Every economic crisis is a consequence and manifestation of the lack of
correspondence between the productive forces and the productive relations,
of the accumulation of contradictions between them.
Every economic crisis is resolved only through a revolutionary
transformation which brings the productive relations into correspondence
with the productive forces. Even in the case where the resolution of the
crisis can take place within the framework of a single social-economic
system, the way out inevitably involves revolutionary changes. That is,
even if the system does not change into another one, all the same, after
the crisis it becomes something different, renewed, better in tune with
the demands of history.
The economic crisis in our country, which had acquired a totally precise
form by the end of the 1970s, but which had begun even earlier, is in no
All revolutionary transformations begin with the revolutionary movement of
the lower classes. It is precisely their struggle, their unity which
produces the social support without which any revolutionary transformation
is impossible. And the movement below gives birth to those ideas which can
succeed in a fundamental, revolutionary restructuring.
History offers no other paths.
It is true, history knows quite a few cases where an economically backward
society resisted collapse through the use of force, that is through the
maintenance of its social backwardness. But this never averted the crash
and hardly even postponed it; on the contrary, the control of social
development using force only deepens the contradictions, sharpens them in
the extreme, and is crowned with the most powerful explosion and the most
The crisis in our country may be characterized as follows;
1. The population must be fed.
The only real path, during the given period, to the resolution of this
problem, was the continuous increases in the purchase of foodstuffs from
abroad. Paying for all this fell to the non-renewable national wealth
(oil, gas and other fossil fuels). But Russia is not Kuwait and can't keep
this up for ever. Moreover, this path leads to the making of extortionate
concessions, to the leasing of the continental shelf and so forth, all the
way to a clearance sale of the territory. The social problems are not
resolved, that is such methods cannot resolve the economic problems but, at
most, drag out the resolution for a certain period.
2. The Programme for Foodstuffs
Initially (perhaps) this is being fulfilled, but only with investment and
only on paper. Further, it turns out; the investment as a whole will not
yield the output which has been projected, the output from the entire
volume of investment will not exceed the current shortfall in agricultural
production, that is, the shortfall will continue.
Based on this elucidation, two resolutions are possible. First, to give up
the 'Programme for Foodstuffs' as a bad job and keep to the policy of
intensification of the sale of our natural riches, which has already proven
reliable (or to amuse oneself with a belief in miracles). Second, to
strive for the planned results with all available forces, making additional
investments. That is to divert additional resources away from
industry. With such urgency, the desired indicator of agriculture
production might be achieved at some point. But then, industry would be
undermined incomparably more than the sum of the withdrawn investment, the
collapse would be speeded up and, with some time lag, a death blow would be
dealt to agriculture, liquidating all its achievements at one stroke.
3. The Collapse of Industry
The industrial slump, which took shape in 1977-78, will be continued.
There is no reason for improvement; and the diversion of resources to the
extraction of natural riches which are being sold, and to agriculture, can
only aggravate the situation. It is entirely possible that, in the near
term, the industrial crisis will make itself felt as a noticeable
restriction even with the sale of national property.
The necessity of resolving the problems of industrial productivity plainly
poses itself most sharply. And then the government (and by government we
don't mean any formal body, but the group that actually rules, which to
some extent coincides with the Politbureau) will be compelled to take the
decision, which has already been knocking at the door for more than 20
years, the decision to broaden the economic rights of the directors. This
decision, in the end, must be sufficiently full-blooded, since
half-measures produce no effect. The government has no other paths.
There are no other paths, but this decision will immediately convert the
directors into capitalists, since the remaining, necessary solutions have
already been prepared. Among this "remainder" they have in mind two
statutes in the law on state arbitration which defend the enterprises (read
- directors) from their ministers, i.e. from higher organs in general,
statutes in the Constitution, providing for the defense of the individual's
right to occupy his position.
Having received a sufficient level of economic rights the directors were
able to obtain such statutes, currently, practically unused, to safeguard
their director's (read - bourgeois) situation.
Whether they will succeed in raising production in this way is unknown
(whether a tendency to raise production will actually arise). But the
government which takes such a decision, will be swept away with a great
hullabaloo well before any such increase can take place. And, our country
will get a new "directors" government; the dirtiest and most dishonourable
in human history, extraordinarily uncoordinated, full of impudence and
corrupt through and through. The measure of its bourgeois perversion can
be neither expressed nor predicted.
A decisive step in the restoration of capitalism will be the destruction of
the state monopoly on foreign trade, i.e. the appearance in the world
market of specific enterprises and associations (read - directors; read -
4. Possible Complications
There are three.
First, monetary panic. Deposits in savings banks have reached 150 billion
roubles, and there is even more money in the hands of the population.
Whereas goods in circulation reach only about 60 billion or thereabouts.
It will take only one sufficiently firm rumour about monetary reform, or
even a noticeable, local disruption in commodity-money circulation for this
entire avalanche of cash to bury the stores. And then, wild inflation,
unimaginable jumps in prices and a transition to the most brutal
normalization of goods in wide circulation (over which the present
authorities have absolutely no control). For the economy this will prove
ruinous, and the political crisis will be inevitable.
Second, there is the mission of the organs of state security to oversee
economic activity. This is a terrible complication. In the briefest of
periods, we can reach the point where, first the investigative and
then the operational organs of the security services will be
completely corrupted (as has already happened with the BKCC). This will be
terrible because it will mean that not a single, healthy, centralized system
will remain. It will mean that the crisis, ruin and complete collapse of
production will reach terrifying proportions, and no suitable
instrument will remain to overcome it (i.e there will be no forces actually
capable of overcoming it), and all centralization will have to be rebuilt
from ground zero.
