N.I. Bukharin: Historical Materialism - a System of Sociology


7: Disturbance and Readjustment of Social Equilibrium

a.The Process of Social Changes and the Productive Forces

The process of social changes is closely connected with changes in the condition of the productive forces. This movement of the productive forces, and the movement and regrouping of all social elements, involved in it, is nothing more nor less than a process of constant disturbance of social equilibrium, followed by reestablishments of equilibrium. Indeed, a progressive movement of the productive forces implies above all that a contradiction has arisen between the social technique and the social economy: the system loses its equilibrium. The productive forces have increased to certain extent; a certain regrouping of persons must be undertaken, for otherwise there is no equilibrium, i.e., the system cannot permanently endure in its present form. This contradiction'. eliminated by means of the following regrouping of men: economy "adapts itself" to the condition of the productive forces, to the social technology. But the regrouping of persons in the economic apparatus also implies a necessary regrouping of persons in the social-political structure of society (a different combination parties, a different alignment of the forces of the parties, etc.) Furthermore, the same condition necessarily demands a change in legal, moral, and all other standards. For the contradiction can be solved only in this way, or, what amounts to the same thing, the equilibrium between the system of persons and the system of standards cannot be reestablished in any other way. The same true also of the entire psychology of society, as well as of its ideology. G. V. Plekhanov has brilliantly stated this: "The origin, change, and destruction of the association of ideas, under influence of the origin, change and destruction of certain combina nations of social forces, to a predominant extent explain the history of ideology." 1) The new "combination", i.e., the new relation between persons, comes in conflict with the old combination (the old associations of ideas). This means a destruction of the internal equilibrium, which is reestablished on a new basis, a new "combination" of ideas originates, i.e., where there is an adaptation on the part of the social psychology and the social ideology, which equilibrium is again disturbed, etc., etc.

We now encounter a problem that is of immense theoretical and practical significance.

We may conceive of the restoration of social equilibrium as proceeding in either of two ways: that of a gradual adaptation of the various elements in the social whole (evolution), and that of violent upheaval (revolution). We have seen from history that revolutions do sometimes occur; they are historical facts. It will be interesting to learn under what circumstances the adaptation of the various elements of society proceeds by evolution, and under what circumstances by revolution.

This will involve a discussion of a number of other questions concerning the dynamics of society. We know, for instance, that any given society is constantly undergoing change, experiencing internal regroupings, alterations of form and content, etc. We know that this process is connected with the evolution of the productive forces. But we sometimes witness changes within the limits of the identical social-economic structure; and, at other times, a transition from one "species" of society to another, the substitution of one "mode of production" for another "mode of production". When will the one result, and when the other?

A general description of the process of social evolution is given by Marx in his A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy:

"At a certain stage of their development, the material forces of production in society come in conflict with the existing relations production, or - what is but a legal expression for the same thing - with the property relations within which they had been at work before. From forms of development of the forces of production these relations turn into their fetters. Then comes the period of social revolution. With the change of the economic foundation the entire immense superstructure is more or less rapidly transformed. In considering such transformations, the distinction should always be made between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, aesthetic or philosophic - in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out. Just as our opinion of an individual is not based on what he thinks of himself, so can we not judge of such a period of transformation by its own consciousness; on the contrary, this consciousness must rather be explained from the contradictions of material life, from the existing conflict between the social forces of production and the relations of production" (A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, New York, 1904, p.12).

Marx therefore conceives of revolution as intervening when the equilibrium between the productive forces of society and the foundations of its economic structure is disturbed; such is the content of the conflict solved by revolution; this; of course, means the transition from one form to another. But so long as the economic structure still permits the productive forces to evolve the social changes will not take the form of revolution; we shall here find evolution instead.

This question will be taken up in detail later, but we shall now emphasize the following point. According to Marx, the cause of revolution is not at all to be sought in a collision between economy' and law, as many critics of Marxism maintain, but in a collision between the productive forces and economy, which is quite a different matter, as will be shown in the sequel.

b.The Productive Forces and the Social-Economic Structure.

We have stated that the cause of revolution, of a violent transition from one type to another, must be sought in a conflict proceeding between the productive forces, and their growth, on the one hand, and the economic structure of society, i.e., the production relations, on the other hand. The following objection might be raised: since the evolution of the production relations is conditioned by the movement of the productive forces, is not the constant alteration of the production relations in itself a result of the conflict between the productive forces and the antiquated production relations? If we take the example of the growth of productive forces in capitalistic society, we shall find that this growth has involved extensive regrouping of persons in the economic process. The old middle class melted away, the artisan class disappeared, the proletariat increased, great enterprises grew up. The human network of production was constantly changing. Further more, did not one form of capitalism lead into another; for instance, was not industrial capitalism followed by financial capitalism, entirely without revolution? Yet, all these changes were the expression of a constant disturbance of equilibrium (a conflict) between the productive forces and the production relations. While the productive forces were growing, they collided with the petty artisan conditions; this was a disturbance of equilibrium; the economy of the artisan was no longer compatible with the increasing technique. The lost equilibrium was again and again restored, already on a new basis, for the new economy was also increased, corresponding to the new technique. It therefore obviously follows that not every conflict between the productive forces and the production relations results in revolution, that the case is much more complicated than that. To determine which kinds of conflict produce a revolutionary crisis we must take up an analysis of the various kinds of production relations.

Production relations are, of course, all kinds of relations between persons, arising in the process of the social economic life, i.e., in the production process, which also includes the distribution of means of production, as well as in the process of the distribution of products. Of course, these production relations are of many kinds: a broker in Paris, who buys shares of a New York trust, is thus assuming a certain production relation to the workers and owners, the superintendents and engineers, of the factories belonging to this trust. The banker who employs bookkeepers stands in a certain production relation with them. Likewise, the joiner has certain production relations with the lathe-workers in the same factory, or with the fish-wife from whom he buys a herring, or with the foreman above him. But the same joiner also has certain relations with the fisherman who catches the herring, with the weaver who is one of the many persons concerned in the manufacture of his trousers, etc., etc. In short, we have a truly endless quantity of different and varied production relations, distinct from each other according to the type of relation. Our task therefore will be to differentiate between the various species of these relations, and to determine what is the species of production relations in which a conflict would lead to revolution.

