robert Conquest points out:
In September 1946 a book was published in Moscow by
the Hungarian-born economist Evgeny VARGA, Director of the Institute of
World Economy and World Politics. It was entitled 'Changes in the Economy
of Capitalism as a Result of the Second World War'.
What did Comrade Djilas do there, what data did
he collect? We have not considered it necessary to busy ourselves with
such queries. We suppose he has not collected data there for the Anglo-American
or the French Intelligence Services".
(Central Committee, Communist Party of the Soviet Union: Letter to
CC, CPY (4 May 1948), in: 'Correspondence of the Central Committee of the
Communist Party of Yugoslavia and the Central Committee of the All-Union
Communist Party (Bolsheviks)'; Belgrade; 1948; p. 42).
The book incorporated a number of revisionist theses:
Firstly, it failed to deal with economic and political questions
Varga's book was naturally heavily criticised by economists
loyal to Marxism-Leninism on these questions. For example, in May 1947,
Secondly, it declared that 'state capitalism' prevailed in the
People's Democracies established in Eastern Europe after the Second World
War, and that these states were of 'relatively small significance in world
Thirdly, it presented the state in monopoly capitalist countries
as the machinery of rule of monopoly capital only 'in normal times', while
in times of national emergency, such as war, it was 'the machinery of rule
of the capitalist class as a whole';
Fourthly, it fostered the view that nationalisation measures
in modern capitalist countries were analogous to the socialist measures
carried out in the People's Democracies of Eastern Europe;
Fifthly, it fostered the view that, in modern capitalist countries,
the working class 'could gradually increase its influence in the state
apparatus until it had secured the dominant position within it';
Sixthly, it painted a picture of relations between modern imperialist
countries and colonial-type countries which implied that the former relations
of exploitation of the latter by the former had been "reversed';
Seventhly, it expressed the view that wartime changes in modern
capitalist countries made 'state economic planning' possible in those countries;
Eighthly, it did not base itself on the deepening general crisis
Ninthly, it expressed the view that in the post-war world the
contradictions between imperialism and the Soviet Union would be 'greatly
reduced', so that Lenin's proposition that war was inevitable under imperialism
was no longer valid.
THE CRITICISM OF VARGA'S BOOK (1947-49)
". . . was subject to extensive criticism in a series of specially
convened meetings of the Economics Institute of the Academy of Sciences
and the Economics Department of Moscow University".
(R. S.: 'The Discussions on E. Varga's Book on Capitalist War Economy',
in: 'Soviet Studies', Volume 1, No. I (June 1949); p. 33).
"the May Discussion . . . was conducted in good spirit and in a dignified
at this time Varga was willing to make only one minor
admission of error -- on the character of the People's Democracies:
(Evsey D. Domar: 'The Varga Controversy', in: 'American Economic Review',
Volume 49, No. 1 (March 1950); p. 149).
"If you were to ask me whether I consider it necessary to change any
theoretical proposition . . . (except the treatment of the question concerning
the character of people's democracy) I would have to reply. comrades --
"No". And those reviews that I have seen also have not convinced me in
the slightest that any of my fundamental theoretical propositions need
Five months later, in October 1947,
(Evgeny S. Varga: Statement at May 1947 Discussion Meeting, in: 'Soviet
Views on the Post-War World Economy: An Official Critique of Evgeny Varga's
"Changes in the Economy of Capitalism resulting from the Second World War"';
Washington; 1948; p. 2-3).
"Varga's Institute of World Economy was liquidated".
In October 1948,
('A Soviet Economist falls from Grace'. in: 'Fortune', Volume 37 March
1948; p. 5).
". . . an augmented session of the Learned Council of the Academy of
Sciences, with the participation of scholars, educators and representatives
of government ministers, convened". (Philip J. Jaffe: 'The Rise and Fall
of American Communism'; New York; 1975; p. 111-12).
The main item on the agenda was a further critical discussion
on Varga's book.
Konstantin OSTROVITIANOV, the Director of the Economics
Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences, denounced the work as 'un-Marxist':
"The series of works published in recent years on questions of the
economics and politics of capitalist countries contain gross anti-Marxist
errors and distortions. . . .
Varga, however, still refused to admit more than two
errors in his work:
These books were severely and justly criticised
in the pages of the Soviet press. The criticism revealed systematic errors
of a reformist nature in these books. . . .
Mistakes of a reformist nature also found reflection
in the magazine 'World Economy and World Politics', of which Varga was
Comrade Varga, who headed this un-Marxist trend,
and some of his fellow-travellers, have not yet made admissions of their
mistakes. . . . Such a non-Party attitude towards criticism leads to new
theoretical and political errors".
(Konstantin Ostrovitianov: 'Concerning Shortcomings and Tasks of Research
Work in the Field of Economics', in: 'Current Digest of the Soviet Press',
Volume 1, No. 6 (8 March 1949); p. 5-6).
"The separation of economics from politics was erroneous. . . .
In closing the discussion, Ostrovitianov commented:
In 1947 Voznesensky published a book entitled 'War Economy
of the USSR in the Period of the Patriotic War' which, like Varga's book,
put forward some revisionist theses -- including that put forward in the
1943 'Under the Banner of Marxism' editorial.
I erred when I said that state capitalism prevailed
in the economy of the people's democracies. . . .
I cannot follow the advice and admit all the criticism
of my work to be correct. . . . There are things I cannot admit".
(Evgeny' Varga: Contribution to October 1948 Discussion, in: 'Current
Digest of the Soviet Press', Volume 1, No. 11 (12 April 1949); p. 17, 18).
Firstly, it asserted that a socialist economic
plan was equivalent to an economic law:
"It is essential to note the . . . specific features of the state economic
plan . . . that convert it into the law of the economic development of
the USSR. . . .
As the New Zealand-born economist Ronald MEEK states,
The state plan has the force of a law of economic
Socialist planning . . . is in itself a social law
(Nikolai A. Voznesensky: 'War Economy of the USSR in the Period of
the Patriotic War'; Moscow; 1948; p. 115, 120).
" . . . comes very close indeed to a virtual identification of
'economic law' under socialism with government economic policy".
Secondly, it favoured the concept that the state
planning authorities should base the distribution of production resources
in the economy on the law of value:
(Ronald L. Meek: 'Studies in the Labour Theory of Value'; London; 1956;
"The state plan in the Soviet economic system makes use of the law
of value to set the necessary proportions in the production and distribution
of social labour and the social product. . . .
Thirdly, it favoured a relaxation of the principle
that socialist economic' planning should give priority to the production
of means of production. The chapter headed 'Post-War Socialist Economy'
The law of value operates . . . in the distribution
of labour among the various branches of the Soviet Union's national economy.
. . . The state plan makes use of the law of value to ensure the proper
apportionment of social labour among the various branches of the economy".
