The following article was originally published in Proletarian Revolution No. 27 (Winter 1987).

Gorbachev’s “Revolution”:

Can Russia Be Reformed?

A quarter of a century ago Nikita Khrushchev brimmed over with confidence in the future of the USSR. “We will bury you,” he told the United States, boasting that the Soviet economy would far outproduce the American. “Your grandchildren will live under communism.”

Although Khrushchev was ousted by his fellow bureaucrats for “harebrained schemes,” such official optimism still flourished under Leonid Brezhnev. But now, two Kremlin generations later, Mikhail Gorbachev tells a different story. Since coming to power in March 1985, the new General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union has been proclaiming that the beleaguered Soviet economy must be revamped.” Our “prime task,” he said at the party congress last February, is “to resolutely reverse the unfavorable trends in the economy, to restore its dynamism.” At first he called for a mere “acceleration.” Then he used the term “reform,” later “reconstruction.” Now he insists on nothing less than a “revolution.”

The USSR’s economy has indeed lost its dynamism. The long-term decline in growth rates has become especially intense since 1970; relative to the West and Japan, productivity is faltering in all the Soviet-model economies. Since Khrushchev’s day a number of Stalinist states—Yugoslavia, Hungary, and most recently and spectacularly, China—have increasingly adapted capitalistic market methods in the hope of escaping stagnation. Now it appears to be the Soviets’ turn. Moreover, Soviet theorists are no longer using the formula “developed socialism,” the standard label for the USSR under Brezhnev. “Really existing socialism” is taking a harsher, more realistic look at its real existence.

Gorbachev’s “revolutionary” reforms have the backing of economists of both East and West. Interestingly, spokesmen on both sides, as we will see, agree that Khrushchev’s grandchildren can no longer afford to live under “Marxism.” This is surely a question that Marxists have to investigate more closely.

The Siberian Solution

For background, consider the secret “Novosibirsk Report” issued in 1983 in that Siberian city by an economics institute connected to the USSR Academy of Sciences. Written by Academician Tatyana Zaslavskaya, the report has obviously become a blueprint of what Gorbachev wants. And the institute’s head, Abel Aganbegyan, an advocate of Western-style management techniques, has been appointed Gorbachev’s major economic adviser.

Zaslavskaya’s main point was that

The present system of production relations has substantially fallen behind the level of development of the productive forces. Instead of enabling their accelerated development, it is becoming more and more of a brake on their progressive advancement. (Survey, Spring 1984.)

These exact words could well have been written by a revolutionary Marxist. Indeed, they are a direct echo of Marx’s own theory:

At a certain stage of their development, the material forces of production come into conflict with the existing relations of production…within which they had been at work before. From forms of development of the forces of production these relations turn into their fetters. (Preface to the Critique of Political Economy.)

Zaslavskaya’s terminology also harkens back to Lenin, who showed that the productive relations have actually become a brake on the development of the productive forces of capitalism in its epoch of imperialist decay. This is equally true of Soviet-style statified capitalism, as we have argued in these pages for over ten years. Few enough Western leftists agree; for a high-ranking Soviet theorist to confirm our analysis is unusual to say the least.

Zaslavskaya’s Marxist verbiage, however, is fraudulent. If taken seriously her conclusion would demand a proletarian revolution as the only way out. It would require the abolition of the existing mode of production in the broad sense, the social-economic system as a whole. In this spirit Marx continued the passage cited above: “Then comes the period of social revolution.”

In contrast, Zaslavskaya meant “relations of production” only in the narrowest sense of personnel management relations—how to discipline the workers. In no way is she challenging the existing class relations, of which she is a prime beneficiary. Thus she goes on: “One outcome…is the inability of production relations to provide modes of conduct for the workers in the socio-economic sphere that are needed by society.”

In the guise of blaming the system for the worker’ faults, Zaslavskaya is really blaming the workers for the system’s faults. She lists the following problems: part-time effort, absenteeism, passivity and disinterest in work, alcoholism, even unspecified “stoppages” (that is, strikes). Workers lack discipline. She does exonerate the aristocracy of Soviet labor, “the main nucleus of skilled workers,” who, she claims in her elitist fashion, “work honestly.” Clearly her belief is that the great majority of Soviet workers are giving the state less than an honest day’s work.

