Revolution and Counter‑Revolution in Russia
The Party’s Work of Economic Research on the Historical Cycle of Russian Capitalism
In 1956, at the 20th Congress of the Russian Communist Party statements were made which erased the last vestiges of class politics from the Soviet party and state. As a response to this, our party published the ’Dialogue with the Dead’. The title of this pamphlet was to indicate that for the proletarian and revolutionary party, common ground no longer existed – not least in the domain of polemics – with the Kremlin leadership. Vanished even was the illusion of a Russia ready to struggle militarily with America, the number one policeman of the global status quo.
We wrote in 1953 that the bourgeois Russian revolution ’is over, is a fait accompli’. Russian industry, completely capitalist, doesn’t oppose it’s rival on the other side of the Atlantic, rather it professes the wish to peacefully emulate the squalid success of the biggest imperialist robber of them all. It professes as possible – against all the forecasts of Marxism – the peaceful domination of the entire ’super imperialist’ world, à la Kautsky, by two powers, one the champion of capitalism, the other of Socialism, jousting at conferences to the clash of statistics; tons of steel versus kilowatts of energy, megatons of H-bombs against ’conventional’ phantom jets.
And that’s not all: by 1975 it was maintained that the alleged Socialist system of Russia had shown it’s superiority over capitalism and caught up with it – all the while on capitalism’s own terrain, that of the insane production of commodities, of the accumulation of capital, of the exploitation of wage-earners.
In opposition to this false contrast, for which the proletariat of the entire world was driven to the slaughter in defence of false ’workers’ and ’Socialist’ states, we always countered by denouncing the alleged post-capitalist nature of the economy in Russia. We did this by showing the presence within it of the elemental characteristics of all capitalist production; commodities, wage-labour, associated labour; and even that only in the most modern and industrial part, for there remained in the structure of agricultural production, pre-bourgeois and even communitarian (kolkhoz) aspects.
Similarly, we demonstrated that the view which foresaw Russia rapidly attaining the same volume of production as the United States, was both conceited and impossible given the different conditions in their respective points of departure and the almost inevitable slackening in Russian growth. On the other hand, we showed that it was possible to make a measurable comparison between the two social regimes precisely because they were both based on identical economic laws.
Next to the false salvo of drummed-up statistics fired off by both sides, could be added the still more disgusting spectacle of the imperialist thieves shaking hands orbiting around in space; harbingers, in crisis-ridden 1975, not of an impossible peace, credible to nobody anymore, but of the consummated and today crisis-ridden division of the Earth, and all on the backs of millions of duped proletarians and astounded third-world peasants. In the face of all this, our Party initiated a meticulous work of reordering and elaboration – using the scientific method and was thus not merely propagandistic – gauging the most important characteristics and patterns in the economies of the various countries, over long periods of time.
In 1956, amongst the first results of this research an introductory summary in table-form showing, ’Average Annual Increase in Typical Countries and Periods in the Historical Development of Capitalism’.
It was attempted with this to verify two important laws of the
mode of production, both derived from the most general law of the
of the rate of profit to fall, as formulated and demonstrated
by Marx in Capital:
1) ’In normal periods, in each country the rate at which accumulation increases slows down’;
2) ’The youngest capitalisms show the fastest average growth’ (Dialogue).
These laws, verified in Russian industry, bear out the latter’s classification as a member of the capitalist species, but, generalising further, we wrote: ’the keys needed to decipher the table, which in itself gives a clear picture of the future course of events, are three: Crisis, War and Revolution’.
That is, in addition to confirming the historical tendency of the productivity of capital to decline – its death sentence – we enquire also into the succession of future epochs, looking forward to the one which doesn’t conclude by setting off new economical cycles to one which marks the revolutionary termination of all bourgeois accounting. At such a time, we will plan for the dismantling of entire branches of industry and the slowing up of the expansion of productivity.
After the last revolutionary wave, which occurred within the framework of the 1st World War, the following periods have occurred; Reconstruction, Crisis, Recovery, 2nd World War, Reconstruction.
To these were added, after an exposition at the party reunion at Ivrea in May, 1986, two further periods, 1953-1973: which we referred to as ’Senile Euphoria’ and 1973-1987; ’Senile Lethargy’, the first of twenty years duration and the second fourteen (see accompanying table). We remark in connection with this that we have no compunction about opting for 1973 as the year which marks the separation of the periods in question, for it is a year of maximum economic expansion for countries everywhere, the start of a ’down turn’ of capitalist economy, the end of ’a high standard of living’; the ’return to the thirties’, as the bourgeois economists put it.