In order to have a sound actual basis for our answer, we must learn how revolutions have actually operated, i.e., in what manner they have solved the contradiction between the evolution of the productive forces and the economic basis of society. To be sure, this conflict has always been waged by men; the class struggle has been a hard one. What has been the outcome of the victorious revolution? First a different political power. Second a different place of classes in the process of production, a different distribution of instruments of production, which, as we know, are directly connected with the situation of the classes. In other words, the struggle during a revolution is waged for the control of the most important instruments of production, which in a class society in the hands of a class which consolidates its rule over things, and through them, over persons, by the additional power of its state organization. This leads us to the decisive point in our search for those production relations that require a revolution for their destruction, in order that society may continue to develop its productive forces. In the Third Volume of Capital, Marx categorically states the problem of the form of society and points out the fundamental, specific element in the total phenomenon of the productive relations: "The specific economic form, in which unpaid surplus labor is pumped out of the direct producers, determines the relations of rulers and ruled, as it grows immediately out of production itself and reacts upon it as a determining element Upon this is founded the entire formation of the economic community which grows up out of the conditions of production itself, and this also determines its specific political shape. It is always the direct relation of the owners of the conditions of production to the direct producers, which reveals the innermost secret, the hidden foundation of the entire social construction, and with it of the political form of the relations between sovereignty and dependence, in short, of the corresponding form of the state." 2) The matter therefore stands as follows: among all the varied production relations, one type of such relations stands foremost, namely the type that is expressive of the relations between the classes which hold the principal means of production in their hands, and the other classes which hold either subsidiary means or no such means at all. The class that is dominant in economy will also be dominant in politics and will politically fortify the specific type of production relations which will give security to the process of exploitation operating in favor of this class. "Politics," to use; the expression found in one of the resolutions of the Ninth Congress of the Russian Communist Party, "is the concentrated expression of economy."

The same thing may be stated in somewhat different words. We have observed that not all the production relations are here concerned, but only of the economic domination supported by a specific relation to things, to instruments of production. In the language of the jurists, we are concerned here with fundamental "property relations", with relations of class property in the instruments of production. These property relations are identical with the fundamental production relations; they are merely another way of saying the same thing, legally this time, instead of economically. And these relations are now associated also with the political domination of the specific class; they are maintained by this domination, fortified and extended at any price.

Within this frame, all possible variations of "evolutionary nature" may take place; but we may pass beyond the frame only with the aid of a revolutionary upheaval. For example: within the limits of capitalist property relations, artisan trades may perish, new forms of capitalist enterprises may originate, capitalist organizations of unheard-of varieties may spring into being; individual members of the bourgeois classes may become bankrupt; individual members of the working class may become petty or even large-scale industrialists; new social strata (for instance, the so called "new middle class", i.e., "the technical mental workers") may grow up. But the working class cannot become the owner of the means of production, nor can it (or its representatives) secure command of production, or dispose of the most important instruments of production. In other words: however much the production relations may shift under the influence of the increasing productive forces, their fundamental character remains the same. If this fundamental character should come in conflict with the productive forces, it will break up. This is revolution, which affords a transition to another form of society. "To the extent that the labor process is a simple process between man and nature, its simple elements remain the same in all social forms of development. But every definite historical form of this process develops more and more its material foundations and social forms. Whenever a certain maturity is reached, one definite social form is discarded and displaced by a higher one. The time for the coming of such a crisis is announced by the depth and breadth of the contradictions and antagonisms which separate the conditions of distribution, and with them the definite historical form of the corresponding conditions of production, from the productive forces, the productivity, and development of their agencies. A conflict then arises between the material development of production, and its social form."3)

Revolution therefore occurs when there is an outright conflict between the increased productive forces, which can no longer be housed within the envelope of the production relations, and which constitutes the fundamental web of these production relations, i.e. property relations, ownership in the instruments of production. This envelope is then burst asunder.

It is easy to see why this should be the case, why precisely these production relations should constitute the most immutable, the most conservative form: for they are the expression of the economic monopoly rule of a class, as affirmed and expressed in its political domination. And, of course, it is only natural that such an "envelope" as would express the fundamental interests of the class would be held together by this class to the bitter end, while alterations within the envelope, not disturbing the essential bases of the existing society, may and do proceed rather painlessly. It follows, among other things, that there are no "purely political" revolutions: every revolution is a social (class-displacing) revolution; and every social revolution is a political revolution. For the production relations cannot be overturned without also upsetting the political congelation of these relations; on the other hand, if the political power is broken, this also means the destruction of the domination of this class in economy, for "politics is the concentrated expression of economy". Some persons consider that the French Revolution differs from the Russian Revolution in the sense that the former was a political revolution and the latter a social revolution. For, in the Bolshevik Revolution, politics and political changes did not play a greater role than in the French Revolution, while the alterations in the production relations were incomparably greater.

This "objection" is merely a confirmation of the statements we have made above. Let us consider this question of the political phase. We all know that during the French Revolution the power passed from the hands of one set of owners into the hands of another set. The bourgeoisie destroyed the feudal commercial state and organized the state of the bourgeoisie. In Russia, on the other hand, the organization of all owners was swept away. The political upheaval went far deeper, corresponding to the deeper penetration of the displacement of the production relations (nationalization of industry, abolition of landed estates, beginnings of the socialist order of society, etc.).