(Nikolai A. Voznesensky: op. cit.; p. 117, 118).
". . . the increase of the portion of the social product earmarked
In spite of these revisionist deviations the book was,
in general, favourably reviewed and, in 1948, was awarded a Stalin Prize.
(Nikolai A. Voznesensky: ibid.; p. 147).
The Australian economist Bruce McFARLANE points out
that Vosnesensky's economic theories were put into effect by the revisionists
in the 'economic reforms' which followed Stalin's death:
"M. I. Rodionov, the young Russian nationalist leader, publicly linked
his campaign for reform in the Russian Republic with the cult of Leningrad".
As a part of this campaign, in 1948 the group around
(William 0. McCagg, Junior: op. cit.; P. 275).
". . . that the capital of the Russian Republic be transferred from
Moscow to Leningrad, and that the republic's Party headquarters be moved
to the northern city as well. The advocates of that move were Rodionov
and VLASOV, respectively chairmen of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister
- Ed.) and of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet (President -Ed.) of the
In 1948 Pyotr POPKOV, First Secretary of both the Leningrad
Regional and City Committees of the Party, proposed to Nikolay Voznesensky
(Peter Deriabin: 'Watchdogs of Terror: Russian Bodyguards from the
Tsars to the Commissars'; Bethesda (USA); 1984; p. 312).
. . . that he should 'patronise' (i.e., pay special attention
to satisfying the needs of - Ed.) Leningrad".
Voznesensky did not inform the Central Committee of
(Political Archives of the Soviet Union', Volume 1, No. 2 (1990) (hereafter
listed as 'Political Archives' (1990); p. 154).
The Soviet Marxist-Leninists saw these proposals
as a move to make the Communist Party in the Russian Republic the centre
of an anti-Party, anti-socialist conspiracy.
THE COUNTRY-WIDE ECONOMIC REFORM (1949)
In January 1949, the group around Voznesensky felt in
a strong enough position to introduce on a country-wide scale the 'economic
reforms' proposed by Voznesensky -- in particular, the close relation of
the wholesale prices of commodities to their value - which would prepare
the ground for making profit the regulator of production:
"On January 12 1949, wholesale prices were raised very considerably".
The 'reform' was described as Voznesensky's
(Peter J. D. Wiles: 'The Political Economy of Communism'; Oxford; 1962;
" . . . swinging reduction of subsidies".
It must be noted that
(Archie Brown (Ed.): 'The Soviet Union: A Biographical Dictionary';
London; 1990; p. 43).
" . . Voznesensky suggested that an international fair be staged in
As a result, on 10-20 January 1949 an All-Russia Wholesale
Fair was held in
(Peter Deriabin: op. cit.; p. 313).
On 13 January 1949, after the fair had opened, the
Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Mikhail Rodionov,
". . . sent MALENKOV, Secretary of the Central Committee, a message
saying that an All-Russia Wholesale Fair had opened in Leningrad and that
trading organisations from other Soviet republics were participating".
Georgi Malenkov circulated Rodionov's message to Lavrenti
BERIA, Nikolai Voznesensky and Anastas Mikoyan, writing on it:
By now the Marxist-Leninist members of the Politburo
of the Central Committee of the CPSU were satisfied that leading Party
members in Leningrad were involved in a conspiracy aimed at diverting
the Party's policy away from Marxist-Leninist principles and at driving
a wedge between the Leningrad Party and the Central Committee.
(Mikhail Rodionov: Message to Georgi Malenkov, 13 January 1949, in:
'Political Archives' (1990): op. cit.; p. 153).
On 15 February 1949, the Politburo adopted a resolution
"On the Anti-Party Actions of Comrades Aleksey A. Kuznetsov, Mikail I.
Rodionov and Pyotr S. Popkov'. The resolution strongly criticised the named
Party members for 'anti-state activities'.
The accusation was made in the resolution that
" . . . the All-Russia Wholesale Fair in Leningrad, organised by Kuznetsov,
Rodionov and Popkov, had resulted in a squandering of state commodity stocks
and in unjustifiable expenditures of resources".
The resolution further stated:
(Political Archives' (1990): ibid.; p. 153).
"The Politburo of the A-UCP (b) Central Committee considers that the
aforesaid anti-Party actions are a consequence of an unhealthy and non-Bolshevik
deviation of Comrades Kuznetsov, Rodionov and Popkov, reflected in their
demagogic flirting with the Leningrad organisation, their disparaging of
the Central Committee, which allegedly does not assist the Leningrad organisation,
and in their trying to put themselves forward as some special champions
of Leningrad's interests, erect a wall between the Central Committee and
the Leningrad organisation, and thereby distance the Leningrad organisation
from the Party's Central Committee.
In this context, it should be noted that Comrade
Popkov, as First Secretary of the Leningrad Regional and City Committees
of the Party, . . . is embarking on the road of circumventing the Party's
Central Committee. . . .
It is in the same light that we should consider
the proposal, of which the Central Committee has just learned from Comrade
Voznesensky, that he should 'patronise' Leningrad. . . .
The Politburo of the Central Committee considers
that such non-Party methods must be nipped in the bud, for they express
anti-Party group tactics, breed mistrust in relations between the Leningrad
Regional Committee and the Central Committee, and could result in the Leningrad
organisation breaking away from the Party. . . .
The Central Committee points out that when he tried
to turn the Leningrad organisation into a bastion of his anti-Leninist
faction, ZINOVIEV resorted to the same anti-Party methods of playing up
to the Leningrad organisation, disparaging the Central Committee, which
allegedly did not care about the needs of Leningrad, detaching the Leningrad
organisation from the Party".
('Political Archives' (1990): ibid.; p. 153-54).
". . . decided to dismiss Rodionov, Kuznetsov and Popkov from their
jobs, and handed down Party reprimands to them".
Voznesensky was also reprimanded:
On 21 February 1949,
('Political Archives' (1990): op. cit.; p. 153).
"Malenkov was briefed by Stalin and despatched to Leningrad. Malenkov
was to 'go there and take a good look at what's going on Malenkov left
by train that very night.
On 22 February 1949,
On 5 March 1949,
The 'signals' coming from Leningrad alleged that,
with the connivance of Central Committee Secretary A. A. Kuznetsov, the
local Party boss (Popkov -- Ed.) was not taking notice of the central party
(Dmitri Volkogonov: "Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy'; London; 1991; p.
". . . the Bureau of the USSR Council of Ministers adopted a draft
decision 'On the State Planning Committee', which included Stalin's phrase
to the effect that 'an attempt to doctor figures to fit this or that prejudiced
opinion is a criminal offence"'.
