Translated and Edited by Mike Baker: published by the
Movement for Workers' Councils, London 1990.
Marked up by Jonas Holmgren for the Marxists Internet Archive.
The proletarian revolution, which conceives of the establishment of communism not as nationalisation of the "mature" industrial establishments, but as the carrying through in practice of a principle according to which all producers themselves take measures under their own initiative to integrate their labour with the communist system of production, thereby simultaneously provides the basis for the incorporation of the whole of agriculture as a specific section of total production into the communist economic system. The single unifying principle underlying and making possible this economic integration resides in the creation and consolidation of a unit of economic regulation and control which registers the flow of products continually in motion within society. Such a unit is achieved through the determination of the average social reproduction time required by each product. Through the instrumentality of this system, each productive establishment becomes an active cell in the growth of communism, a cell in which the autonomous initiatives and self-activity of the proletariat can unfold and develop.
Once the power of the industrial proletariat has been irrevocably anchored in the Council system, than it cannot proceed in any other way than to extend the same organisational principle to the sphere of agriculture. In every economic system, production is operationally dependent upon the organisational integrity of the structure within which it moves and develops; however, exactly what form the Council system would assume in its application to agrarian production is another question which only the future can answer. Even though the general principles through which the Council system operates are the same for agriculture as for industry, there are nevertheless many particular situations which would dictate that this general system in particular cases assumes many different and varied forms. Practice itself would, for instance, almost certainly bring to light the fact that proletarian consciousness would be much more fully and powerfully developed in the case of industrial workers than in that of the agricultural proletariat, whilst a further cause for a differing mode of application of the Council principle would lie in the different natural conditions of production prevailing between industry and agriculture.
However this may be, the decisive factor will be the cooperative organisation of the peasants into village communes, which in the last analysis will be nothing other than the outcome of combining together the productive organisations at present existing in the form of the various individual farmsteads. Of their own initiative, however, the peasants will not achieve this, so that, in addition to a very persuasive propaganda campaign, the economic control of the proletariat must ensure measures which guarantee such a development. These measures would ensure that such essential supplies such as agricultural implements, seed, artificial fertilisers, petroleum, etc., would be supplied only to those agricultural organisations which had taken the decisive step of combining into village communes. The firmer the industrial proletariat holds power, the more certain will be the eventual carrying through of autonomous organisation within the peasantry.
The peasants, then, have the responsibility, like the industrial workers, of computing, by application of the formula (p + c) + L, the Average Social Reproduction Time of their products. It is the capitalist system, which was responsible in the first place for transforming the peasants into commodity producers, which we must thank for the fact that this task is one eminently capable of fulfilment. The practicality of applying such a method of computation is, for instance, clearly demonstrated through the fact that, today, modern methods of cost accounting find as frequent application in agriculture as they do in industry (see J.S. King: Cost Accounting Applied in Agriculture).
Nevertheless, the fact remains that, in this matter, we are standing at the very threshold of a long development. When one considers, however, that this young science began life only in 1922, then one sees that it is a cause for amazement to observe how rapidly such general principles, valid in both the industrial and agricultural spheres of production, have established themselves. What this proves above all else is that, in reality, the fundamental character of the two production spheres is the same, and that agricultural production has long since made the transition to industry. It is true that the weight of tradition still makes itself felt here as an inhibiting factor, but the disadvantageous financial situation prevailing in agriculture throughout most of Western Europe will undermine this influence very rapidly. Whoever comes into close contact with the peasants will know that in their case many of the old "truths" are rapidly being exposed as fantasy and new ones are being continually born in their place. Of course, this does not bear any relation to communist production, but it does find application in such measures as rationalisation, modern industrial management and the formation of cooperatives. As far as the communist mode of production is concerned, the significance of this lies in the fact that the objective conditions for a many-sided implementation of the system of average social reproduction time are developing very quickly.
There remains of course always an appreciable difference between industrial and agrarian production. In the main, these are due to the differing natural production conditions. For instance, the incidence of rainfall or drought, plant or animal diseases and so on,, play a role in agriculture, so that the productivity of agricultural establishments cannot be so exactly forecast and estimated as is possible in industry. Nevertheless, comparisons of productivity between the separate establishments are perfectly accountable (see again J.S. King: Cost Accounting Applied in Agriculture), and such comparisons are made even today. This indeed, has already become the acid test for rationalisation in farm establishments. As regards the question of methods for determining the various average social reproduction times, it is not our task to conjure up out of the tops of our heads methods which would explain how this task could be achieved in each separate case. One thing however is clear: the realisation of this category will lead to a complete reorganisation of the whole of the agricultural economy. In addition, a factor which will be seen as a natural necessity will be that the reproduction period, instead of extending over a period of production, will encompass as long a time-span as, for instance, as 10 years. It is the capriciousness of natural phenomena and the conditions this imposes which make this necessary, since the variations and fluctuations arising from such unpredictable factors are more readily averaged out over a longer period of time; in this way, when drawing up computations of Average Social Reproduction Time, it will be necessary to overcome those fluctuations in production which unavoidably result from such changes in natural conditions. There would then remain only that spontaneous fall in average social reproduction times resulting from a progressively rising productivity.