Third, there is the possibility of war. The government may be pushed to
unleash quite a serious war by the following primitive consideration; "The
patriotic war, under conditions of destruction and evacuation, permitted a
sharp raising of production effectiveness because of the patriotic upsurge,
leading to a significant reduction in the level of satisfaction of demand.
A patriotic upsurge is what we need, this is what can help us." There will
be no patriotic upsurge, such a solution can only sharply accelerate the
development of the crisis.
The lower classes react to the development of the crisis in their own way.
They have long since perceived the crisis in production relations and
answered it by adopting a devil-may-care attitude to production (this
petty-bourgeois form of opposition, strictly speaking, also drives the
economic crisis). They are answering the economic crisis with an ever more
powerful organized revolutionary movement. Preventing this is impossible
(that is to say that, in order to prevent it, it would be necessary to
overcome the crisis, which is impossible). The development of the
revolutionary process itself can proceed along one of the following four paths.
First, the revolutionary process could be led by the directors themselves.
This they could do quite easily. Justifying themselves by the demands
the workers had presented to them, they could point to the
higher-ups as the cause of all the difficulties. But the first director
who, together with his workers, stood up against the higher-ups would be
cruelly punished by them since they have still not lost their powers.
This danger is inhibiting. The victory of the directors at the head of
the workers movement would lead to the establishment of capitalism in a
director's variant, through the all-sided broadening of the rights of the
directors, under the cover of some hastily embroidered, ideological veil.
Second, the movement might be headed by leaders of a more or less open
bourgeois persuasion. For such a variant there are two factors; the
possibility of pointing to the living standard in the West as a model, and
the economic support of the directors and the entire underground
bourgeoisie, which already exists and is continuing to grow. Victory along
these lines could give birth to capitalism in any form up to and including
fascism; the particular form will remain purely speculative until the
crucial moment in the struggle for the support of the masses.
Third, the movement may be led by the pseudo-socialist (i.e. striving for
socialist ideals, but unable to master the Marxist, materialist methods of
assessment of social forces) leaders. Their slogans are always more
comprehensible to the masses since their essence is; "We want everything to
be as it is today (variant; as it was yesterday) only better for everyone
and in all respects." If events are insufficiently sharp and the level of
revolutionary activity correspondingly low, they may come to power. But
then they will, at once, collide with the vast number of unresolved
problems and will, once again, be compelled to resort the broadening of the
rights of the directors, with all its attendant consequences.
Fourth, the workers movement may produce leaders who bases themselves on a
Marxist platform. Here everything is clear. Depending only on the
leader's level of mastery of Marxist theory, there will arise, as a result
of such a victory, either a repetition of the transient form of socialism
(similar to what occurred after the October revolution), or a more perfect
form, taking account of the mistakes and guaranteeing the reproduction of
the proletarian dictatorship.
The first three outcomes (in essence, the first two are purely bourgeois,
while the third is petty-bourgeois) have a petty-bourgeois class basis;
will certainly not rely at all on the peasantry, but directly on the
petty-bourgeois views of workers, on the economic struggle of the working
class. Their development will significantly forestall the fourth outcome,
since petty-bourgeois views have already formed in the working class, based
on the existing productive relations, whereas the proletarian view will arise
only to the extent that the organization of the proletariat grows, to the
extent that is is united in course of organized struggle.
6. Real History
The tendencies and complications mentioned above, will collide, intersect
and act together, at various moments and with various preponderances, to
give rise to the particularities of real history.
It is necessary to note that the socialist revolution (the realization of
the fourth revolutionary direction) can arise only as the continuation,
growth and development of the bourgeois revolution. Accordingly, the
milder the bourgeois revolution, the more likely and the sharper will be
the socialist continuation. Even if the most favourable conditions for the
victory of capitalism occur, afterwards the socialist eruption will be all
the more inevitable. (And can also bring victory.)
7. The Peculiarities of the Development of the Revolution
One peculiarity is obvious. As a result of the lack in the country of
any previous prepared, fully-formed political parties, none of these
directions can have a stable, smooth provisional platform to any real extent
whatever. All these directions will be formed from a wild chaos of ideas,
where even allies and co-thinkers will not always be able to recognize each
other. The longer this process of formation takes, the more profound will
be the collapse.
It is possible to predict one further, altogether unique, feature. Upon
achieving a broadening of their rights, the directors will (in the
interests of production) carry out a sharp differentiation of the
intelligentsia into those 'necessary' and 'unnecessary' for production. As
a result, the 'unnecessary' will be left with the most miserly means of
subsistence (or none at all) and will burst into the proletarian movement
as a greatly embittered (though, in general, petty-bourgeois!) whirlwind,
simultaneously strengthening it and importing confusion and chaos,
infecting the mass with brutal, anarchist radicalism.
8. A Recapitulation
All this taken together shows, though it is superfluous, that we can have
done with the economic crisis only through a revolutionary transformation.
Accordingly, even a "revolution from above" is impossible without the
support, in a specific form, of a fully-formed union of the lower classes.
Practically (for the higher-ups) this signifies that, either the unity of
the lower classes must be opposed with all available forces, dragging the
crisis out and leading to its completion in the sharpest form, or assisting
this union below (it necessarily will be directed against the higher-ups)
hoping to rely on the rallying of the lower classes (after a split among
the higher-ups) behind the carrying out of necessary reforms, while risking
(and the further it goes - the greater the risk) at once coming into
conflict with the masses, with whom no mutual understanding has yet been
Revolutionary events are neither avoidable nor preventable. It is only possible to "manage" them to
some specific extent, supporting one tendency or other and opposing the rest.