‘Observations of an Economist: The Beginning of the New Economic Year’ by Nikolai Bukharin from International Press Correspondence. Vol. 8 Nos. 73 & 77. October 19 & November 2, 1928.

Bukharin breaks with Stalin. An important document in the history of the Soviet Union, this September 30, 1928 Pravda article was also immediately published in English in the Comintern’s ‘Inprecor,’ from which this comes. The 15th Party Congress of December, 1927 had seen the alliance of Bukharin and Stalin decisively defeating the United Opposition, while at the same time stepping away from the New Economic Policy in an effort to combat the ‘right dangers’ it engendered. However, partially as a result of 1928’s bad harvest, Stalin’s faction soon moved towards a position of large scale agricultural collectivization along with rapid, and heavy, industrialization; both general positions of Trotsky’s defeated Opposition. This article was denounced at the November, 1928 Plenum of the Central Committee with Bukharin, Rykov, Tomsky and supporters condemned as a ‘Right Deviation.’ Seemingly at the height of his authority at the 15th Party Congress lost all of his leading positions in 1929 and would not even be elected as a delegate to the 16th Party Congress in 1930. Transcribed for the first time here.

‘Observations of an Economist: The Beginning of the New Economic Year’ by Nikolai Bukharin from International Press Correspondence. Vol. 8 Nos. 73 & 77. October 19 & November 2, 1928.

The new economic year is approaching. It is a matter of course that every thinking worker especially every communist worker feels the necessity of drawing a certain balance, of setting up certain perspectives, of making a general survey of our total economic development. We only need to read the letters sent by the workers, the communications handed in at numerous meetings, or to hear the speeches of ordinary proletarians. How vast is the cultural and political growth evidenced! How high the level of the questions and problems stirring the minds of the masses! What a burning need to “get to the bottom of things!” What discontent with the empty hackneyed phrases, so primitive, so everlastingly the same. It must be admitted that the disproportion between the demands of the masses and the “mental food” offered them is greatly the fault of our own special press (how often we dish up this food half cooked, unpalatable, scarcely warmed up). Can we maintain that the burning and “sensitive” questions fermenting in the heads of so many find a real echo among us? Can we assert that we deal in sufficient detail with the doubts which so often arise? Or that the question of exact information on our economy is satisfactorily solved? That we unfold the most complicated plans of our economic organisation with adequate detail before the masses, above all the working masses? No, a thousand times no! Here we must admit is a huge gap, and this must be filled up before we have the right to speak of serious efforts for inducing the masses to take active part in the building up of Socialism.

Bukharin speaking a rally on Red Square during the trial of the Right Social Revolutionaries. Bill Haywood on right. July 18, 1922.

It is of course not merely a question of propaganda. In our endeavours to learn the lessons taught by our own past, and to criticise ourselves unceasingly, we must arrive at the following conclusion: We ourselves have not yet sufficiently recognised what is actually new in the conditions of the reconstruction period. This is the reason why we are so “late”. We did not tackle the problem of our specialists until after the Shakhty affair; the problem of the Soviet and collective farms was practically left till after the grain supply crisis and its resultant convulsions so that it had then to be attacked from a dead point. We have, in a word, acted pretty much in accordance with that characteristically Russian proverb; “Unless it thunders, the peasant does not cross himself.”


At the time of our transition from war communism to the New Economic Policy, we began to regroup our ranks in the. most courageous and decided manner. This gigantic regrouping of forces, combined with the determined propaganda of such slogans as: “Learn commerce”, was the prerequisite for our economic successes.