By decision of the USSR Council of Ministers on the
In March 1949, Varga felt compelled to write a letter
to the Party newspaper 'Pravda' (Truth) denying foreign press reports that
he was 'of Western orientation':
In April 1949, Varga published in 'Voprosy ekonomiki'
(Problems of Economics) a long article admitting the justice of most of
the criticisms made of his book:
('Political Archives' (1990): op. cit.; p. 155).
"My book 'Changes in the Economy of Capitalism as a Result of the Second
World War' was severely criticised, as is well known, in the Party press
and in scholarly discussions. A large number of other works of the former
Institute of World Economy and World Politics, published after the war,
likewise were severely criticised. As director of that institute, I was
responsible for these works. This criticism was necessary and correct.
My mistake was that I did not recognise at once the correctness of this
criticism. But better late than never. . . .
Varga admitted that these errors were particularly dangerous
because they were reformist departures from Marxism-Leninism
My prolonged delay in admitting the mistakes disclosed
by the criticism undoubtedly was harmful. . . .
Honourably to admit mistakes made; to analyse their
causes thoroughly in order to avoid them in the future -- this is precisely
what Lenin considered the only correct approach, both for Communist parties
and for individual comrades. . . .
There is no doubt that in this respect I did not
act with wisdom". (Evgeny S.Varga: 'Against the Reformist Tendency in Works
on Imperialism , in: 'Current Digest of the Soviet Press', Volume 1, No.
19 (7 June 1949) (hereafter listed as 'Evgeny Varga (1949)'; p. 3, 9).
"These errors constitute a whole chain of errors of a reformist
tendency, in toto signifying a departure from a Leninist-Stalinist
evaluation of modern imperialism.
and because they related to the evaluation of the nature
of the bourgeois state:
It goes without saying that mistakes of a reformist
tendency also signify mistakes of a cosmopolitan tendency, because
they paint capitalism in rosy colours.
Every reformist mistake, every infringement of the
purity of MarxistLeninist teachings, is especially dangerous in present
(Evgeny S. Varga (1949): ibid.; p. 3).
"All mistakes of a reformist tendency in respect of the bourgeois state
. . . lend support to the counter-revolutionary, reformist deception
of the working class. . . .
Varga agreed with his critics that the fundamental reason
for his chain of reformist errors was his incorrect attempt to separate
economics from politics:
The mistakes in my book, disclosed by the criticism,
have all the greater significance in that they principally concern questions
on the evaluation of the role and character of the bourgeois state".
(Evgeny S. Varga (1949): ibid.; p. 3, 4).
"The fundamental reason for this (chain of errors - Ed.), as my critics
correctly established, was the methodologically erroneous separation
of economics from politics. . . .
In particular, admitted Varga. this incorrect methodology
led to his incorrect characterisation of the state under monopoly capitalism
as, in 'normal' times, the machinery of rule of the capitalist class
as a whole, and not as the machinery of rule of monopoly capital:
Mistakes of a reformist tendency inevitably proceed
from a departure from the Marxist-Leninist dialectical method, which demands
a many-sided study of all phenomena under analysis and their mutual relationships.
When an attempt is made (as in my case and that
of a number of other authors of the former Institute of World Economy and
World Politics) to analyse the economy of capitalism 'outside of politics',
this departure from the Marxist-Leninist method leads inevitably, unintentionally,
to mistakes of a reformist tendency. . . .
My book is methodologically incorrect in divorcing
the analysis of economics from politics". (Evgeny S. Varga (1949): ibid.;
p. 4, 8).
"There is no doubt that I was in error in characterising the modern
state as 'an organisation of the bourgeoisie as a whole' rather than, as
it should be characterised, as a state of the financial oligarchy".
It was this failure to make clear
(Evgeny S. Varga (1949): ibid.; p. 4-5).
". . . the consolidation of the union of the state apparatus with the
financial oligarchy during the war",
declared Varga, which had led him to suggest that the
proletariat could gradually increase its influence in the state apparatus
until the point was reached where it had the decisive role in the state.
Quoting from his book, Varga admitted:
(Evgeny S. Varga (1949): ibid.; P. 5).
"These lines would win the applause of any reformist. . . .
Varga also now accepted that the characterisation he
gave in his book of the nature of nationalisation in modern capitalist
countries was erroneous:
The question of state power is a question of the
correlation of class forces, and can be resolved only in class struggle".
(Evgeny S. Varga (1949): ibid.; p. 5).
"The incorrect characterisation which I gave of nationalistion in
England follows these same lines. It goes without saying nationalisation
of the important branches of the economy represents further consolidation
of state capitalism. . . .
A similar fundamental error, admitted Varga, led to
In view of the class character of the state, nationalisation
in England does not signify progress in the direction of democracy of a
(Evgeny S. Varga (1949): ibid.; p. 6, 7).
". . . the incorrect evaluation of the changes in relations between
England and India. . . .
Was England really transformed into the creditor of India? . . . In amount
of capital, India is England's creditor, but in income from capital England
is even now the exploiter of India".
Varga confirmed his earlier admission of error in characterising
the People's Democracies of Eastern Europe both as 'state capitalist' and
now also as of 'relatively small' significance:
(Evgeny S. Varga (1949): ibid.; p. 7).
"The break off of these countries (the People's Democracies -- Ed.)
from the imperialist system was undoubtedly one of the most important social-economic
results of the second world war and signifies a deepening of the general
crisis of capitalism. . . .
He also now accepted that he had been in error in asserting
that genuine state economic planning could occur in modern capitalist countries:
It was incorrect to assert . . . that state capitalism
predominates in these countries. It was especially incorrect to evaluate
their significance as 'relatively small"'.
(Evgeny S. Varga (1949): ibid.; p. 8, 9).
"I made these mistakes worse by the assertion that since the
war 'something in the way of a unique "state plan" had appeared in certain
capitalist countries'. I must admit that all my assertions concerning the
question of 'planning under capitalism' are a great retreat from my correct
position in 1935. . .
Finally, Varga agreed that he had been seriously wrong
in paying little attention to the intensification of the general crisis
A still more resolute struggle must be carried on
against the mendacious propaganda conducted by the reformists for a planned
economy under capitalism".
(Evgeny S. Varga (1949): ibid.; p. 8).
"The fact that the book did not take up the question of the deepening
of the general crisis of capitalism has tremendous importance. This inevitably
caused the reader to imagine that the world war did not reflect the deepening
of the crisis. . . . The absence of problems concerning the general
crisis of capitalism is a serious mistake".
Thus, Varga had now admitted that all the theses for
which he had been criticised were incorrect, except for his thesis that
wars were no longer inevitable under imperialism.
(Evgeny S. Varga (1949): ibid.; p. 9).