Therefore: the cause of revolutions is the conflict between the productive forces and the productive relations, as solidified in the political organization of the ruling class. These production relations are so emphatic a brake on the evolution of the productive forces that they simply must be broken up if society is to continue to develop. If they cannot be burst asunder, they will prevent and stifle the unfolding of the productive forces, and the entire society will become stagnant or retrogressive, i.e., it will enter upon a period of decay.

From the above remarks, the reader will understand why society was able to transform itself, for instance, from the primitive communist condition, by way of evolution, into a patriarchal society, and then into a feudal society. Under primitive communism, there was no class rule over the means of production and no political power for the protection of such a rule. On the contrary, such rule, as well as the use of force, grew up by evolutionary process from the primitive communist production relations, owing to the growth of private property, etc. The productive forces expanded, accompanied by an increasing differentiation, an increasing experience on the part of the eldest of the clan, the development of private property, a segregation of the ruling class thus formed. Formerly, there had been no ruling class, no ruling power; therefore, there was nothing to be destroyed; therefore, the transition took place without a revolution.

H. Cunow, who in his two-volume work reduces Marx to an innocent liberal lamb, writes the following concerning revolution: "When Marx, accordingly, speaks in the above sentence of social conditions and social revolution (in his Critique of Political Economy. N. B.), he does not mean, as is suggested by others, a political fight for power, but the transformation of the social conditions of life following upon the blossoming forth of a new and altered mode of production". According to Marx's view, an alteration in the mode of production, particularly if the state government should seek to maintain by force the antiquated laws corresponding to an older stage in the economic relations, may lead to a political revolution or eruption of the masses of the people; but this need not necessarily be the case. The upheaval of the political and social conditions of life, as well as the ideologies, brought about by a change in the economic structure, may be achieved gradually without uprisings and street battles (for instance, by parliamentary methods)." (Heinrich Cunow: Die Maxsche Geschichts-Gesellschafts- und Staatstheorie, Berlin 1921, vol. ii, p.315). The above quotations from the honorable Social-Democratic professor are a horrible example of the mental confusion of a vulgar-liberal eclectic. In fact, in the sentence in which Marx speaks of revolution, he considered its cause to be, as we have seen, the conflict between the productive forces and the production relations. The revolutionary solution of this conflict is precisely the breakdown of the production relations and the state forms expressing them. But in Cunow's mind, the new mode of production arises ready-made, Lord knows whence and how, perhaps later (!) leading to a political revolution. This is so gorgeous, so "brilliant," that it is hard to keep up with it. Cunow considers the case of socialism somewhat as follows: capitalism will be peacably succeeded by the socialist mode of production; the capitalists in the government will observe this miracle and marvel thereat; and then they will begin, by the use of force (or perhaps without the use of force) to battle against the alterations already accomplished in the mode of production (i.e., they will begin - if we may put it thus - to demand their profits, which everyone has been forgetting). Then, not until then, an indignant nation, fighting behind barricades, will drive them out. This is a fine cartoon for a humorous weekly, but hardly material for a learned work. Cunow provides us with a great accumulation of erroneous views. In the first place, the essence of the conflict is not properly formulated (Cunow is here copying from Mr. P Struve, whose article in Braun's Archiv was brilliantly annihilated by G. V. Plekhanov years ago); in the second place, the actual phase of the revolutionary process are entirely distorted; in the third place, revolution itself disappears altogether from revolution. What is revolution which does not even involve a political upheaval? The preceding alteration in the mode of production here does not operate catastrophically, but quite cautiously; it is reflected in politics by parliamentary manipulations; that is all. Herr Cunow here relinquishes the Marxian theory as thoroughly and shamelessly as he has been relinquishing Marxian practice in the latter years. And this, at a time when even the stupidest bourgeois professors seem inclined to regard revolutions as phenomena which constantly arise, with a sort of inner necessity, from a given condition of society. (Cf. Schriften der deutschen Gesellschaft für Politik an der Universität Halle-Wittenberg, ed. by Prof. H. Waentig, No. 1: Die grossen Revolutionen als Entwicklungserscheinungen im Leben der Völker.)

A brief examination of the causes of revolutions will be illuminating The bourgeois revolutions (the English Revolution of the Seventeenth Century, the French Revolution at the end of the Eighteenth) have been excellently characterized - in a few lines - by Marx: "The revolutions of 1648 and 1789 were not mere English or French revolutions, but revolutions on a European scale. They were not a victory of a specific class of society over the old political order; they were the announcement of the political order of the new European society (i.e., the new production relations. N. B.). In them the bourgeoisie was victorious; but the victory of the bourgeoisie then meant the victory of the new order of society of bourgeois property over feudal property, of nationality over provincialism, of competition over the guild, of division (of the soil. N. B.) over the right of primogeniture, of domination by the owner of the soil over domination of the owner by the soil, of industry over magnificent idling, of bourgeois justice over medieval privileges" (Marx: Aus dem literarischen Nachlass, vol. iii, Stuttgart 1920, pp.211, 212). In the period of bourgeois revolution, the chief obstacles to development were the following production relations: first, feudal ownership of land; second, the guild system in the rising industry; third, trade monopoly, perpetuating the whole by means of countless legal standards. The private ownership of property by the landholders led to countless imposts; most peasants were obliged to pay a "hunger rent," and the internal market for industry was extremely limited. In order that industry might develop, the feudal ownership laws had just to be broken "The rents" says Thorold Rogers (in The Economic Interpretation of History, London, 1891, Fisher Unwin, p.174), speaking of English rents in the Seventeenth Century, "began as competitive rents and are rapidly transformed into hunger-rents, by which I mean such rents as leave the tenant a bare subsistence, with the result that he is enabled neither to save nor to undertake improvements" (quoted by Eduard Bernstein, in Sozialismus und Demokratie in der grossen englischen Revolution, Stuttgart 1908, p.10).