The transition to the reconstruction period naturally brings with it no such fundamental change in economic policy as was the case in 1921. It is, however, of immense importance all the same, though from another standpoint. There is a tremendous difference between making repairs to a bridge and building one. The latter process demands knowledge of mathematics, of the laws of resistance, and thousands of other bits of wisdom. This parallel now applies to the whole of our economy. The reconstruction period confronts us with a number of the most complicated technical tasks (the planning of new factories, new technics, new branches of industry), with a number of most complicated organisational-economic problems (new systems of organising labour in the factories. the question of locality, of division into districts, of new forms of the whole economic apparatus, etc.), with a number of extremely difficult tasks in the guidance of economy as a whole (co-ordination of the main elements of economy under the new conditions, questions of socialist accumulation, questions of economy in their connection with questions of class struggle, again under the new conditions of this struggle, etc.), and, finally, with a number of problems relating to the personal apparatus (drawing the masses into the work of carrying out the process of rationalisation on the one hand, and the problem of the qualified cadres on the other). The great technical achievements of the capitalist world (especially in Germany and U.S. A.) and the growth of international production profoundly effect our inner problems. We have, however, not accomplished the necessary regrouping of our forces, or, more strictly speaking, we have not accomplished it at the speed and with the energy required by objective developments.

The economic year just passed closes the balance of the whole of the three years of reconstructive development in our economy. The country has taken a huge leap forward in its development. It is perfectly ridiculous to read the super-learned meditations of our emigres, of Brutskus, Sagorsky, and various “shining lights” of foreign science, who have picked up a few newspaper sensations from the ample supply produced in Riga, and are now endeavouring, with an air of profound importance and utmost eagerness, to prove the “collapse of Soviet economy”, the “collapse of Communism”, the “collapse of Bolshevism” and various other “collapses”, the while they discuss the theme: What Chamberlain and his like think of during their sleepless nights. And yet it is clear to every unprejudiced person, to anyone possessing even the minimum of objective powers of judgment, that however the matter be twisted and turned, the economy of the Soviet Union is none the less very evidently going ahead at a terrific pace in all main directions, and that even the zig-zag line of this tempestuous advance, and the apparently peculiar and sudden “crises” to which it has been subject, are anything but forerunners of the fulfilment of the longings of all White hearts, the “collapse of the Bolshevist system”.

Bukharin at the 1929’s Anniversary of October. Within weeks he will be expelled from the Politburo.

During the last few years we have arrived at an important turning point in a number of branches of production, especially in various branches of industry. Our naphtha industry, whose main network has been thoroughly developed in the Bairn district, has passed through an actual technical revolution, and its fresh equipment raises it fairly to the American level. Our machine building industry the main lever for the further technical revolution in the industries of our country, has made mighty strides forward; the industry manufacturing agricultural machinery has reached three times its prewar level. An entirely new branch of industry, the electro-technical, has sprung up. The foundation stone of our chemical industry has been laid, and for the first time nitrogen is being extracted from the air on our territory. The electrification, the building of power stations, conquer one position after another. The technical and economic revolution is penetrating the villages. It is supporting and developing the co-operative associations of the peasantry, it has already sent 30.000 tractors into the fields and steppes of our country, and the tractor workers, these fighting troops of technical revolution are no longer rare guests in the most backward and truly barbaric regions of our Union. For the first time the steam plough penetrates the soil of the Ukrainian steppes, of the land of the Cossacks, and of the banks of the Volga.

Let us take a glance at the dry figures which speak to us, in their austere language, of the continuation of revolution in our Union.

The stock capital of the whole state co-operative sector of the national economy of the Soviet Union has increased in three years (1925/26 to 1927/28) by 4 milliard roubles, calculated by the prices obtaining in 1925/26 (a rise of over 14 per cent.).

The stock capital of the state and co-operative industrial undertakings, calculated for the same years and on the basis of the same prices, has risen from 6.3 milliards to 8.8 milliards, that is, by 2.5 milliard roubles (39 to 40%), whereby the rate of growth attained the immense figure of 15 per cent. During the last year alone.

These figures show the real accumulation, that is, the extended reproduction. If we take the sum total of capital invested, that is, including in the calculation the replacement of the worn out portion of the “capital”, we arrive at the following figures:

Whole socialised sector: Here the annual cap.ital investment rose from 2 milliard to 3.4 milliard roubles (calculated on the same prices).