THE CC RESOLUTION ON VOZNESENSKY'S BOOK (1949)
On 14 July 1949, the Central Committee of the CPSU adopted
a resolution declaring that
". . . the editors of 'Bolshevik' made a serious mistake in offering
the pages of the magazine for servile glorification of N. Voznesensky's
book 'The War Economy of the USSR in the Period of the Patriotic War"'.
and took the decision
(Resolution of CC, CPSU (14 July 1949), in: 'Current Digest of the
Soviet Press', Volume 4, No. 50 (24 January 1952); p 15).
". to remove Comrade F. N. FEDOSEYEV from the post of editor-in-chief
of the magazine 'Bolshevik"'.
Although unable to prevent the dismissal (and later
trial) of Voznesensky, the concealed revisionists in leading positions
in the CPSU were strong enough to prevent publication of this resolution.
(Resolution of CC, CPSU (14 July 1949), in: 'Current Digest of the
Soviet Press', Volume 4, No. 50 (24 January 1952); p 15).
" . . . it was not until December 1952 that any reference whatever
was again made to Voznesensky".
This was a few days before (on 13 January 1952) the
Marxist-Leninists launched their public exposure of the revisionist plot
to murder Andrei ZHDANOV and Aleksandr SHCHERBAKOV by criminally incorrect
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 155).
In July 1949,
THE MISSING DOCUMENTS (1949)
" . E. E. ANDREYEV who was appointed to the USSR Planning Committee
as an authorised representative of the Central Committee responsible for
personnel, submitted a memo . . . alleging that the Planning Committee
had lost some of its documents between 1944 and 1949".
The matter was referred to the Party Central Committee,
('Political Archives (1990): op. cit.; p. 155).
" . . . prepared a memorandum 'On Voznesensky's Un-Party Behaviour',
alleging that the Planning Committee had reduced industrial plans, that
departmental tendencies had been exposed and wrong personnel employed at
the Planning Committee, and that Vozesensky had maintained ties with the
anti-Party group in Leningrad".
On 9 September 1949, the Party Control Commission submitted
to Malenkov its recommendation
In the autumn of 1949,
(Political Archives (1990): op. cit.; p. 155).
". . . removed from all his posts, Nikolay Alekseyevich (Voznesensky
-- Ed.) sat at home and continued to work on 'The Political Economy of
Communism"'. (G. Petrovichev: 'He Kept His Vow', in: 'Current Digest of
the Soviet Press', Volume 15, No. 47 (18 December 1963); p. 12).
On 13 August 1949,
The work developed Voznesensky's ideas about
"harnessing the 'socialist profit' motive'".
(Bruce J. McFarlane: op. cit.; P. 162).
THE ARRESTS (1949)
"Kuznetsov, Popkov, Rodionov, Lazutin were arrested in Malenkov's study
in Moscow". ('Political Archives' (1990): op. cit.; p. 155).
and on 27 October 1949,
On 13 January 1950 the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet
". . . personally supervised the investigation and took part in the
(Political Archives' (1990): op. cit.; p. 155).
". . . was launched in Leningrad to replace officials at all levels.
On 26 September 1950, the indictment was published in
what came to be known as 'the Leningrad Affair'. The defendants were Voznesensky,
Kusnetsov, Rodionov, Popkov, Kapustin, and four others.
More than 2,000 leading officials . . . were dismissed
from their jobs in Leningrad and the region in 1949-52".
(Political Archives' (1990): op. cit.; p. 156).
THE INDICTMENT (1950)
(Political Archives' (1990): op. cit. p. 151).
" . . . were all charged with having set up an anti-Party group to
conduct sabotage and subversion aimed at detaching the Leningrad Party
organisation and setting it against the Party's Central Committee and turning
it into a bastion to fight the Party and its Central Committee".
The trial of the defendants in the 'Leningrad Affair'
('Political Archives' (1990): op. cit.; p. 152).
THE TRIAL (1950)
" . . . took place in September 1950 at Officers' House on Liteiny
Boulevard in Leningrad". (Dmitri Volkogonov: op. cit.; p. 522 (citing 'Central
State Archives of the October Revolution', f. 7,523, op. 107, d. 261, 1.
According to the official record of the trial, as quoted
by the Supreme Court of the USSR in April 1957:
"The accused pleaded guilty to having formed an anti-Soviet group in
1938, carrying out diversionary activity in the Party aimed at undermining
the Central Committee organisation in Leningrad and turning it into a base
for operations against the Party and its Central Committee. . . . To this
end. . . . they spread slanderous allegations and uttered traitorous plots.
. . . They also sold off state property.
All the accused were found guilty. Voznosensky, Kuznetsov,
Rodionov, Popkov, Kapustin and one other were sentenced to death. The other
defendants were sentenced to terms of imprisonment of from 10 to 15 years.
. As the documents show, all the accused fully confessed
to these changes at the preliminary investigation and in court".
(Dmitri Volkogonov: ibid.; p. 522, citing 'Central State Archives of
the October Revolution', f. 7,523, op. 107, d. 261, 1. 13-15).
The death sentences were carried out on 1 October
THE HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF STALIN'S 'ECONOMIC
PROBLEMS OF SOCIALISM IN THE USSR'
As long ago as 1940 or 1941, Stalin had proposed the
preparation of a new textbook of political economy to cover the political
economy of socialism:
THE PREPARATION OF A NEW TEXTBOOK ON POLITICAL ECONOMY (1940-52)
"In 1940 or 1941 . . . in an unpublished statement, Stalin urged economic
theorists to work out a textbook on Soviet economics". (Vsevolod Holubnychy:
'Soviet Debates on Economic Theories: An Introduction', in Harry G. Shaffer
(Ed.): op cit.; p.344).
However, the German attack upon the Soviet Union in
June 1941 held up serious work on the preparation of the new textbook,
". . . it was not until 1951 that a group of senior economists was
finally directed to write the first draft of a textbook on Soviet economics".
and a conference
(Vsevolod Holubnychy: 'Soviet Debates on Economic Theories: An Introduction',
in: Harry G. Shaffer (Ed.): ibid.; p. 344).
" . . . of those concerned with the new textbook was convened in November
The materials of the conference were sent to Stalin,
who wrote on the issues raised some 'Remarks', which were circulated --
privately at first -among economists, some of whom, in turn, wrote and
circulated criticisms of Stalin's 'Remarks':
Over the years, the Marxist-Leninists in the leadership
of the CPSU, headed by Stalin, were engaged in a continuing struggle against
spurious Marxism-Leninism - revisionism. Stalin referred to this struggle
many times, admitting that the revisionist forces had not been entirely
unsuccessful in the field of ideology:
(Timothy Dunmore: op. cit.; p. 111).
"The source of this 'frame of mind', the soil on which it has arisen
in the Party, is the growth of bourgeois influence on the Party, in the
conditions of . . . the desperate struggle between the capitalist and socialist
elements in our national economy. The capitalist elements are fighting
not only in the economic sphere; they are trying to carry the fight into
the sphere of proletarian ideology, . . . and it cannot be said that their
efforts have been entirely fruitless".