We can already see Zaslavskaya’s major blind spot. As observant as she is about the bureaucratic mismanagement that is rife in the Soviet system, she has no conception of what makes proletarians tick. That the problems she lists might just be a manifestation of the class struggle, the day in and day out resistance that workers put up against the impositions and demands of their bosses, is unseen by our academician. Whether or not the bosses’ demands are made in the interest of efficiency, the workers fight back. It is not dishonesty that makes them do it, but capitalist relations.

Why should the situation be as bad as she describes? Why can’t the workers’ lack of cooperation with management, be controlled? Zaslavskaya recalls the old days under Stalin, when workers were disciplined not only by a strong police state but also by concealed economic pressures:

Although formally speaking there was no unemployment in the country, in many areas and branches there were hidden structural labor surpluses. Fear of losing his job and difficulties in finding a domicile hampered the workers’ mobility and firmly bound him to the enterprise. Migration of the rural population to the towns was limited by the inexistence of passports. …Therefore the main body of workers did not have a choice between work and leisure: the majority strove to work at full capacity…

But now things are different. In a June 1985 interview with Izvestia, she explained:

The overall level of well-being in the country has risen significantly. This has lessened the economic necessity of working hard in order to earn one’s living. Many people have the opportunity to choose: if they want to, they dedicate themselves to their work, and if they don’t want to their participation in social production is very limited. (Current Digest of the Soviet Press)

So what is needed is more and better discipline, order, regulation and control. The Novosibirsk report uses all these terms, saying nothing, naturally, of workers’ power as a mechanism for increasing workers’ “participation in social production.” But it does not leave the matter there. Discipline as it has hitherto been applied—centralized orders from above—does not really work. Centralized regulation is ignorant of specific, local conditions; arbitrary rules that obviously don’t apply are flouted both in letter and in spirit; the proliferation of contradictory rules gives malingerers the choice of which rules to obey.

Bosses Undermine Discipline

Above all, it turns out the bosses also undermine the economic discipline needed by the system. Here Zaslavskaya is treading on treacherous ground. Whereas under capitalism, she argues, the conflict between productive forces and productive relations leads to an intensified class struggle; under socialism, on the other hand, well, there is of course nothing of the kind yet things are pretty much the same. Citing the prevailing view “developed in political economy textbooks” that improvement of outmoded production relations can take place “without social conflict,” she carefully responds: “We must express doubt.”

The process of perfecting production relations under socialism runs a more complicated course than is commonly suggested, to the extent that the reorganization of the existing system of production relations is given over to social groups that occupy a somewhat more elevated position within this system and accordingly are bound to it through personal interest.

There are no privileged classes, of course, just a few groups in “a somewhat more elevated position within this system”—who have the power, moreover, to organize production in their own personal interest, and if necessary even prevent the “perfection” of the productive methods.

Dealing with this problem calls forth Zaslavskaya’s most ingenious efforts. The way to enforce economic discipline on the workers, and at the same time get around the obstacles created by self-interested bureaucrats, is to make discipline itself a matter of workers’ self-interest. It would be regulated not by distant officials but, on the one hand, by local managers whose individual interests will in theory coincide with the need to make their own enterprises work productively; and, on the other by the central state planners who genuinely have the interests of all of “socialist society” at heart. The tools these layers are to be given are called “economic methods of management” or incentives—both carrots and sticks.

It is in the interests of socialist society, while regulating the key aspects of the socio-economic activity of the workers, to leave them a sufficiently wide margin of freedom of individual behavior. Hence the necessity for directing behavior itself, i.e., the subjective relationship of the workers to their socio-economic activity. Administrative methods of management [that is, orders from Moscow] are powerless here. The management of behavior can only be accomplished in an oblique fashion, with the help of incentives which would take into account the economic and social demands of the workers and channel their interests in a direction which would be of benefit to our society.

(Zaslavskaya’s prose is itself an illustration of “management of behavior … in an oblique fashion.” When she speaks of altering the behavior of her fellow “group”-mates in a “somewhat elevated position”—the bosses—her bureaucratic/academic jargon gets a bit thick and indeed as oblique as that of her labor relations counterparts in the West.)