State and co-operative industry: Here the corresponding figures are 890 million roubles in 1925/26 and 1.5 to 1.6 milliard in 1927/28.

Joseph Stalin, Alexei Rykov, Grigory Zinoviev, Nikolai Bukharin in September, 1924.

The systematic growth of the whole of the new industrial structure is a further point of great interest. The share accorded to this building up work, calculated in percentages of the whole expenditure for industry, has increased steadily. In 1925/26 this share was 12 per cent., in 1926/27 21 per cent., in 1927/28 23 per cent. The specific weight of heavy industry is increasing rapidly in our national economy, as also the specific weight of the production of means of production in our industrial sector, and so forth. It is characteristic that the latest inquiries show the income of the peasantry to be derived up to almost one half from industrial sources (trade, building work, wood-working, etc.).

All this shows how rapidly the process of the industrialization of the country is proceeding, and how clearly the simultaneous process of the socialisation of its whole economy makes itself apparent. The figures showing how private economic elements are being supplanted are already known to you. The goods traffic of the country is growing, especially the inter-course between town and country. The transport service for goods is expanding. Our budget is growing. The numerical strength of the working class is growing from year to year, and with it its standard of living, physically and culturally.

At the same time, however, the growth of our economy and the indubitable advance of Socialism are accompanied by peculiar “crises”, which, despite the obviously decided difference between the laws governing our development and that of capitalism, apparently “repeat” the crises of capitalism, even though as in a distorted mirror. Here as there, we see a disproportion between production and consumption. But in our case this disproportion is “turned upside down” (there, over-production, here goods famine; there the demand of the masses far beneath the supply, here the demand greater than the supply). Here as there, vast capital investments, involving (under capitalism) specific crises, and with us certain “difficulties”. Here again conditions are reversed: there over-accumulation, here lack of capital. Here as there, disproportion between the various spheres of production. The metal shortage is typical of our conditions. We experience unemployment simultaneously with a steady increase in the number of workers employed. Even our “agrarian” crisis is reversed (insufficient amount of grain offered for sale). In one word: the past year especially has confronted us with the problem of our “crises”, which are the result of the initial stages of transition economy in a country with a backward petty bourgeois population and surrounded by hostile countries. Marx gave us a theory of capitalist crises. These crises he showed to be caused by the general lack of system (“anarchy”) of the capitalist methods of production, by the impossibility of attaining correct proportions between the various elements of the process of reproduction under capitalism, especially between production and consumption. In other words, he showed the cause to be the incapability of capitalism to maintain an equilibrium among the various elements of production. This does not, of course, mean that Marx ignored the problem of the classes and of the class struggle. Mass consumption, its level, the value of labour power itself – all these included for Marx the factor of the class struggle. The whole mechanism of the contradictions developing between production and consumption, between the growth of production and the conditions of distribution, contains in itself! the class struggle, taking the form of economic categories.

Bukharin, Stalin, and Voroshilov among a group of delegates to the Fourth All-Union Congress of Soviets, Moscow 1927.

The well known bourgeois economist Professor Tugan-Baranovsky attempted to separate the classes and the class struggle from economic relations; and in his “Theory of Social Distribution” he emphasised only the factor of the “class struggle”, throwing overboard its economic effect, whilst in his crisis theory he thrust entirely on one side the factor of mass consumption, and with this the factor of the class struggle. The sole correct theory is that of Marx, and not the bourgeois theory of Tugan-Baranovsky. Therefore, we can and must deal with the question of our “crises” with the methodology of Marx, and not with that of Tugan-Baranovsky’s “Theory of Social Distribution”, even though this latter may appear superficially to be “based” on the “class” principle. We must say at the same time that we find it ridiculous to accuse the schemes of reproduction in Vol. II of “Capital” of leaving the class problem out of consideration. To do this is to show a lack of comprehension of either the theory of the class struggle or of Marx’s theory of reproduction.