In France, before the Revolution, "the people languished under the burden of taxes raised by the state, of duties paid to the landowner, of the tithes for the clergy, and compulsory service for all three. In every province, you could observe hosts of five thousand, ten thousand, of twenty thousand persons, men, women, children, wandering about on the roads. In 1777 an official estimate placed the number of beggars at 1,100,000; famine was chronic in the villages, recurring at frequent intervals and devastating entire provinces. Peasants deserted their villages in great numbers, etc." (P. Kropotkin: The Great French Revolution, London, 1921, p.16). Taxes and tributes were of infinite number and variety (ibid., p.36 et seq., also Luchitski: The Condition of the Agricultural Classes in France on the Eve of the Revolution, and the Agrarian Reform of 1789-1793, Kiev 1912, in Russian). All of these were different manifestations and expressions of feudal landownership. Property in land, which reduced the peasants to mendicants, simultaneously prevented the growth of industry, gave clear evidence of its retarding effect on the productive forces in Russia also. (Starvation rents, impoverishment of the peasantry, insignificant domestic markets, etc. - this combination was also the main cause of the Revolution of 1905. S. Maslov: Die Agrarfrage in Russland, Stuttgart 1907; also, Lenin's essays: On the Agrarian Question in Russia, in Russian.)

The Guild organization of industry retarded the growth of the productive forces at every step; for instance, in English history there was not only a seven-year apprenticeship, but also a rule permitting merchants and masters in many branches of production to employ only the sons of freemen, having a certain amount of land, as apprentices. A system of petty regulations prevailed. Naturally, in view of the general dispersion of production, there was no possibility of a planful economy. On the other hand, this type of production relations was a frightful hindrance to all personal initiative. Technical progress had no possibilities of growth. The machine was considered a menace. Trade monopoly was also a heavy burden, likewise the immense unproductive national expenditures. This system as a whole therefore constituted a burden which had to be eliminated under the slogan of "liberty" (particularly the economic liberty to buy, sell and exploit). Of course, before this system of production relations finally perished, new production relations, expressive of the growth of the productive forces, had undermined this growth, but they could not expand fast enough, they could not maintain themselves as the dominant system of such relations. This period was the period of the dying feudal society, its social expression was in "unsuccessful" uprisings, insurrections, etc.; such were, for instance, the peasant wars and rebellions. In England, we have Wat Tyler's Rebellion, chiefly a protest by the English peasantry against the feudal order in the social and economic sense" (D. Petrushevsky: Wat Tyler's Rebellion, Moscow 1914, in Russian, Introduction). Professor Petrushevsky neatly characterizes this period in the following generalization: the disintegration of English feudalism in its final form, achieved in the Thirteenth Century, proceeded side by side with the disintegration of the economic bases from which it grew. This disintegration resulted from the economic evolution of English society, its gradual transition from a closed system of economy in kind to a money economy, a political-economy organization" (ibid., p.19).

Turning now to the proletarian revolution, i.e., the transition from the capitalist form of society to socialism (ultimately evolving into communism), we shall again find that the principal cause for this transition is the conflict between the evolution of the productive forces and the capitalist production relations: "The monopoly of capital (i.e., the privileged position of the capitalist class with regard to the means of production. N. B.) becomes a fetter upon the means of production which has sprung up and flourished along with, and under it. Centralization of the means of production and socialization of labor at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument bursts asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated." (Karl Marx: Capital vol. i, p.837). Marx's remarks mean this: the growth of the productive forces is above all an immense increase and centralization of technical tools, machines, apparatus, instruments of production in general. This growth involves also a corresponding regrouping of men. In part, this occurs in the sense that the centralization of instruments of production leads to a centralization of the labor forces, or, as Marx puts it, to a socialization of labor. But this is not sufficient to bring about an internal equilibrium of society. The evolution of the productive forces requires planful relations, i.e. consciously regulated production relations. But herein lies the chief obstacle in the capitalist structure: legally speaking, in the private! property of capitalists, or in a collective capitalist property, held by national capitalist groups. If the productive forces are to develop,., the capitalist integument must be broken through, namely, the property relations of capitalism, those basic production relations that are legally expressed in capitalist property and politically perpetuated in the state organization of capital. This fundamental contradiction map express itself in various ways. Thus, the World War was an expression of this contradiction. The productive forces of world economy "demand" a world regulation; the "national-capitalist integument" is too tight; this leads to war; war leads to a disturbance of the social equilibrium, etc. The trustified form of capitalism, the artificial restriction of production in order to boost profits, the monopoly of inventions (legally expressed in the patent laws), the restriction of the domestic market (low wages, etc.), immense unproductive expenditures, the obstacles placed by private property in the way of technical progress (for example, the objections of the real estate owner to having cables laid on his land, thus preventing a general system of electrification), etc.- all these are various expressions and functions of a single quantity: the fundamental contradiction between the growth of the productive forces and the integument of capitalist production relations.

The revolutionary upheaval accompanying the transition from one form of class society to another is a clash between the production forces and the property relations in a given society is not a sudden growth, but becomes perceptible long before the revolution evolves, during a long period, terminating in a destruction of those production relations that act as a hindrance to the further evolution of the productive forces. This "boiling point" is reached when the new production relations have already matured, concealed in the entrails of the old production relations (Marx: A Contribution to a Critique of Political Economy, New York, 1904, p.12 ).

Let us take a present-day example of this "hatching" of new relations in the womb of the old production relations. The capitalist structure includes the totality of production relations in capitalist society, the fundamental feature of which is the totality of relations between workers and capitalists, relations that may be expressed-as we have seen-by means of things (capital). The capitalist structure of society is therefore determined chiefly by the combination of the relations between the individual capitalists, and those between the individual workers. The capitalist structure of society is by no means fully expressed in the relations within the capitalist class nor is its "essence" to be found in the relations between the workers. This essence consists in the combination of both forms of the production relations of capitalism, the bond connecting and binding two basic classes, each of which constitutes in itself an aggregate of production relations, as stated above. The following is the picture of the manner in which a new mode of production matures within a certain old mode of production.