Over the years, the still concealed revisionists in
leading positions in the Soviet Party and state were able, slowly but steadily,
to increase their own influence and reduce that of the Marxist-Leninists.
(Josef V. Stalin: 'Questions and Answers' (June 1925), in: 'Works',
Volume 7; Moscow; 1954; p. 166-67).
Until 1927, Stalin made numerous contributions to
the decisions and work of the Communist International. After 1927, the
concealed revisionists succeeded in stopping these contributions. In order
to try to accommodate this fact to the revisionist myth that Stalin exerted
dictatorial powers both in the CPSU and the Comintern, the false story
was spread that
" . . . Stalin did not share Lenin's commitment to the idea of the
Communist International". (Robert H. McNeal: 'Stalin: "Man and Ruler';
Basingstoke; 1988; p. 218).
Although the Central Committee of the CPSU had announced
in 1946 the publication of Stalin's 'Works' in 16 volumes, in 1949 publication
in the Soviet Union was halted at Volume 13, covering the period only to
(Preface to: Josef V. Stalin: 'Works', Volume 1;
Moscow; 1952; p. xi-xiv).
In October 1952, the revisionists succeeded in demoting
Stalin from the position of General Secretary of the Central Committee
of the CPSU to that of one of several Secretaries:
"On April 3 1922 the Plenum of the Central Committee, on V. I. Lenin's
motion, elected Stalin as General Secretary of the Party; Stalin served
in this post until October 1952, and from then until the end of his life
he was Secretary of the Central Committee". ('Entsiklopedichesky slovar'
(Encyclopaedic Dictionary), Volume 3; Moscow; 1955; p. 310).
This limitation of Stalin's influence was concealed
to some extent by the 'cult of personality' which the concealed revisionist
conspirators had built up around Stalin. Nevertheless, it was noted by
the more astute analysts:
"Stalin ceased to be General Secretary of the Central Committee.
He had lost all those special powers which . . . set him apart from the
other members of the Central Committee Secretariat".
(Boris Nikolaevky: 'Power and the Soviet Elite'; New York; 1965; p.
"In 1950 and 1951 Stalin's power was limited".
and continued until Stalin became virtually what the
American William McCAGG, Junior calls 'the Prisoner in the Kremlin':
(William 0. McCagg, Junior: op. cit.; p. 307).
"The reports from the (US-- Ed.) Moscow Embassy strongly fostered the
'prisoner' image of Stalin at this time".
THESE WERE THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH THE CONCEALED
REVISIONISTS WERE ABLE TO FORCE THROUGH THE DECISION THAT THE LEADING ROLE
AT THE FORTHCOMING 19th CONGRESS OF THE CPSU, FIXED TO OPEN ON 3 OCTOBER
1952, SHOULD BE PLAYED NOT BY THE FIRM MARXIST-LENINIST STALIN, BUT BY
SECRETARY GEORGI MALENKOV -NOT A REVISIONIST CONSPIRATOR BUT A FIGURE WHOM
THEY CALCULATED, CORRECTLY, THAT THEY COULD USE AS AN UNWITTING TOOL IN
THE NEXT STAGE OF THEIR CONSPIRACY TO TURN THE PARTY FROM THE PATH OF THE
CONSTRUCTION AND DEFENCE OF SOCIALISM:
(William 0. McCagg, Junior: ibid.; p. 382).
"In a break with a long tradition going back to the twenties, it was
not Stalin who presented the Central Committee report, nor did he take
part in the deliberations".
IN THESE DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES, THE SOVIET MARXIST-LENINISTS
DECIDED TO STRIKE A BLOW AGAINST REVISIONISM BY PUBLISHING, ON THE VERY
EVE OF THE CONGRESS, STALIN'S CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE DISCUSSION ON THE DRAFT
TEXTBOOK ON POLITICAL ECONOMY:
(Gabor T. Ritterspoorn: 'Stalinist Simplification and Soviet Complications:
Social Tensions and Political Conflicts in the USSR: 19331953'; Reading;
1991; p. 219).
"Stalin himself sat at a separate tribune during the proceedings and
said nothing, apart from the brief concluding speech".
(Robert H. McNeil: op. cit.; p. 209).
"Stalin sat in total isolation. . . . He appeared at the congress only
at the opening and closing sessions".
(Dmitri Volkogonov: op. cit.; p. 568).
STALIN'S 'ECONOMIC PROBLEMS OF SOCIALISM IN THE USSR' (1952)
Thus, at the Congress, in spite of Stalin's demotion
. . . the star role, and the only important one, was played by Stalin
and it was played not at the congress but before it opened. . . .
This article will not attempt a detailed analysis of
This Stalin achieved by issuing, a few days before
the delegates met in Moscow, a new 'master work'. . . It completely stole
the thunder of the Congress, as it was obviously intended to do".
(Harrison Salisbury: 'Stalin's Russia and After'; London; 1955; p.
"'Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR' was given to the world
on October 3 and 4, filling two entire issues of 'Pravda'. And on October
5 the 19th Congress of the CPSU opened".
(Adam B. Ulam: 'Stalin: The Man and His Era'; London; 1989; p. 731).
IT WILL MERELY SUMMARISE ITS CENTRAL THEME, IN WHICH
The first part of Stalin's 'Economic Problems of Socialism
in the USSR', dated 1 February 1952, consisted of Stalin's contribution
to the discussion on the draft textbook on political economy.
Its most important points were:
Firstly, in opposition to Leontiev, Voznesensky
and others -- (see pages above on 1, 7) -- it affirmed the objective
character of economic laws under socialism:
"Some comrades deny the objective character of laws of science, and
the laws of political economy particularly, under socialism. They deny
that the laws of political economy reflect law-governed processes which
operate independently of the will of man. They believe that in view of
the specific role assigned to the Soviet state by history, the Soviet state
and its leaders can abolish existing laws of political economy and can
'form', 'create', new laws.
As the British economist Peter WILES points out:
These comrades are profoundly mistaken. It is evident
that they confuse laws of science, which reflect objective processes in
nature or society, processes which take place independently of the will
of man, with the laws which are issued by governments, which are made by
the will of man. . . . But they must not be confused.
Marxism regards laws of science -- whether they
be laws of natural science or laws of political economy -- as the reflection
of objective processes which take place independently of the will of man.
Man may discover these laws, get to know them, study them, reckon with
them in his activities, and utilise them in the interests of society, but
he cannot change or abolish them".
(Josef V. Stalin: 'Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR' (February-September
1952) (hereafter listed as 'Josef V. Stalin (1952)', in: 'Works', Volume
16; London; 1986; p. 289-90).
