THE SOVIET ECONOMIC REFORM
THE rapid rate of Soviet economic development, begun in 1921-1922, was based upon Lenin's theory that socialism and communism could be built in our country if public ownership of the means of production was established and the economy was centrally planned.
Lenin conceded that the period of so-called "military communism" (1918- 1921) had represented an attempt to establish socialism without market relations or trade, but on the basis of direct exchange of commodities between town and countryside, and that this attempt had been necessitated by the foreign military intervention rather than having been carefully worked out. Later Lenin pointed out that this had been a mistake, but a mistake that was quite understandable and even helpful. In order to find out the strength of a fortress it was first necessary to try to capture it by direct frontal attack. If this failed, there was no use in persisting in one's mistake; a long siege of the fortress had to be begun. Lenin concluded that the attempt could succeed if enthusiastically supported, but it would have to be based on economic accountability and personal material incentives for the working people.
Thus was laid the cornerstone for the building of socialist society, as a new, planned form of commodity production based on the law of value and commodity-monetary relations. It is important to bear in mind, however, that in the U.S.S.R. the law of value does not operate spontaneously, that is, anarchically, but within the framework of proportions and rates fixed in the overall economic plan. This is why the operation of the law of value never did and does not lead to economic anarchy, unemployment or crises and depressions. Just as the means of production could not be privately owned for gain, so the operation of the law of value under socialism has not led and cannot lead to the polarization of poverty and wealth and the creation of antagonistic class contradictions.
But the law of
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