Within the production relations of capitalism, i.e., within the class combination, a portion of these production relations constitutes the basis for the new "socialist" order of society. We have already seen what Marx considers as the basis of the socialist order; namely, first, the centralized means of production (productive forces), second (particularly in production relations), "socialized labor", i.e., principally the relations within the working class, the totality of the production relations within the proletariat (production bond between all workers). It is upon this production relation of cooperation, maturing in the womb of capitalist production relations in general, that the temple of the future will rest.

We must also obtain clarity on another point; we have seen that the cause of revolution is the conflict between the productive forces and the basic production relations (property relations). Now this fundamental contradiction is expressed in a contradiction production, particularly in a contradiction between the one phase of capitalist production relations and the other phase. It is c1ear that the social centralized labor which is embodied in the proletariat becomes more and more irreconcilable with the economic (and therefore with the political) domination of the capitalists. This "socialized labor" demands a planful economy, and will not tolerate anarchy between classes; it is an expression of the organized nature of society, which cannot be fully realized in capitalist society, particularly not in the social field. For, class society is a contradictory, i.e., unorganized society. Manifestly, the capitalists' will not and cannot relinquish their class rule. It is consequently, necessary to eliminate the rule of the capitalists, in order to achieve' the possibility of organization all along the line. We therefore encounter a conflict between the production relations embodied is the proletariat and those embodied in the bourgeoisie.

We are now prepared to understand the following. make history, the conflict between the productive forces and the production relations will not find its expression in an attack made:, by dead machines, things, on men, which would be a monstrous and ridiculous assumption. Obviously, the evolution of the productive forces places men in a position of outright opposed situations, and the conflict between the productive forces and the production relations will find its expression in a conflict between men, between classes. For, the relations of cooperation between workers find expression in the living man, in the proletariat, with its interests, aspirations, its social energy and power. The restrictive, dominant basis of the production relation of capitalism also finds u its expression in living men, in the capitalist class. The entire conflict assumes the form of a sharp struggle between classes; the revolutionary struggle between classes; the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat against the capitalist class.

The opportunistic troubadours of the Social-Democracy, such as H. Cunow, love to emphasize the "unreadiness" of present conditions, for which they again seek support in Marx, who said that no form of production is succeeded by another form until it has created a field for the further growth of the productive forces. These hoary sages proceed, therefore, to finecomb the surface of the earth in their search for villages - let us say in Central Africa - which are still unprovided with savings banks, and which still contain naked savages. We should like to meet such efforts with a quotation from one of our own books: "The World War, the beginning of the revolutionary era etc, is precisely an evidence of the objective `maturity here spoken of. For here we have a conflict of the greatest intensity, as a consequence of an antagonism that had developed to enormous proportions and was constantly being reproduced, having grown up in the womb of the capitalist system. Its destructive force is a fairly precise indicator of the level attained by capitalist evolution, a tragic expression of the complete incompatibility of the further growth of the productive forces with the envelope of the capitalist production relations. We are here dealing with the collapse so frequently predicted by the creator of scientific communism" (N. Bukharin : Okonomik der Transf ormationsperiode, Hamburg 1922, p.67).

c.The Revolution and its Phases

We have seen that the starting point of revolution is the conflict between the productive forces and the production relations, which places the class that serves as the bearer of the new mode of production in a peculiar position, "determining" its consciousness and its will in a specific direction. The necessary condition for revolution is therefore a revolutionizing of the consciousness of the new class, an ideological revolution in the class that is to serve as the grave-digger of the old society.

It is worth while to dwell on this point, above all, to recognize that this revolution has a material basis. Furthermore, it is necessary to make clear why we are dealing with a violent alteration in the consciousness of a new class, namely, with a revolutionary process.

Each order of society is based, as we have again and again stated, not only on an economic basis, for all the ideologies prevalent under a given order of things serve as rivets to hold together the existing order.

These ideologies are not playthings, but in many ways serve as girders to maintain the equilibrium of the entire social body. It is obvious that if the psychology and the ideology of the oppressed classes were absolutely hostile to the existing order, the latter could not maintain itself. Any form of society will convince us that its existence is rendered possible on the whole by the psychology and ideology of class harmony, which is particularly well illustrated by the example of capitalism at the beginning of the World War of 1914-1918. While the working class had evolved an ideology that was independent of that of the bourgeoisie, the working class nevertheless was strongly imbued with a faith in the permanence of the capitalist world order, with an attachment to the capitalist state; the mentality of class harmony had great power. No true uprising of one class against the other was possible before the consummation of the entire psychological and ideological revolution. Such a mental revolution takes place when the objective evolution places the oppressed class in an "intolerable situation": causing it to feel clearly that no improvement can be obtained under the existing order. A class attains this realization when the conflict between the growth of the productive forces and the production relations has produced a collapse of the social equilibrium, and made it impossible to restore it on the old basis. If we trace the course of the proletarian revolution, we shall find that the working class had already developed a psychology and an ideology that were more or less hostile to the existing order, during the capitalist evolution of humanity. Marxism expressed this ideology in the clearest and most profound manner. But precisely for the reason that capitalism still could and did continue to develop, even paying higher wages to labor by plundering and mercilessly exploiting the colonies, the capitalists had by no means become "intolerable" in the actual consciousness of the masses of workers. In fact, in the working classes of Europe and America, a sort of "common interest" with the capitalist national state was felt Simultaneously, the Marxian Marxism, originating in the Revolution of 1848, had been replaced in the labor parties by a specific "Second International Marxism", which distorted the Marxian theory both with regard to the social revolution, as well as with regard to the doctrine of impoverishment, of collapse, of proletarian dictatorship, etc. This condition resulted in the betrayal by the Social-Democratic parties in 1914, and in the patriotic tendencies in the working class. Only the war, an expression of the contradiction in capitalist development, and its consequences, began to make clear that "things could not go on thus". The psychology and ideology of class harmony were gradually replaced by the psychology and ideology of civil war, and, in the purely ideological field, "Second International Marxism" began to be replaced by true Marxism, i.e., by what may be properly designated as scientific communism.