During the period of transition (from capitalism to Socialism) the classes continue to exist. Indeed, the class struggle can even become more acute. Society in the transition period is, however, at the same time to a certain extent a unit, if an inconsistent unit. Therefore, schemes of reproduction analogous to those in Vol. II of “Capital” may be drawn up for this state of society (in fact with even greater “right”), that is, the conditions for the correct co-ordination of the various spheres of production or, in other words, the conditions of dynamic economic equilibrium, may be ascertained. This is the essential part of the task of working out a plan of national economy which resembles more and more the balance of the entire national economy, a consciously drawn up plan, which is at the same time a prognosis and a directive.

Let us now proceed to the next question: If our “crises” possess apparently the character of capitalist crises “turned upside down”, and if the effective demand of our masses has overtaken our production, then the question arises whether the “goods famine” is not perhaps a general law of our development. Are we, perhaps, condemned to periodical or non-periodical crises on the reversed basis of another relation between production and consumption? Are these “critical” difficulties not an iron law of our development?

Even the premises of this supposition are faulty, as we have already been able to point out in our economic literature. Two entirely different things are confused with one another: on the one hand the lagging – at the given movement – of the developing productive forces behind the still more rapidly developing needs (behind the “demand” in the wider sense of the word), and on the other a specifically acute “crisis” form of development, the form of goods shortage (the demand then being effective).

The first phenomenon simply expresses the fact that society is really going over to Socialism; that the growth of needs is the immediate motive power behind its economic development; that production becomes a means, etc. The crisis-like factors disturbing the process of reproduction are something very different. These can only arise from a failure to observe the conditions of economic equilibrium, that is, they are caused by the incorrect co-ordination of the elements of reproduction (including the factor of consumption). The “distorted” character of the “crises” as compared with those of capitalism is determined by the really fundamentally new relations between the needs of the masses and production. This relation is however not a developing antagonism (on the contrary, production is catching up more and more with mass consumption, which goes on in front as the main driving spring of the whole process of development). Here there exists no basis for a “law of crises”, a law of inevitable crises. There can, however, be “crises” arising from the relative anarchy, that is, the relative lack of system in economy during the period of transition.

The relative lack of system or relative system of economy in the transition period originates in the existence of small undertakings, of market connections, that is, of anarchist elements of considerable strength. Therefore, the plan itself has a character of its own: it is not by any means a more or less “complete” plan of a developed socialist state of society. This plan contains many elements of the prognosis of the anarchist factor (e. g. the estimate made of the crops, of the amount of grain available as a commodity, the amount of commodities represented by agricultural production generally, consequently the estimates of prices, etc.), and this prognosis becomes the starting point for this or that directive. Precisely for this reason an “ideal” plan is impossible for us. Precisely for this reason there may be errors up to a certain point. But the fact that an error can be explained, even an unavoidable error, does not thereby cease to be an error. This is the first point. The second is that grave violations of fundamental proportions (as happened in our grain supply question, with which I deal further on), and the resultant erroneous calculations, are by no means unavoidable. And thirdly: Even if the good plan is not omnipotent, a bad “plan”, or bad economic manoeuvring, might bring even a good cause to ruin.

The problem arising from all this form a complex in which the problem of capital investment and grain supply take the first place. With reference to this last question, the latest decisions of the Party have duly stressed its immense importance. Hence the correction of the price policy, hence the necessity for the greatest practical efforts in this sphere. It need not be said that if it were not for the fact that our grain provision has fallen threateningly behind our requirements, were it not scattered, and had our grain not lost much of its character as a commodity, then it would certainly be more to the purpose for us to invest the money expended for Soviet farms in something else, in black metallurgy for instance, the most needy factor in our industry.  But not even the “superindustrialists” venture to lay a finger on the Soviet farms; Why? Because the backwardness of our grain provision is so painfully obvious; the “pure production standpoint”, that is, the standpoint of “increased production” (Lenin) coincides here with the standpoint of “class substitution”, with the gradual substitution of the capitalist elements of agriculture by the growing collectivisation of the individual farms of the poor and middle peasantry, by the reorganisation of agricultural production on the basis of the large undertaking and by the socialisation of agriculture. This is a new and vast problem, which does not by any means assume neglect of the individual farms of the working peasantry, but which, on the contrary, must be solved on the basis of the improvement of the individual undertaking. (Thus, and not otherwise, was the question stated by Lenin.) This problem demands special attention and special effort precisely for the reason that it is a new problem; The task before us consists to a certain extent of making extensive capital investments in agriculture, which requires both new technical appliances (tractors, mechanisation, chemistry, etc.) and new cadres of qualified workers. The rise of the individual peasant farm, especially in the direction of grain production, the restriction of the peasant farm, the establishment of new Soviet farms and collective agricultural undertakings in combination with a correct price policy, and in combination with the co-operative association of the peasant masses, etc., are all calculated to equalise the great economics disproportions which have found expression in the stability, and even the decline, of grain production, and in the weak development of agriculture in general. When drawing up our plans, we must remember the directives of the XV. Party Congress:

