[OPE-L] On Preobrazhensky and "socialist accumulation"

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Tue Dec 05 2006 - 11:45:04 EST


On another errand, I just had a read of an article by Mark Harrison (Warwick
University, UK) on "Soviet Primary Accumulation Processes" (in Science &
Society 45/4).

Harrison notes that Preobrazhensky himself in fact acknowledged that he did
not anticipate the (forced) collectivisation of the peasantry, and Harrison
writes as follows:

"In any case collectivisation failed to secure the "tribute" which Stalin
anticipated, because the collective farm economy was subjected to unforeseen
resistance, evasions and losses resulting in additional costs of
maintenance. In fact, from 1929 the agricultural surplus never financed more
than one-third  (from 1932 never more than one-fifth) of the annual rate of
Soviet industrial investment" (p. 390-391).

As sources Harrison cites A. A. Barsov and Michael Ellman. If true, the
greater part of the Soviet accumulation fund must obviously have derived
from workingclass surplus-labour, expropriations, and foreign/domestic

Harrison also notes that the concept of primary socialist accumulation in
fact originated with Vladimir Smirnov and Nikolai Bukharin in 1920, not
Evgeny Preobrazhensky. At the 10th Bolshevik Congress of 1921, Harrison
emphasizes, the programme sponsored by Trotsky and Bukharin for fullscale
compulsory mobilisation of labour by the state was however decisively
rejected. It was in the context of the New Economic Policy that
Preobrazhensky developed his concept of the transfer of agrarian surplus to
the state (via taxes and trade mark-ups) for industrialisation purposes.

"Perhaps [primary socialist accumulation] is not quite what its originators
thought" (p. 390).


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