Therefore: this mental revolution consists in a collapse of the old psychology and ideology (they are burst asunder by the new turbulent facts of life) and the creation of a new truly revolutionary psychology and ideology.

The Social-Democrats will never understand this; in fact, they would prefer to believe that no proletarian revolution may grow from the soil of misery and starvation, wherefore no revolution growing from this soil can be a "genuine" revolution. Marx's conception of this matter, as stated in an editorial in the New York Tribune of February 2, 1854, affords an interesting contrast to this view: "Yet, we must not forget that a sixth power exists in Europe, maintaining at certain moments its domination over all five so called `great powers', and causing them all to tremble. This power is revolution. After having long dwelt in quiet retirement, it is now again summoned to the field of battle by crises and starvation". There is needed only a signal, and the sixth and greatest European power will step forth in shining armor, sword in hand, like Minerva from the brow of the Olympian. The impending European war will give the signal" (quoted by Cunow, vol. i, p.322). Marx therefore did not engage in idiotic statements as to the impossibility of a proletarian revolution after the war, that revolution could not be built up on starvation, etc. Marx may have been mistaken as to the tempo of evolution, but he brilliantly predicted the main landmarks of the course of events: crises, starvation, war, etc.

The second phase of revolution is political revolution, i.e., the seizing of power by the new class. The revolutionary psychology of the new class becomes action. The oppressed class, encountering the concentrated power of the dominant class, namely, its state apparatus, disorganizes, in the process of struggle, the opponent's state organization, in order to break down the resistance it offers. This state organization is to a certain extent destroyed and then rebuilt, partly from elements of the old system, partly from new elements. We must here point out that the seizure of power by the new class is not and cannot be merely a transfer of the same state organization from one hand to another. Even socialist circles have been subject to this naive error. Marx and Engels specifically speak of the destruction of an old power and the creation of a new power, and naturally so, for the state organization is the highest expression of the power of the ruling class, its congelation, its concentrated authority, its principal fighting mechanism, its principal weapon of self-defense against the oppressed class. How could the oppressed class break the resistance of its oppressors without laying hands on the principal weapon of oppression? How can an economy be defeated without disorganizing its powers? Either the powers of the commanding class are on the whole uninjured, in which case the revolution may be regarded as lost; or they revolution is victorious, which usually amounts to the disorganization, the destruction of the forces (chiefly, the state organization) of the commanding class. But as the material power of the state authority finds its most important expression in the armed forces, i.e., in the army, it is evident that whatever destruction has taken place has chiefly affected the whole army. The English Revolution in the Seventeenth Century showed this by destroying the state power of the feudal kings, their army, etc., and creating the revolutionary army of the Puritans, as well as Cromwell's dictatorship. The French Revolution also showed it, by disintegrating the royal army and creating another army on a new basis. The Russian Revolution beginning in 1917 has illustrated the same point in its destruction of the state mechanism of the feudal landowners and the bourgeoisie, its disorganization and destruction of the imperialist army, and its creation of a new state of an entirely new type, and a new revolutionary army.

Both Marx and Engels were well aware of this theoretically; we shall not take pains to prove this statement, as the reader will find the necessary material in Lenin's State and Revolution, the orthodox Marxian treatment of which is now recognized even by bourgeois scholars (such as Struve and particularly P. I. Novgorodtsev: On the Social Ideal Berlin 1921, in Russian). When forced into a corner, the Social-Democratic theoreticians now find themselves obliged to attack Marx openly, and to oppose the revolutionary, "destructive" phase of his doctrine. This grateful function has devolved upon Heinrich Cunow, (ibid, vol. i, p.310: "Marx kontra Marx"), who repeats Sombart's stupid fiction to the effect that the scholar Marx had inflicted great damage upon Marx the revolutionary. Cunow distinguishes two "divergent forms" of the theory of the founder of scientific communism; first, according to Cunow, the state is regarded by Marx, sociologically, as a thing arising from the conditions of economic evolution, an organization fulfilling social functions; second, Marx also conceives the state from a purely political point of view, as a class instrument of oppression, responsible for all evil. The first point of view is that of a scholar; the second, that of an "optimistic revolutionary" (!). It is in the latter view, according to Cunow, that we must seek an explanation for Marx's hatred of the state and his effort to overthrow the state machinery of the bourgeoisie.

It is easy to point out the error in Cunow's view. He is wrong in contrasting the "social functions" of the state machine with its class-oppressing character. "Politics is the concentrated expression of economy." Capitalist production is inconceivable without the capitalist state. The capitalist production, of course, fulfills very important functions. But the fact of the matter is that during a revolution, the "important social functions" discard one historical garment and put on another, which takes place by a shift in classes, by a break-up of the old relations. Cunow's sophistries are a repetition of Renner's sophistries. During the war, Renner supported the Fatherland of the Hapsburgs and of capitalist profit by the following reasoning: uninstructed persons imagine capital to be a thing; Marx has shown that it is a social relation; this relation necessarily possesses two phases: capitalists and workers; consequently - this is Renner's inference - when you speak of the capitalist; you necessarily imply the existence of the capitalist; consequently in defending the worker, you must also defend the capitalist, for neither can exist without the other; such are the "interests" of the whole. All such considerations of course assume in advance that the wage worker wishes to remain a wage worker forever. In actual fact, however, revolution is not concerned with the "right" to be a wage worker, but with the "right" to cease to be a wage worker.

