[Marxism] RE: USSR, Democracy and the Environment

DoC donaloc at hotmail.com
Mon May 17 04:39:08 MDT 2004

Calvin Broadbent wrote:
> Do you think, as some
> Trotskyists seem to have it, that given that (or 'if') the USSR was in
> competition with the capitalist West, and trying to 'outproduce' it
> outperform the West economically, that the 'law of value', the
> determination of production according to the laws of exchange value,
> still in operation?

In short, I think it certainly was - although perhaps Melvin will be
able to further detail it all. As far as I know, the law of value was
applied thoroughly throughout the planning process in the Soviet Union.

I've read some Trotskyites say that this rigid reading and application
of the 'law of value' as a means to determine all production was wrong.
I think that they criticise this as an adoption to a form of analysis
worked up by Marx and Engels to simply explain exploitation within
capitalist society. They say it was not necessary to continue this
beyond the revolution.

Interesting to read on this is Che Guevara who essentially argued that
bypassing the law of value was necessary to build socialist
consciousness and to actually take full advantage of the creative
possibilities open to socialism when it decides to do things for a
socially valuable rather than an economically valuable sense. Critics
have said that this was unsuccessful because it was 'voluntaristic' and
also many took advantage of the lax controls in place to cover lack of
delivery. Having said that, I certainly think that in an advanced
Socialist state this is a key question to be thinking about.

In regard to the Soviet Union and the Trotskyite critics, the Soviet
Union had to trade and compete with the Western Bloc for many things.
This would have represented a gap where the law of value would seep into
the operation of the Soviet economy - even if this had have been
entirely rejected by the then leadership (in a Guevarist sense). So in a
sense, it was unavoidable coming in at some stage.

To base the discussion on something tangible, it is probably best to
study Cuban economics in the 1960s - good place to start is either the
Pathfinder or Ocean Press books on Guevara's Economics. There's a good
short review on Cuban economics out there you should be able to obtain
by a guy called Douglas Hamilton from the Cuba Solidarity Group in
Belfast. There's lots of references to further reading sources at the
back of that if you are interested. The changes in policy in regard to
whether to transcend the law of value can be checked against their
impacts on actual economic output (of course there are lots of other
factors coming into play there too).

Is mise

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