“It is incorrect to take as a starting point the demand of a maximum pumping over of means from the sphere of agriculture into the sphere of industry, for this demand not only signifies a political rupture with the peasantry’, but an undermining of the raw material basis of industry itself, an undermining of the home market, undermining of export, and an upsetting of the equilibrium of the whole economic system. On the other hand, it would be incorrect to renounce the use of means drawn from agriculture for the furtherance of industry: At the present time this would mean a retardation of the speed of development and an upsetting of the balance, to the detriment of the industrialisation of the country.”

The pivot upon which our whole planned economic calculations turns, and our whole economic policy, must be the care for the steadily developing industrialisation of the country, and the Party will combat anyone intending to divert us from this path. The industrialisation of the Soviet Union is our law, from every standpoint (development of productive forces, development of agriculture, growing role of Socialism, firmer establishment of collaboration within the country, increase of our specific international weight, self-defensive powers, increase of mass requirements, etc.). At the same time we must never forget that our socialist industrialisation must differ from capitalist industrialisation, that it is pursued by the proletariat in the interests of Socialism, that its effect upon the peasantry is different, and that its “attitude” towards agriculture in general is different. Capitalism has led to the decline of agriculture. Socialist industrialisation is not a parasitic process in its relation to the village (under capitalism the elements of such a parasitism exist, in spite of the development of agriculture under capitalism), but a medium for the extensive reorganization and advancement of agriculture. The industrialization of the country, therefore, signifies at the same time the industrialisation of agriculture, and thereby prepares the way for the cancelment of the antagonism between town and country. It is comprehensible that the process of industrialisation cannot advance with equal smoothness in all stages of development. And it is equally comprehensible that it places us before extremely difficult problems. In a half beggared country we must raise enormous sums of fresh “capital” and apply these productively, converting it into new technics, new buildings, etc. The problem of capital investment therefore demands first attention. Here we encounter most complicated and difficult tasks, which cannot by any means be accomplished by shouting, by “intuition”, or any similar means. Here a thorough study of the problem is necessary, here dilettantism is out of place; here we require a collective working out of the question; here we must calculate. We must strive for the greatest attainable speed of industrialisation. Does this mean that we must employ everything as capital investment? The question is somewhat senseless. But this senseless question conceals within it another and entirely “sensible” question, the question of the limits of accumulation, the question of the utmost boundary of capital investment.

Above all, when drawing up our programme of capital investment, we must keep in view the instructions of the Party with respect to reserves of securities, money, grain, and goods. Of late, it has become the fashion to preserve silence on the policy of reserves.

Although “silence is golden”, and we are short of gold, in this case we must not play the game of silence. We have not only no reserves, but we have difficulties in providing adequate supplies; the “queue” has become a “form of life” which considerably disorganises the life of our production.

We are aware that the errors of our planned economy are unavoidable to a certain extent, that we have great difficulties, that the international situation is strained. Is it possible under such circumstances to manage without reserves? A policy of working constantly without reserves would be the policy of adventurers. Therefore, the Party has placed the question of reserves in the foreground.