Russia and Marxist Theory

What Zaslavskaya proposed concretely was 1) to eliminate layers of intermediate bureaucrats in the ministries and departments (“which patently suffer from hypertrophy”), officials whose squabbling and interference get in the way of efficient planning and production; and 2) to set up forms of economic incentives for workers. In her Izvestia interview she spelled this out, again paraphrasing Marx:

First of all, most of [the forms] are in full accord with the economic laws of socialism. That’s the most important thing. When things are organized efficiently, people receive remuneration according to their work. In the process, of course, pay differentiation increases, as a rule. But that is a direct and natural result of the rising labor productivity of active people.

All wrong. The formula “to each according to his work,” based on. Marx’s analysis communist society in his Critique of the Gotha Program, has nothing in common with increasing pay differentiation. For Marx it required the revolutionary abolition of money, wages, classes and the other remnants of capitalism; it was a preliminary step toward the full communist goal, “to each according to his needs.” “To each according to his work” describes distribution under the lower stage of communism (or socialism), a classless society based on common ownership and collective production, but where scarcity of material goods still rules out distribution according to need. Here the ultimate of bourgeois equality can be achieved: equal amounts of labor would yield workers equal amounts of goods with no differentiation or incentives.

Under a labor-commodity system, which the USSR still is, the formula “to each according to his work” means something entirely different. It is an essential part of the law of value, a means for one class controlling another. The only thing “natural” about Zaslavskaya’s increasing pay differentiation is that it naturally occurs in capitalism, under whose economic laws workers are compelled to compete against one another for jobs in industries owned by the privileged classes.

In mimicking Marx’s words Zaslavskaya really echoed Stalin’s content of the early 1930s, when he expunged the Bolsheviks’ communist opposition to privilege. Marxism stands for the abolition of classes as a replacement for the bourgeoisie’s original goal of equality. Stalinism, under the guise of disdaining bourgeois aims, created a vast gap between privilege and deprivation—a necessary step for the counterrevolutionary reestablishment of classes and of capitalist relations. However, in recent years the gap has narrowed, because of the resistance of Soviet workers manifested in on-the-job resistance punctuated by important strikes—and reinforced by the proletarian upheavals in allied East Europe from the 1950s to today.

Thus the current reforms are aimed at restoring, at least in part, a particularly anti-proletarian aspect of the good old days. The wiping out of past working-class gains is the same process that is taking place in the West for similar reasons but by somewhat different methods. We can also note the views of Vadim Zagladin, the representative of the Soviet leadership at an Italian Communist Party conference this year. Commenting on the link between economic and political reforms, he said:

We are not thinking of becoming social democrats or of introducing the market economy, but we are raising the problem of enabling each class to make its voice heard clearly. …We have given greater autonomy to the unions, but the union organizations don’t yet know how to use it. (In These Times, October 8.)

Where Zaslavskaya only hints at the class nature of Soviet society, Zagladin doesn’t even bother to cover it up. The working class needs a “voice,” obviously because it has no say in running society. Like Western “quality of life” programs in the factories, giving workers some verbal safety valve is only an accompaniment to an overall crackdown on their living standards and working conditions. Under both systems some such outlet is necessary because workers are central to production. The stick needs a carrot, however minimal, lest the workers explode in a replay of the Polish Interfactory Strike Committee movement of 1980. Giving “autonomy” to the Soviet company unions is about the least that can be done.

Gorbachev’s Reforms

In his first year in office, the new Communist Party leader made his name through two campaigns. One of these has been the dismissal of hundreds of high-level officials, ranging from Brezhnev’s cronies in the Politburo to party and state leaders of national, regional and local bodies. In theory he is carrying out the Novosibirsk plan of eliminating unnecessary and inefficient middle bureaucrats. Shortly after taking office, “He called for expanding individual enterprises’ control over money and perquisites, including some say over levels of pay, incentives and bonuses. He also talked of expanding the state planning committee into a source of broad directives and ideas.” (New York Times, June 14, 1985.) The change from the sleepy standpattism of Brezhnev was so sweeping that poet Andrei Voznesensky wrote:

Rejoice rejoice, rejoice, rejoice at the new spirit over the land!
Rejoice in the storm that is blowing away those perched in exalted ranks!

Gorbachev, however, was not targeting only the exalted. His most publicized effort has been the campaign against alcoholism in the workplace. The Soviet system has been notoriously uninterested in the production of consumer goods. (For a Marxist explanation of this counter-preference, see Proletarian Revolution No.24, pages 20-21.) The exception that proved this role had been vodka, the production of which has long been a Soviet state monopoly bringing in great profits. For this reason it was one of the few consumer products encouraged by the Soviet rulers, despite its well-known harmful effects, and has always been plentifully available.