The political phase of revolution therefore does not involve a mere seizure of the intact old machinery by a new class, but more or less (depending on which class follows upon the old society) a destruction of this machinery, followed by the erection of a new organization, i.e., a new combination of things and persons, a new coordination of the corresponding ideas.

The third stage of revolution is the economic revolution. The new class, now in power, makes use of its power as a lever for economic upheaval, breaks up the production relations of the old type and begins to erect new relations which have been maturing in the womb of the old order, and in contradiction with that order. Marx defines this period of revolution as follows, in his discussion of the proletarian revolution: "The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organized as the ruling class; and to increase the total of productive forces as rapidly as possible. Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionizing the mode of production." 4)

We are now obliged to consider an important and fundamental question: in the typical case, how does this transformation, this reorganization of production relations, actually proceed, and how should it proceed?

The old Social-Democratic view on this point was quite simple. The new class - in the proletarian revolution, the proletariat - removes the commanding "heads", whom it dismisses more or less gently, and then assumes control of the social apparatus of production, which has been developed to a splendid and uninjured maturity in the bowels of the capitalist Abraham. The proletariat installs its own "heads", and the thing is done. Production goes; on without interruption, the process of production suffers no set back, the entire society sails on harmoniously on its course toward a full-blown socialist order. But a closer inspection of the revolution in the production relations will show us that these production relations, as viewed from the point of view of the labor process, are nothing more nor less than the total human labor mechanism, a system of interconnected persons, who, as we know, are related by a specific type of bond. Furthermore - an extremely important point - the labor functions of the various groups of persons in class society are connected with each other, bound up with their class function. Therefore a shifting of the class relations more or less destroys the old labor apparatus, causing the construction of a new one, precisely as in the political phase of the revolution. It is certain that a temporary decrease in the productive forces will result; every change in society must be paid for by discomfort. It is also evident that the degree to which the old apparatus is destroyed, the depth of the wound, depends above all on the extent of the shift in the class relations. In bourgeois revolutions the power of command in production passes from one group of owners to another; the principle of property remains valid; the proletariat retains its former place. Consequently, the destruction and disintegration of old institutions is far smaller than in cases in which the lowest layer of the pyramid, the proletariat, takes its place at the top. In such a case, an immense upheaval is inevitable. The old order: bourgeoisie, upper class intellectuals, middle class intellectuals, proletariat, is destroyed. The proletariat stands in splendid isolation; everyone's hand is raised against it. There results an inevitable temporary disorganization of production, which continues until the proletariat succeeds in rearranging the order of persons, uniting them with a new bond, i.e., until a new structural equilibrium of society has become effective.

This principle was enunciated by the present writer in his Ökonomik der Transformationsperiode (particularly chapter iii) to which those interested are referred. A few supplementary remarks may not be out of place. First, may this view be considered orthodox? We believe Marx interpreted the matter thus; at least, it is suggestive that Marx here uses precisely the same expression as that used in his discussion of the destruction of the state. He says that the envelope (integument) of capitalist production relations is "burst asunder" (Capital, Vol. 1, p.837); In other passages he speaks of a dissolving a "rebuilding". Obviously, a ` bursting asunder" of production relations must interrupt the "regularity of the production process", though a different condition might be more pleasant. Very probably this is the thought that peers through-though in rudimentary form-where Mark speaks of the economic "untenability", of a "despotic inroad" by the proletariat, which nevertheless, so to say, is profitable in the long run. Second, we have heard a number of objections with regard to the New Economic Policy in Russia. The objectors point out that in the Ökonomik der Transfornaationsperiode we are too one-sided in our defense of the Russian Communist Party in its blind attack on everything; for the facts of life now show that the mechanism should not have been destroyed; now, it would appear, we have become as mild and gentle as the Scheidemanns. In other words, the destruction of the capitalist production apparatus is represented as a fact in the Russian reality, but not as a general law of revolutionary transition from one form of society (capitalist) to the other (socialist). This "objection" is apparently based on a very careless conception of the matter. The Russian workers could not readmit the capitalists, etc., before they had given them a resounding thrashing and gained a firm foothold themselves, i.e., until the conditions of the new social equilibrium had been established in their main outlines, but our critics would prefer to start from the other end. Even in our official mechanism (for instance, in the army) we are now admitting great numbers of the old officers in Russia, and giving them commanding posts. Could we have afforded to do this at the beginning of the revolution? Dared we refrain from destroying the old Czarist army? The army would then not have been ruled by workers, but would have ruled the workers, which has of course been sufficiently proved by the experiences with Ministers Scheidemann and Noske in Germany, Otto Bauer and Renner in Austria, and Vandervelde in Belgium. Third, nine-tenths of the New Economic Policy of Russia is due to the peasant character of the country, i.e., to specific Russian conditions. Fourth, we are of course speaking of the typical course of events. Under special conditions, we may have a state of affairs that will not involve destruction. For example, after the proletariat has been victorious in the most important nations, the bourgeoisie may perhaps surrender with all its mechanism.

The above point o£ view by no means maintains that all of society disintegrates into individual persons. On the contrary, it maintains that the various hierarchical strata of persons are segregated from each other; the proletariat cuts loose from the other strata (technical mental workers, bourgeoisie, etc.), but within itself, as an aggregate of persons, it closes its ranks more tightly, at least for the most part. This forms the basis for the new production relations (we have already seen that "socialized labor", chiefly represented by the proletariat, is the very element that has "become mature" within the framework of the old economic order).

The fourth (last) phase of revolution is the technical revolution. A new social equilibrium having been attained, i.e., a new and durable envelope of production relations having been created, capable of serving as an evolutionary form of the productive forces, an accelerated evolution of these forces now sets on; the barriers are down, the wounds inflicted by the social crisis are healed, an unparalleled boom begins. New tools are introduced, a new technical foundation is created, a revolution in technique takes place.. Now a "normal", "organic" period in the evolution of the new social form sets in, creating its corresponding psychology and ideology.