"This is clearly a blow at Voznesensky".
Secondly, in opposition to Voznesensky and others
-- see page 7 -- it denied that the law of value should exert a regulating
influence on a socialist economy:
(Peter J. D. Wiles: op. cit.; p. 106).
"The sphere of operation of the law of value in our country is strictly
limited. . . . The law of value cannot under our system function as the
regulator of production. . . .
Thirdly, in opposition to Varga and others (see
above, page 5), it maintained that since the Second World War the general
crisis of world capitalism had deepened:
Totally incorrect, too, is the assertion that under
our present economic system . . . the law of value regulates the 'proportions'
of labour directed among the various branches of production.
If this were true, it would be incomprehensible
why our light industries, which are the most profitable, are not being
developed to the utmost, and why preference is given to our heavy industries,
which are often less profitable and sometimes altogether unprofitable.
. . .
If this were true. . . ., we should have to cease
to give primacy to the production of means of production in favour of the
production of articles of consumption. . . . The effect would be to destroy
the possibility of continuous expansion of our national economy. . . .
The law of value can be a regulator of production
only under capitalism".
(Josef V. Stalin (1952): ibid.; p. 313, 315-16).
"The disintegration of the single, all-embracing world market must
be regarded as the most important economic sequel of the Second World War
and of its economic consequences. It has had the effect of further deepening
the general crisis of the world capitalist system".
Fourthly, in opposition to Varga and others (see
page 5, 14), it maintained that war would continue to be inevitable
as long as imperialism existed:
(Josef V. Stalin (1952): ibid.; p. 324).
"Some comrades hold that, owing to the development of new international
conditions since the Second World War, wars between capitalist countries
have ceased to be inevitable. ...
Fifthly, it suggested rough drafts for basic
economic laws of modern capitalism and of socialism.
These comrades are mistaken. . . .
The inevitability of wars between capitalist countries
remains in force. ....
To eliminate the inevitability of war, it is necessary
to abolish imperialism".
(Josef V. Stalin (1952): ibid.; p. 327, 331, 332).
"The main features and requirements of the basic economic law of modern
capitalism might be formulated roughly in this way: the securing of the
maximum capitalist profit. . . .
Sixthly, it criticised
The second part of Stalin's 'Economic Problems of Socialism
in the USSR', dated 21 April 1952, consisted of Stalin's reply to a critical
letter from the economist Aleksandr NOTKIN.
The essential features and requirements of the basic
law of socialism might be formulated roughly in this way: the securing
of the maximum satisfaction of the constantly rising material and cultural
requirements of the whole of society through the continuous expansion and
perfection of socialist production on the basis of higher techniques".
(Josef V. Stalin (1952): ibid.; p. 334, 337).
Its most important point was that 'under socialism
means of production are not commodities' ;
"Means of production are not 'sold' to any purchaser, they are not
'sold' even to collective farms; they are only allocated by the state to
its enterprises. . . . Directors of enterprises who receive means of production
from the Soviet state, far from becoming their owners, are deemed to be
the agents of the state in the utilisation of the means of production in
accordance with the plans established by the state.
except in the field of foreign trade:
The third part of Stalin's 'Economic Problems of Socialism
in the USSR', dated 22 May 1952, consisted of Stalin's response to a criticism
from an economist named L. D. Yaroshenko, who complained that the first
part of Stalin's 'Economic Problems' contained
Under our system means of production can certainly
not be classed in the category of commodities".
(Josef V. Stalin (1952): ibid.; p. 350-51).
" . . . no reflection whatever",
of his (Yaroshenko's - Ed.) opinion.
(Josef V. Stalin (1952): ibid.; p. 358).
In his reply, Stalin stated bluntly that the reason
for this omission was
". . . Comrade Yaroshenko's opinion . . . is un-Marxian -- and, hence,
In this section Stalin makes the following principal
(Josef V. Stalin (1952): ibid.; p. 358).
Firstly, that the relations of production
do not always function as a brake on the development of the productive
"It is not true . . . that the role of the relations of production
in the history of society has been confined to that of a brake, a fetter,
on the development of the productive forces".
In fact, the relations of production at some periods
function as a brake on the development of the productive forces, and at
other periods as mainspring impelling them forward:
(Josef V. Stalin (1952): ibid.; p. 361).
"This peculiar development of the relations of production from the
role of a brake on the productive forces to that of the principal mainspring
impelling them forward, and from the role of principal mainspring to that
of a brake on the productive forces, constitutes one of the chief elements
of the Marxian materialist dialectic. Every novice in Marxism knows that
nowadays. But Comrade Yaroshenko, it appears, does not know it".
Even under socialism, Stalin points out, there are contradictions
arise between the relations of production and the productive forces:
(Josef V. Stalin (1952): ibid.; p. 363).
"Comrade Yaroshenko is mistaken when he asserts that there is no contradiction
between the relations of production and the productive forces of society
under socialism. Of course, our present relations of production are in
a period when they fully conform to the growth of the productive forces,
and help to advance them at seven-league strides. But . 0 . there certainly
are, and will be, contradictions, seeing that the development of the relations
of production lags, and will lag, behind the development of the productive
forces. Given a correct policy on the part of the directing bodies, these
contradictions cannot grow into antagonisms. . . . It would be a different
matter if we were to conduct a wrong policy, such as that which Comrade
Secondly, that under socialism the relations
of production are not a component part of the productive forces:
(Josef V. Stalin (1952): ibid.; p. 369-70).
""It is not true . . . that the production . .. relations lose their
independent role under socialism, that they are absorbed by the productive
If this were so, Stalin points out, we should have
(Josef V. Stalin (1952): ibid.; p. 363).
". . . a socialist system without an economic foundation. A rather
funny situation. . "
Thirdly, that the political economy of socialism
cannot be reduced to the rational organisation of the productive forces:
(Josef V. Stalin (1952): ibid.; p. 366).
"Comrade Yaroshenko . . . reduces the problem of the Political Economy
of Socialism to the rational organisation of the productive forces, discarding
the production . . . relations and severing the productive forces from
Fourthly, that the transition from socialism
to communism requires more than a rational organisation of the productive
If we followed Comrade Yaroshenko, therefore, what
we would get is, instead of a Marxian Political Economy, something in the
nature of Bogdanov's 'Universal Organising Science"'.
(Josef V. Stalin (1952): ibid.; p. 364-65).
"Comrade Yaroshenko thinks that we have only to ensure a rational organisation
of the productive forces, and we shall be able to obtain an abundance of
products and to pass to communism, to pass from the formula 'to each according
to his work' to the formula 'to each according to his needs'. That is a
profound error. . . .
The rational organisation of the productive forces,
economic planning, etc., are not problems of political economy, but problems
of the economic policy of the directing bodies. They are two different
provinces, which must not be confused. . . . Political economy investigates
the laws of development of man's relations of production. Economic policy
draws practical conclusions from this, gives them concrete shape and builds
its day to day work on them".