This directive has, however, been followed very insufficiently up to the present. Here a decided change must be made. The resolutions passed by the Party are not for amusement. At the present time we have no cause to revise the decisions of the 14th and 15th Party Congresses on reserves. The whole situation imperatively demands that we execute these decisions. We are especially interested in the question of the extent to which this directive is being followed in the drawing up of our perspective plans. Let us take, for instance, the latest drafts of the Five-Year Plan for industry. I have the impression that the People’s Supreme Economic Council, in drawing up its Five-Year Plan, has forgotten the policy of reserves altogether. It is to be seen from the report of the “Economitshcikaya Shisn” that the excessive demands put on the budget by the five-Year Plan impair its practical character. And when a plan is impracticable it is a “somewhat” serious fault.

It is easily comprehensible that the question of reserves is closely bound up with both the question of productive consumption (including capital investment) and the question of personal consumption (personal mass consumption). It is a generally known fact that here our bow is at a very high tension. To increase this tension still further, and to increase the goods famine still more, is impossible. The 15th Party Congress gave an entirely correct directive here:

”We must not take as a starting point either the one-sided interests of accumulation during the present period (as demanded by Trotzky), or the one-sided interests of consumption.”

It is an unfortunate fact that the Five-Year Plans for industry deal with the question of goods famine just as they deal with the question of reserves. The report of the “Economisheskaya Snisn”, speaking of the draft, observes that here the balance between demand and supply is lacking. (C.f. Comrade Meschlauk’s speech). When a plan drawn up during a supply crisis fails to analyse thoroughly the question of the balance between demand and supply, this is no “external” oversight, no “formal” omission, but a profound internal fault. The acuteness of the goods shortage must certainly be alleviated, and not in some remote future, but during the next few years. The first steps in this direction must be made at once.

It is further necessary to raise the question of the material elements of capital investment. In order that the industrialization of the country is accomplished not only on paper, but in actuality, in order that capital investment may be a reality and not a mere bureaucratic “juggling with figures” (Lenin), we must not only secure the necessary money basis, representing the demand for building materials, but we must provide for a corresponding supply of these building materials, for their actual physical existence, and this not in the future but at the present lime, since it is not possible to build a “real” factory, even alter Bohm-Bawerk, with “future bricks”.

Members of the famous “Bukharin school” in 1926 – Ivan Kravel, Vasily Slepkov, Dmitry Maretsky, Aleksandr Zaitsev, Bukharin, Ian Sten, Aleksandr Slepkov, Grigory Maretsky, David Rosit, Aleksei Stretsky, Aleksandr Troitsky.

A certain strange standpoint still prevails very often among us, a strange species of “money fetishism”. It is assumed that, where there is money everything else must be there too. In reality money does not help us when this or that material (taking thriftiness into account) is not available in sufficient quantities, when a term is required for its production which exceeds the term in which it should be productively consumed. We may strike our chests as dramatically as may be, may swear by industrialisation and curse all our woes, but that will not help matters.

How does this question stand for next year? The following table gives the answer:

These data show that even if measures are being taken with respect to bricks and cement (although 8.6 and 10.8 per cent. Still represent a more than “fairly large” deficit), still foe shortage of glass, beams, wire, section iron and steel, is extremely great. The writer of the article (Barsky: “The building material industry”, “Ekonomitsheskaya Shisn”, No. 220) furnishing the above figures has unfortunately not staled on what physical growth of building work he bases his calculation. If this estimate of the deficit is correct, then we are faced with a somewhat complicated task: How are we going to build if we have 20 per cent less building material than we need? Can we not make an exacter calculation, and draw up a more accurate programme, based on real and not imaginary beams and iron?

It is interesting to investigate the matter with reference to the most backward department of our big industry – black metallurgy. The “Control figures of the black metal balance for 1928-29” give us the following survey of three years of development:

We see that the deficit (deficit!) is decidedly growing (growing!!) in every category of consumption.