Drinking Discouraged

When Gorbachev took over as party 1eader, alcohol consumption was drastically reduced. Supplies were cut back, hours of sale reduced and prices hiked. According to reports, Soviet economists had calculated that the cost to the state from industrial and traffic accidents, worker absenteeism, disease, etc. was about 40 billion rubles annually, more than the revenue from vodka. So a capitalistic cost-benefit calculation—not concern for workers’ health and safety—caused the policy shift. (Detente, Spring 1986, and Labour Focus on Eastern Europe, May 1986.)

Zaslavskaya’s incentive wage schemes have also been officially promulgated, although it is too early to tell how deeply they have been carried out. According to the Soviet news agency Tass, echoing Zaslavskaya echoing Stalin distorting Marx:

The main aim is to enhance the entire pay system, to create a direct dependence between the amount and quality of work and pay, and to make the growth of pay dependent on the increase of labor productivity.

The restructuring of the pay system is aimed at insuring that the wages of each person are strictly in accordance with the volume of his or her contribution to national wealth. (New York Times, September 2.)

Another Gorbachev policy has been to advocate productivity improvements in outmoded plants through new technology. This is meant to overcome the longstanding inbuilt Soviet tradition of introducing new techniques only in newly constructed factories. This method was forced on the system because industrial managers and construction firms resisted any change in the processes they ran that might temporarily reduce their assigned (“planned’) output and therefore their expected bonuses. However, so far this Gorbachev goal has not taken effect; the only improvement in productivity has come through increased pressure on the workers. In a heavily publicized speech in Vladivostok in August Gorbachev himself complained,

A qualitative change that would really consolidate the trend for accelerated growth has not yet taken place. … It is inadmissible to give in to the difficulties and to the resistance of those accustomed to drifting by their own momentum and working in the old manner. (New York Times, August 4)

Soviet agriculture has been a notoriously stagnant sector since Stalin’s violent destruction of the private peasantry in the early 1930s. Among his proposals, therefore, Gorbachev has included a “tax in kind” for collective farmers along the lines of Lenin’s New Economic Policy of the 1920s. Through this the farmers can sell on the market all produce above a certain amount going to the state. Of course, when Lenin made his move the Soviet Union was a workers’ state, so it was possible that the strengthened market could still be controlled by and for the workers.

Gorbachev is reportedly also interested in studying the reforms of the Czarist minister Stolypin, whose policy was to bolster the regime by creating a strong class of capitalist peasants. His revival of NEP is taken by some as a hint of a general turn to a free market along Western lines. But he hasn’t gone this far—and he can’t, as we will see.

Foreign Trade De-monopolized

Very recently, the USSR has made a remarkable opening in the sphere of foreign trade toward the world capitalist market. It reduced its oil exports, crucial for obtaining Western currency, in order to avoid undercutting OPEC’s oligopolistic but decreasingly effective price controls; it has offered to join GATT, the capitalist trading group; it paid up ancient Czarist debts that had been repudiated on principle by the revolutionary Bolsheviks; and it has called for joint production arrangements with Western firms interested in operating in the USSR.

Most startling of all, it was announced in late September that 20 ministries and 70 large industrial firms will soon have the right to trade directly with foreign enterprises—thus in effect canceling the state-centralized monopoly of foreign trade that has been in effect since Lenin. Over the years this monopoly has served opposite ends. Under workers’ revolution, its purpose was to allow the backward Soviet economy to control its own internal development, with a minimum of external capitalist pressure. Only that way could it hold out until the world revolution toppled imperialism.

But since Stalin’s counterrevolution the monopoly has served only Russian nationalism. The ruling upper bureaucracy has tried to construct an autarkic economy—a utopian “capitalism in one country.” As with all protectionist schemes, this project aims to expand the national, state-owned capital at the expense of the workers as well as to fend off rivals abroad. The consequence for the USSR has been disastrous: overprotected Soviet enterprises now prove incapable of competing productively with the West. Gorbachev’s partial opening is an attempt to force internal reforms upon the reluctant wings of the bureaucracy, whose resistance is increasingly being made public by both sides.