(Josef V. Stalin (1952): ibid.; p. 367-68).
". . . to pave the way for a real, and not declaratory transition
to communism, at least three main preliminary conditions have to be satisfied".
These conditions are:
(Josef V. Stalin (1952): ibid.; p. 368).
"1) . . . . Not a mythical 'rational organisation' of the productive
forces,* but a continuous expansion of all social production, with a relatively
higher rate of expansion of the production of means of production. . .
Yaroshenko objected to Stalin's proposed basic economic
law of socialism on the grounds that
2). . . . By means of gradual transitions . . . to raise collective
farm property to the level of public property and, also by means of gradual
transitions, to replace commodity circulation by a system of products exchange,
under which the central government, or some other social-economic centre,
might control the whole product of social production in the interests of
society. . . .
3). . . . To ensure such a cultural advancement of society as will
secure for all members of society the all-round development of their physical
and mental abilities".
(Josef V. Stalin (1952): ibid.; p. 368, 369, 371).
" . . . it is based not on the primacy of production, but on the primacy
To which Stalin replied:
(L. D. Yaroshenko: Letter to Politburo, CC, CPSU (20 March 1952), in:
Josef V. Stalin (1952): ibid.; p. 380).
"It would be wrong to speak of the primacy of consumption over production,
or of production over consumption, because production and consumption are
two entirely different spheres. . . . Comrade Yaroshenko obviously fails
to realise that what we are speaking of here is not the primacy of consumption
or of production, but of what aim society sets social production . . under
socialism. Comrade Yaroshenko forgets that men produce not for production's
sake, but in order to satisfy their needs. . . .
Stalin drew the following conclusions at the end of
Part Three of 'Economic Problems':
The fourth and final part of Stalin's 'Economic Problems
of Socialism in the USSR', dated 28 September 1952, consisted of Stalin's
response to a criticism from economists A. V. SANINA and Vladimir G. VENZHER.
With the disappearance of man as the aim of socialist
production, every vestige of Marxism disappears from Comrade Yaroshenko's
(Josef V. Stalin (1952): ibid.; P. 380-81, 383-84).
Firstly, in opposition to Sanina and Venzher,
Stalin repeated the point already made in Part One -- see page 21 -- affirming
the objective character of economic laws under socialism:
"Marxism holds that the laws of political economy of socialism are
a reflection in the minds of men of objective laws existing outside of
Secondly, also in opposition to Sanina and Venzher,
Stalin rejected the concept that collective farm property should be
raised to the level of public property by selling the basic means of production
(Josef V. Stalin (1952): ibid.; p. 391).
"The effect of selling the MTS's (Machine and Tractor Stations -- Ed.)
to the collective farms . . . would be to involve the collective farms
in heavy loss and to ruin them. . . .
In contrast, Stalin repeated the proposal made earlier
(see page 25) that collective farm property should gradually be raised
to the level of public property by bringing about a direct exchange of
products between the collective farms and state industry:
As has been said, the 19th Congress of the CPSU opened
on 3 October 1952 -- the day after publication Stalin's 'Economic Problems
of Socialism in the USSR' had been completed.
The collective farms would become the owners of
the basic instruments of production; that is, their status would be an
exceptional one . . . for . . . even the nationalised enterprises do not
own their own instruments of production. . . . Such a status could only
dig a deeper gulf between collective farm property and public property,
and would not bring us nearer to communism, but, on the contrary, remove
us farther from it".
(Josef V. Stalin (1952): ibid.; p. 399, 400).
Stalin's work dominated the proceedings and decisions
of the congress:
"In October 1952, the pro-heavy industry stance of Stalin's 'Economic
Problems of Socialism' . . . was once again enshrined as official policy.
The 'A' sector was to expand at 13% per annum over the fifth Five-Year
Plan period and the 'B' sector at 11%."
and in his report to the Congress, Secretary of the
CC Georgi Malenkov endorsed Stalin's criticism of Voznesensky's revisionist
views - still without mentioning the latter's name:
In the political situation following the publication
of Stalin's 'Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR' and its endorsement
at the 19th Congress of the CPSU, the Soviet Marxist-Leninists were able
to break through the curtain of silence which the concealed revisionists
had been able to draw around the criticism of Voznesensky's economic views,
and around his treasonable conduct and trial.
(Timothy Dunmore: op. cit.; p. 114).
On 12 and 21 December 1952, two articles were published
in 'Izvestia'; (News) by the philosopher Petr FEDOSEYEV extolling Stalin's
last work. On 24 December 1952 a further article was published in 'Pravda'
(Truth) by the chief editor of the newspaper, Mikhail SUSLOV. The article
agreed with Fedoseyev's conclusions, and (for the first time since 1949)
mentioned Voznesensky by name:
"This (Voznesensky's - Ed.) view is in essence a revival of the idealistic
theory of DUHRING".
Suslov went on to express strong criticism of Fedoseyev
for failing to make a self-criticism of his (Fedoseyev's - Ed.) endorsement
of Voznesensky's revisionist views in the 1940s:
(Mikhail Suslov: 'Concerning the Articles by P. Fedoseyev in 'Izvestia',
Dec, 12 and 21', in: 'Current Digest of the Soviet Press', Volume 6, No.
50 (24 January 1953); p. 14).
"The question inevitably arises why he (Fedoseyev -- Ed.), who once
diligently disseminated this same idealistic viewpoint and subjectivism
on the nature of the economic laws of socialism, deemed it necessary to
maintain silence about his mistakes. . . .
Suslov's article contained the text of the previously
unpublished Central Committee resolution of July 1949 (see pages 14-15)
criticising Voznesensky's book and its endorsement by 'Bolshevik'.
'Bolshevik' passed off N. Voznesensky's anti-Marxist
book 'The War Economy of the USSR in the Period of the Patriotic War' as
'the latest contribution to Soviet economic science'. . . .
Comrade Fedoseyev's action can only be construed
as a glossing over by him of his own errors, which is impermissible for
(Mikhail Suslov: ibid.; p. 14, 15).
In January 1953, a letter from Fedoseyev dated 31
December 1952 was published in 'Pravda', in which he said:
After the death of Stalin in 1953, the new revisionist
leaders hastened to rehabilitate their executed fellow-conspirators:
On 30 April 1954,
". . . the USSR Supreme Court rehabilitated the persons who had been
tried and convicted ('Political Archives' (1990): op. cit.; p. 157).
in the 'Leningrad Affair'. And on 3 May 1954,
". . . the Presidium of the CC, CPSU, adopted a decision to this effect,
obliging Nikita S. Khrushchev, First Secretary of the Central Committee,
and R. A. RUDENKO, USSR Procurator-General, to notify the Leningrad Party
activists of the decisions adopted. This was done."