That aside, we had already written the following as a commentary on the table in ’the Dialogue...’
"In order to draw more far-reaching conclusions, we will not venture a prophecy, merely a wish: The growth of world capitalist production in the decade following the war will continue for a few more years. Then will come the interwar crisis, analogous to the one that hit America in 1929. Social massacre middle classes and the bourgeoisfying of the workers. Revival of a world working class movemnt, that rejects all alliances. A new theoretical victory of its old theses. One Communist party for all the world’s states. After twenty years or so, the alternatives for this difficult epoch are: a third world war between the imperialist bloodsuckers – or International Communist Revolution. The emulators will die without the war!"
The period 1953-1973, like that other imperialist peace of 1900-13 is of short duration, 20 versus 13 years and with a similar rhythm of growth. We already know that capitalist cycles have a tendency to be attenuated. There is less similarity with the period 1920-29. In this period, there is the second period of peace – or more accurately ’reconstruction’, as the world is still in a state of turmoil after the war.
In the aforementioned columns, the table is similar to the one already published by the party in ’the Dialogue...’ For the years preceding 1913, we corrected some of the figures after having checked them.
For the years after 1913, having seen a clear correspondence between the two sets of data, we recalculated all the figures on the basis of the most recent table published by the UNO: this affected nothing significantly however.
Apart from this, the figures on Russia are all new. In point of fact, in 1973 the Russian central statistical bureau believed it an opportune moment to chuck all preceding reports on the course of the economy and the five-year plans – rather meagre and sibyline in any case – into the shredder, thereupon publishing a special edition of the year book which supplied new and more complete series: statistics destalinized! We have brought up to date the industrial production figures though. Which information conforms most to reality? Presumably the latter, seeing that they describe a slower development of Russian industrialization, whilst the adoption of the old series would show a huge mass of production such as to convince no-one, not even the most chauvinistic Siberian Kolhozian. The corrections made to the table tend to give additional verification of our laws, inasmuch as the rate of accumulation is shown to slow up faster, whilst Russia’s pace of development is brought more into line with the Western countries.
In addition, a column is added for a nerw country, Italy, which we insert, in order of capitalist seniority, after the United States and before Japan (though it is possible to situate Italian capitalism as far back as... Dante).
We can see, by comparing horizontally the data on the two additional periods, that the general slowing down of industrial production in relation to the previous year is born out, leading to the same results in the average rate of profit; which according to Marxist law must fall in every country founded on capital. Where there is capitalism, production increases to extremes, whilst the pace, relatively, slows down; where there is post-capitalism, production grows slowly (after the drastic period of successful revolutionary destruction) but at a constantly increasing pace.
In addition it will be noticed that the rate of growth for 1973-87 (about the same as the average annual population growth in the older capitalist countries continues incidentally) confirm the definitive completion of the earlier post-war reconstruction and imperialist senile euphoria.
To place Russia in the table of world powers is not a contradiction for whilst its collapse is more complete than the others in the 1st World War and revolution, as a consequence its recovery is a lot faster during the first Reconstruction; just like Germany and Japan after the 2nd World War. Russia is hardly affected by the world economic crisis of 1929-33, as it was involved in the first (or second) accumulation of capital; nevertheless, its rates are by this time already falling steadily: 22.6 - 19.1 - 17.1. It emerges from the 2nd World War in better shape than Europe and Japan, and, like their American ’comrades’, there is no slackening of growth in this period. Its recovery after the war is quick, but not at the same rate as after the first, in fact it exactly halves in the following cycle: 18.5 - 9.3 - 4.7. We await a 2.3% for the end of the century, like the U.S.A. of today perhaps?
Reading vertically, we can see Russia contrasted with the other tenants of the Gorbachevian ’home community’. Putting to one side the many and various effects of war and crises, we find Russian capital speeding ahead of Japan, whose growth is slowing up dramatically. Concentration of capital in Japan would shoot ahead of the Russian bear, but show signs of slowing up quicker.
As communists, we deal with these figures not out of a predilection
for seeing patterns in the past, but as a rehearsal for the destruction
of untenable positions in the future. The columns of figures yet to be
written will be ones of crises – general catastrophic crisis of the
mode of production, both amongst the Imperialisms with their shrunken
of 1% and in the less decayed Russian state capitalism. The ’reforms’
of Gorbachev, that reform nothing (nor can they reform anything), will
be unable to prevent Russian capital and society escaping crises and