Bourgeois Interpretations

Basically there are two bourgeois attitudes towards the reform campaign. One says that it means nothing. Nothing ever changes for the good behind the Iron Curtain; totalitarianism by definition can’t be reformed; you are a communist dupe for thinking so; and besides, the Soviet economy, especially its military, is growing by leaps and bounds so we all have to sacrifice our living standards to profits in order to induce patriotic businessmen to rev up the U.S.’s slackening economy, discipline laggard workers, and build weapons. That’s the same line that calls the Moscow manifesto a Kremlin fabrication.

There are also those who say the reforms mean something but not much, because the only real solution to the USSR’s economic crisis would be to model itself after the West; partial steps won’t do. Only a fully free market will suffice. The reasons given are: 1) that real incentives are needed, not just bonuses allocated from above but genuine profits that automatica1ly reward success; 2) an accurate price system is equally essential, one based on marginal utility theory. The argument goes that even Soviet economists recognize these needs because they too have come to understand that the law of value is no way to set prices.

With the latter point Marxists would certainly agree. Marx expounded the law of value in order to trace the development and decay of capitalism, which it does with respect to both traditional and statified variants. It is not a device for telling a capitalist or bureaucrat what prices to set. Moreover capitalist firms do not set prices according to marginal utility either; this is really an ideological justification for bourgeois inequality in the guise of a theory that claims to explain prices.

In both East and West prices are determined by much the same formula: cost plus mark-up for profit. In the West profit is based on what you think the market will bear; in the East official profit is set by decree. The main difference is that in the West because of its fewer restrictions on competition, costs are a better approximation to the true cost of a commodity in labor hours; there is less arbitrariness than in the East.

The Eastern concept has nothing to do with Marx’s understanding of the law of value which figures the value embodied in a commodity on the labor time socially necessary for its current production, not on what a firm or industry may actually have spent under wasteful and obsolete conditions. But that doesn’t prevent our experts from asserting the opposite. Here is one typically uninformed interpretation:

Price-setting in the USSR derives from Marx’s labor theory of va1ue with prices determined on the basis of labor expenditure (direct and indirect) going into a given product rather than from some calculation of its quality and utility. It makes badly operating enterprises look good, and it justifies excessive expenditure of resources. Such an approach acts as a barrier to technological progress. (Boris Rumer, “Realities of Gorbachev’s Economic Program,” Problems of Communism, May-June 1986)

In the same article, Rumer quotes Soviet economists who also claim that the Soviet “law of costs” as the basis for pricing is derived from Marx. However, if any of these experts had read even as far as the fourth or fifth page Marx’s Capital they would have had to invent a different lie. “Some people might think if the value of a commodity is determined by the quantity of labor spent on it the more idle and unskillful the laborer, the more valuable would his commodity be, because more time would be required in its production.” And then follows Marx’s explanation of socially necessary labor time.

Their differences apart, Eastern and Western academics agree on the principle that anything, however foreign to Marx’s thought or however much he may have insisted en the exact opposite, can be ascribed to Marx—as long as it discredits Marxism as a scientific theory. “Socia1ism” amid misery and “value” based on backwardness are only the most common such lies.

Gorbachev vs. Reality

Whatever the misrepresentations by bourgeois propagandists, they do share the triumphant feeling that the Soviet authorities are being forced to transform their economic system to make it more like the West. The Soviets, of course, deny any such thing.

A Soviet comparative view of the two systems would argue that although the Western system doesn’t encourage obsolete enterprises to proliferate, this “efficiency” has grave consequences. Backward steel plants in the U. S. are shut down because they’re unprofitable (due to the competition from super-exploitation of workers in countries like South Korea, etc); but then America is short of steel, so housing, highways, railroads and industry decay and unemployment skyrockets. What a tremendous waste of resources! We, on the other hand, have no wasted lives through unemployment, crime stemming from desperation for money, etc. We have no wish to emulate you. And despite our old-fashioned technique, we are the world’s greatest steel producers.

The last point is true, but it is also true that the USSR produces so much steel because so much of it is wasted through overuse, lack of use and poor quality. Thus Soviet steel doesn’t get to housing and other consumer uses either. As for unemployment, there may only minuscule amounts in Russia due to overmanning in the factories, but there is plenty in China and Yugoslavia under the same system. There was none in Nazi Germany either; up to a point it’s a matter of choice of what methods the ruling classes use to police the workers. The Soviet bureaucracy is openly drooling for it today. Fear of the workers’ response is more of a consideration for the Soviet rulers than for the Chinese. The example of Poland still sits on Russia’s doorstep.

