Courtesy Reuters

Planning in the Soviet Union

IT IS natural enough that this should be a time when different methods, systems and schemes of economic planning are being broadly discussed, a time, too, when practical steps are actually being taken to realize some schemes which -- in the view of their authors -- are forms of partial social economic planning. Capitalistic countries are immersed in an unprecedented crisis. A cure for overproduction, mass unemployment and other accompanying phenomena is eagerly sought. Planning is the direct antithesis to economic anarchy -- anarchy in investment, in production and in distribution. Hence some people in capitalist countries look to planning as a possible cure for all ills, and its modes and technique attract special interest. To these people it seems something like a brand new system of industrial machinery, a fresh technical invention, which only has to be installed to begin its wonders of salvation. We in the Soviet Union think that the matter is considerably more complicated than that.

In the Soviet Union economic planning is not regarded as a social mechanism by itself, but only as an essential part of a total, which conditionally may be called new economic machinery. Social economic planning, we think, presupposes a specific social background and cannot achieve its purpose when that background is lacking.[i]

The planning system in the U. S. S. R. is based on the socialization of all means of production, mass transportation and distribution, with all the concentration of control implicit in such socialization and the existence of proletarian rule. Abolition of classes, of class distinctions, of the social division of labor, is a natural corollary to these principles. Speculation, waste and parasitic consumption are eliminated. On the other hand, since socialized economy is based on the conscious coöperation of the working masses, one of the prerequisites of socialistic economy is a steady rise, not only in their culture and standard of living, but in their social perception and social activity. This calls for an immense development of education,

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