In order to understand how such a paradox is possible, that the shortage increase in every direction – both in personal and productive consumption – and has increased more acutely than ever in 1928/29, we must examine the question of how the figures for the growth of our capital investment have been planned.

What were the directives issued by the 15th Party Congress on this question?

“In the question of the rate of development…the extreme complicatedness of the task must be taken into account. We must not take as a point of departure the maximum rate of accumulation for the next year or years, but such a proportion as will guarantee the greatest speed of development permanently. With respect to the relations between the development of heavy and light industry we must again proceed from the optimal combination of both factors. Whilst regarding the attaching of greatest importance to heavy industry as correct, we must at the same time remember the dangers involved in tying down too much state capital in the building of large undertakings, whose production cannot be realised in the market for many years. On the other hand it must be remembered that a more rapid circulation of the products of light industry (mass articles of daily use) permits capital to be expended for building up heavy industry whilst developing light industry at the same time.”

We see that the 15th Party Congress was extremely cautious. It expressed itself as directly opposed to a wild overstrain on the speed of the first few years, with its inevitable resultant decline. How is this Party directive being executed in practice? We have unfortunately no new data on the preliminary estimates for the capital investment of the whole socialized sector. We append, however, the figures on the projected capital investment in industry (that is, about 35 per cent of total socialized building activity).

The increase of capital investment, in percentages of the previous year, as projected by the Five-Year Plan (which was fortunately rejected by the Supreme Economic Council) is as follows:

Here the entirely opposite course is taken. In 1929/30 we see a leap of almost 40%, followed however by a drop to 7 and then to 1 – finally landing at 8%. Is it not evident that this project is made without reference to the situation? What premises have permitted such an acrobatic somersault in so serious a matter as capital investment? We find not even approximately satisfactory answer to this question.

Can we not demand that here, too, the decisions of the 15th Party Congress in the question of the speed of development be exactly observed?

Lobov, Nikolai Bukharin , Sergey Kirov and Vyacheslav Molotov on the Leningrad Party conference 1926.

The overstraining in capital expenditure is 1. not accompanied by actual building activity to a corresponding extent; 2. it will lead in time to the stoppage of enterprises already begun; 3. it will react unfavourably on other branches in every direction, and 4. it will finally retard the speed of development. Such a sabotage, under the conditions imposed by stable and semi-stable prices, has at the same time a damaging reaction on the monetary system. This is a special subject, and a very important one.

Every communist can see plainly that we must go forward as rapidly as possible. It is natural to regret a slowing down of that speed already attained by means of a severe strain on the budget, the absence of any reserves, and at the cost of a reduction in the share of consumption, etc., and we must clearly recognise that if we want to maintain this speed (and not merely force it), and at the same time alleviate the goods famine, in the first place, secondly make some progress towards accumulating reserves, and thirdly ensure economic development free from crises, we must take decisive measures for securing more efficient building activities, a greater productivity of the new undertakings, an efficiency and productivity far exceeding the present.

The concrete investigations made by the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection have shown that we have a frightful amount of unproductive expenditure. These faux frais, connected with a number of organisational questions, must be reduced to a minimum. Every effort must be concentrated on the reduction of the building material index figures. The time of production must be greatly shortened (we take two years for buildings finished in America in two months). The type of building (the needlessly heavy building) must be greatly altered. We must be much more economical in the expenditure of building material (at times the amount of material consumed is 11/2 to 2 times more than actually required). All this combined can achieve an immense saving, when we take into account that the capital investments in industry represent only one third of the total investments of the socialised sector (1.25 to 1.30 milliard roubles for industry without electrification, out oi a total sum of 3.4 milliard roubles in the economic year 1927/28).

The sums thus released must be used for: 1) alleviating the tension of the market, so detrimental to industry and to the whole of socialised economy to the workers and peasants (as seen above in the analysis of the structure of the demand), and to our monetary system; 2. for the formation of reserves; 3. For the maintenance of the tempo really attained.