What the Eastern and Western variants of modern capitalism have in common is the organization of the economy into separate capitals. In the West the capitals are relatively independent of their specific location or use-values they are invested in; they can pack up and move after a period of time, or invest elsewhere; This “freedom” is symbolized by the stock market, through which capitalists take out shares in each others’ capitals.

East vs. West

In contrast, in the East the capital belonging to the various enterprises is tied to specific plants and machinery: fixed capital is fixed, not only in the technical sense that it doesn’t circulate, but also in its ownership. Hence there is institutional resistance to the abandonment or destruction of any existing machinery or plant; some baronial bureaucrat’s fiefdom is always at stake. And since power over the enterprises is exercised in hierarchical fashion—firms are subject to ministerial and regional authorities, which in turn are subordinated to the national center—there are autocrats at all levels interested in defending each fiefdom.

This is the system created by Stalin in the 1930s; its aim was to build up the nation by tying each bureaucrat to some specific capital, either locally or further up the hierarchy. It was a necessary step in separating the privileged bureaucracy from its original base in the working class, and therefore in ultimately wresting state power from the proletariat. Its principle, the maximization of the national capital, means the conservation of every last molecule of value. This parochial protectionism inheres as well in each separate part of the economy. No wonder the barons are continually at odds with the kings and the kings are at odds with each other.

In the West, each capital seeks to maximize its value independently and at the expense of all others—and uses its mobility to do so. Hence the permanent anarchy, periodic crises and imperialist profiteering that characterizes traditional capitalism. In the East each tied-down capital also seeks to maximize its value and is likewise perfectly happy to let the others go to the devil. Hence the unconcern for quality of output and disdain for consumer needs—and therefore the stagnant overall growth—that typify Stalinism. The ultimate absurdity is the competition and even shooting warfare that breaks out among the “comrades” of different national persuasions.

In both East and West, surplus value is extracted by exploiting proletarian labor, and bosses are rewarded by how well they do this. Hence bosses’ interests are always sectoral, tied either to some specific capital or fraction in the West or to some local enterprise or grouping in the East. In neither variant is there a force to press for overall social well being, not even the well being of the bosses as a whole. Not only is there gross class differentiation, but also intense competition among the bosses and systemic crises.

The real need for the Gorbachev reforms, the widening of the gaps between and within the classes, arises from the worldwide crisis of capitalism. The workers have to be compelled to produce more with little more reward, or none. Unemployment, growing in the West, is now demanded in the East. In the Soviet system, where the crisis is deeper, the workers are all the more dangerous. Both more deprived of modern commodities and more concentrated in large factories and workplaces, they are a powerful explosive force. That is why “democracy” is impossible, despite the Moscow manifesto and the hopes of Western liberals. Gorbachev’s incentives are aimed at getting each bureaucratic baron to crack down on his workers without triggering a national movement in response as in Poland.

On the surface, Gorbachev’s reforms are directed against the waste in the Stalinist economy that results from its nationalist, baronial nature—but they are not at all intended to overthrow this sectoralist structure. In China, where the reforms have already gone much further, stock market trading has been introduced in order to allow enterprises to invest spare capital and thereby to transfer financial backing to profitable firms—not to raise individual entrepreneurs (who flourish on a small scale) to the commanding economic heights. Likewise, the less far-reaching Soviet reforms, both disciplinary and restructuring, have strengthened certain sections of the bureaucracy at the expense of others—but bureaucratic rule survives intact.

Nevertheless, it is indicative that all the reforms of “socialist” society lean in the direction of traditional capitalism. So much so that all the essential criteria that would-be Marxist analysts have set up to distinguish these allegedly proletarian states from capita1ism—centralized planning, state ownership, the monopoly of foreign trade—have been abandoned. The theoretical point is this: a system that can reform itself into a variant of capitalism without a violent counterevo1olution must have been a variant of capitalism to begin with.

No possible solution to the problems of capitalism in its epoch of decay can be found by reforming one variant in the direction of the other. Substantive change is possible only through the agency of the working class, the one class in capitalist society which has no fundamental local or sectoral interests. After an internationalist proletarian revolution the key to economics will be genuine equality and centralization, so that the interests of the workers as a whole are paramount. This is an outcome hateful to capitalists of every denomination: Western bourgeois, bureaucratic reformers and their Stalinist opponents alike. But it is the only way out.

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