The 'rehabilitation' of the conspirators made it necessary
to find scapegoats to blame for the alleged 'miscarriage of justice' in
the 'Leningrad Affair' and for the 'torture' which would account for their
(Political Archives' (1990): ibid.; p. 157).
THE ABAKUMOV CASE (1954)
Thus, in December 1954 the former USSR Minister of
State Security, Viktor ABAKUMOV, was put on trial, together with five of
his assistants, charged with having:
". . fabricated the so-called 'Leningrad case' . . . in which many
Party and Soviet officials were arrested without grounds and falsely accused
of very many state crimes. . . .
All the accused were found guilty, and four of them
(including Abakumov) were sentenced to death and executed,
The persons falsely accused by Abakumov and his
accomplices have now been completely rehabilitated".
(Communiqué, in: 'Pravda' (24 December 1954), in: 'Current Digest
of the Soviet Press', Volume 6, No.49 (19 January 1955); p. 12).
(Communique, ibid. p. 12)
THE 'REHABILITATION' OF VARGA (1954)
After the death of Stalin in 1953 and the accession
to power of the new revisionist leadership of the CPSU headed by Nikita
" . . . was not only rehabilitated, but received the Order of Lenin
And in 1963, Varga was awarded
It was not until the infamous 20th Congress of the CPSU
in February 1956 that the 'rehabilitation' of the conspirators in the 'Leningrad
Affair' was made more widely known -- and even then only in the 'secret
speech'. The 'blame' for the alleged 'miscarriage of justice' was now placed
Before 1957, the name of Georgi Malenkov was not mentioned
in connection with the 'Leningrad Affair':
(Philip J. Jaffe: op. cit.; p. 123).
"In his (Khrushchev's - Ed.) secret speech of 1956, he did not mention
Malenkov in this connection".
But after Malenkov came to realise the true character
of the revisionist conspirators and began to oppose them, secret internal
Party documents began to accuse him of involvement in the 'Leningrad Affair'.
In February 1955,
(Wolfgang Leonhard: 'The Kremlin since Stalin'; London; 1962; p. 177).
" . . . Malenkov had to resign as Prime Minister, and shortly afterwards
an internal Party circular openly accused Malenkov of sharing responsibility
for the 'Leningrad Affair"'. (Wolfgang Leonhard: op. cit.; p. 176-77).
". . . it was not until July 1957, after the showdown with the 'Anti-Party
Group' (Vyacheslav MOLOTOV, Lazar KAGANOVICH, Malenkov, etc. -Ed.) that
Khrushchev asserted flatly: 'Malenkov . . was one of the chief organisers
of the so-called 'Leningrad Case"'.
Thus, 'blame' attributed by the revisionists f or the
'miscarriage of justice' in the 'Leningrad Affair' was not based on any
historical facts. It was shifted from one scapegoat to another according
to the changing tactical needs of the revisionist conspirators.
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 101).
VARGA'S 'POLITICO-ECONOMIC PROBLEMS OF CAPITALISM' (1964)
In 1964 Varga published a new book entitled 'Ocherki
po problemam politekonomy kapitalizma' (Essays on Politico-Economic Problems
In the new ideological climate, Varga presented his
work as a polemic against 'the distortion of economic science in the time
of Stalin', saying:
"The book, written polemically, is directed against thoughtless dogmatism,
which until recently was widespread in works on the economy and politics
He admitted that his earlier 'self-criticism' had not
been made as a result of pressure from within the Soviet Union:
(Evgeny S. Varga: 'Politico-Economic Problems of Capitalism'; Moscow;
1968 (hereafter listed as 'Evgeny S. Varga (1968)1; p. 11).
"At the time of the debate, I was compelled to put an end to the discussion
by admitting that there were mistakes in my book. This was not because
pressure was exerted on me in the Soviet Union, but because the capitalist
Dress. especially the American papers. . . . used it for violent anti-Soviet
propaganda. asserting that I was pro-West, was opposing the Communist Party,
etc. It therefore became a matter of little importance to me whether my
critics or I were right".
but he now reaffirmed virtually all the points he had
previously withdrawn, He even denounced as 'entirely unfounded' the basic
economic law of modern capitalism put forward by Stalin, which he had endorsed
Shortly before his death. Varga wrote
(Evgeny S. Varga (1968): op. cit.; p. 50)
" . a political statement titled 'The Russian Way and Its Results',
known as Varga's 'Testament'."
The document was
(Philip J. Jaffe: op. cit.; p. 130).
". . . circulated in typewritten copies by the underground press in
the Soviet Union (Samizdat), but never officially published".
According to Varga's 'Testament', under Stalin's leadership
the dictatorship of the proletariat degenerated into the 'dictatorship
of the top group of the Party bureaucracy':
(Philip J. Jaffe: ibid.; p. 130).
"The dictatorship of the proletariat, whose theoretical foundations
were laid by Marx and Lenin, rapidly became a dictatorship of the top group
of the Party bureaucracy. This produced a total degeneration of the power
of the Soviets"'.
until the Soviet Union became virtually 'a fascist state':
(Evgeny S. Varga: 'Political Testament'(1964), in: 'New Left Review',
No. 62 (July/August 1970) (hereafter listed as 'Evgeny S. Varga (1970)';
p. 36, 37).
"Although there were fewer torturers and sadists in the prisons and
concentration camps of Stalin than in those of Hitler, one can say that
there was no difference in principle between them".
What, no doubt, made Varga's anti-Stalin diatribe unacceptable
to the new Soviet revisionist leadership was his assertion that under the
'reforms' nothing had fundamentally changed, and that real change required
a new top leadership:
Varga died on 8 October 1964. His glowing obituary,
published in 'Pravda' on 9 October, was signed by Nikita Khrushchev, Anastas
Mikoyan and other revisionist leaders. It described him as:
(Evgeny S. Varga (1970): ibid.; p. 39).
". . .an outstanding representative of Marxist-Leninist economic science.
THE PUBLICATION IN OCTOBER 1952 OF STALIN'S 'ECONOMIC
PROBLEMS OF SOCIALISM IN THE USSR' MUST BE SEEN AS A POWERFUL BLOW BY THE
SOVIET MARXIST-LENINISTS AGAINST THE GROWING INFLUENCE OF REVISIONIST IDEAS
IN THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE SOVIET UNION.
The works of E. S. Varga are imbued with Party spirit,
and irreconcilability with any manifestation of the dogmatism or revisionism,
vulgarisation or doctrinairism which called themselves science in the years
of the cult of personality".
(Obituary of Evgeny S. Varga, in: 'Pravda', 9 October 1964, in: Evgeny
S. Varga (1970) ibid.; p. 30).