At the same time the productivity of our undertakings must be increased in every way, and the overhead charges reduced (and actual mass production must be secured). The latest inventions, the most important technical achievements, serious ratio, utilisation work, participation of the masses, development and application of science (the importance of which must be many times increased) – all this must occupy the first place in our attention. We must do· away with Russian provincialism: We must follow carefully every movement of scientific and technical thought in Europe and America and utilise every real advance; we must make our calculations on a scientific basis; we must put an end as quickly as possible to the confusion, the overburdening, etc. in the system of our economic administration. We must learn to administer economy culturally under the complicated conditions of the period of reconstruction.

It is only possible for us to fulfill this task if we first grasp the following: We have not yet realigned our ranks in the manner required by the reconstruction period.

The maximum of economic factors working for Socialism must be mobilised among us. This assumes a complicated combination of personal, group, mass, and state initiative.

We are much too centralised. We must ask ourselves, whether we cannot take a few steps in the direction of Lenin’s commune state? This does not by any means signify “letting go the reins”. On the contrary, the fundamental leadership, the most important questions, are matters which must be dealt with much more firmly and strictly (but with more thought) by the “centre”. But the lower organs, whilst acting within the strict confines of the central decisions, are to be responsible for their own sphere of problems, etc. The over-centralisation in various directions has led to our losing additional forces, means, and possibilities, and to our being deprived by bureaucratic hindrances from utilising all our possibilities. We could act with much more elasticity, could manoeuvre much better, and attain much greater success, were we capable of adapting ourselves to real concrete conditions in our enterprises, from the individual state undertakings downwards, and not committing a thousand greater or smaller stupidities.

The grain supply crisis has been a signal warning us of great dangers. Economy has here shown its class aspect again.

These dangers are not yet overcome, and much work is still required before they will be. There is no doubt that hostile forces are at work in our country: the Kulak in the village, the remnants of the old and the groups of the new bourgeoisie in the town. Elements of bourgeois degeneration are creeping into the pores of our gigantic apparatus, and these are perfectly indifferent to the interests of the masses, to their lives, their material and cultural progress. Whilst the active ideologists of the small and middle bourgeoisie are stretching out their tentacles, and making tentative efforts to shake our political line (these are the opponents of industrialisation, the opponents of the Soviet farms, of the collective undertakings. etc.), on the other hand, the officials are ready to work out any plan whatever – even an over-industrialised one – and then to deride us among themselves to-morrow and to join forces with our opponents the day after.

The working class has, however, many trumps in its hand. In the struggle against the class enemies and their growing political power, the proletariat will rely for support upon the village poor and organise their forces against the Kulak, will intensify its self-criticism and thereby successfully overcome its own faults. We are growing, and we can and shall continue to grow, with fewer set-backs, when we have attained more culture and have learnt the work of administration better. It was just on this subject that Lenin spoke during the last few years of his life.

International Press Correspondence, widely known as”Inprecor” was published by the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI) regularly in German and English, occasionally in many other languages, beginning in 1921 and lasting in English until 1938. Inprecor’s role was to supply translated articles to the English-speaking press of the International from the Comintern’s different sections, as well as news and statements from the ECCI. Many ‘Daily Worker’ and ‘Communist’ articles originated in Inprecor, and it also published articles by American comrades for use in other countries. It was published at least weekly, and often thrice weekly. The ECCI also published the magazine ‘Communist International’ edited by Zinoviev and Karl Radek from 1919 until 1926 monthly in German, French, Russian, and English. Unlike, Inprecor, CI contained long-form articles by the leading figures of the International as well as proceedings, statements, and notices of the Comintern. No complete run of Communist International is available in English. Both were largely published outside of Soviet territory, with Communist International printed in London, to facilitate distribution and both were major contributors to the Communist press in the U.S. Communist International and Inprecor are an invaluable English-language source on the history of the Communist International and its sections.

PDF of full October 19 issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/inprecor/1928/v08n73-oct-19-1928-Inprecor-op.pdf

Full November 2 issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/inprecor/1928/v08n77-nov-02-1928-Inprecor-op.pdf

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