We shall now recapitulate. The starting point for revolutionary development was a disturbance of the equilibrium between the productive forces and the production relations, as evidenced in a disturbance of the equilibrium between the various portions of the production relations. This disturbance of the equilibrium between classes is expressed chiefly in the destruction of the psychology of class harmony. Furthermore, there is a sudden disturbance of political equilibrium, which is restored on a new basis, then a sudden disturbance of the economic structural equilibrium, also restored on a new basis, followed by the erection of a new technical foundation. Society begins its life on a new basis; all the functions of its life assume a new historical raiment.

d.Cause and Effect in the Transition Period; Cause and Effect in Periods of Decline

Our discussion of the process of revolution, which is equivalent to a process of transition from one social form to another, led us to the conclusion that this process, after its initial clash between the productive forces and the production relations, passes through a number of phases, beginning with ideology, ending in technique, a sort of reverse order, as it were. In this connection, it will be useful to examine a concrete example afforded by the proletarian revolution. Heinrich Cunow, self-appointed critic of Marx, finds a contradiction between two passages in Marx (one taken from the Poverty of Philosophy, the other from the Communist Manifesto). In the first passage we read: "The working class, in the course of evolution, will put in the place of bourgeois society an association which will exclude classes and their opposite, and there will no longer be any political authority as such, because the political authority is the expression of class hostility within bourgeois society." The other passage (Comvnunist Manifesto) defines the course of events as follows: "If the proletariat in its struggle with the bourgeoisie is forced to unite itself as a class, to make itself to eliminate the old production relations by force, in destroying these production relations it also destroys the basic conditions for the existence of class contradictions; it thus abolishes classes altogether, as well as its own class rule."5)

Cunow makes the following reply: "This (the passage in the Communist Manifesto. N. B.) is, sociologically speaking, almost the direct opposite of the above sentence from Marx's Poverty of Philosophy. In the latter work, we have, first, the abolition of class stratification, in the course of social evolution, which is followed by its political (!) conquest, since the basis of the old state authority is thus destroyed. But in the Communist Manifesto, we have, first, the conquest of the state power, followed by the application of this power to an overthrow of the capitalist production relations, upon the disappearance of which the class contradictions and finally classes as such are abolished in the sequel." 6) Cunow therefore maintains that in the Poverty of Philosophy, Marx shows himself to be a learned evolutionist, while the Communist Manifesto reveals him as a crazy revolutionist. Mr. Cunow is here consciously distorting the facts, for he knows that the Poverty of Philosophy calls for a "bloody battle" ("bloody battle or non-existence; thus - only thus - does history put the question"). In the first passage, Marx is speaking of the period after the conquest of power, of the dying out of the power of the proletariat; he is not discussing any "political conquest", but he considers the political authority from the outset as a vanishing quantity. The same is the case in the Communist Manifesto. There is no doubt, therefore, that Marx considered the conquest of political power (i.e., the destruction of the old state machinery and the characteristic new machinery) as a condition for the transformation of the production relations, brought about by a forceful "expropriation of the expropriators". We are therefore dealing with things in the reverse order. The analysis is not proceeding from economy to politics, but from politics to economy. In fact, since production relations are being altered by the lever of political authority, it follows that economy is determined by policy. Cunow is absolutely wrong when he says that we are here dealing with a sociology that precisely contradicts Marx's sociology. The proper word for this procedure is forgery.

It is important not to lose sight of the point of departure of the entire process, which is the conflict between the evolution of the productive forces and the property relations. The entire social's transformation is based on this beginning, and does not cease its harsh course until a new structural equilibrium has ensued in society. In other words: a revolution begins when the property relations have become a hindrance to the evolution of the productive forces; revolution has done its work, as soon as new production relations have been established, to serve as forms favoring the evolution of the productive forces. Between this beginning and this ending lies the reverse order in the influence of the super structures.

In the previous chapters we have seen that the superstructure is not merely a "passive" portion of the social process: it is a specific force, against which it would be absurd to argue, as even Mr. Cunow will admit. But just at this point we have an extended analysis, in time, of a reversed process of influence, which analysis results from the catastrophic character of the entire process, from the disturbance of all the customary functions. In so called "normal times", any contradictions arising between the productive forces and economy, etc., are quickly obliterated, are quickly absorbed by the superstructure, which passes it on to the economy and the productive forces, the cycle then beginning all over again, etc., etc. In this case, however, the mutual adaptation of the various sections of the social mechanism proceed with dreadful slowness, with torments, with immense sacrifice; and the contradictions themselves are here contradictions of immense proportions. It is not surprising, therefore, that the process of a reversed influence of the superstructure (political ideology, conquest of power, application of this power in reshaping the production relations) is of long duration, filling an entire historical period. But precisely this is the peculiarity of the transition period, which Mr. Cunow absolutely fails to understand.

The following also must be understood. Every superstructural force, including also the concentrated authority of a class, its state authority, is a power; but this power is not unlimited. No force can transcend its own limits. The limits imposed upon the political power of a new class that has seized the power are inherent in the existing state of economic conditions and therefore of the productive forces. In other words: the alteration in the economic conditions that may be attained with the aid of the political lever itself dependent on the previous state of the economic conditions. This may be best seen from the Russian proletarian revolution. In November, 1917, the working class seized power, but it could not think of centralizing and socializing the petty bourgeois economy, particularly the peasant economy. In 1921 it transpired that the Russian economy was even stronger than had been supposed, and that the forces of the proletarian state machinery were merely sufficient to maintain a socialization of large-scale industry, and not even all of that. Let us now approach another phase of the question. Let us attempt to understand the nature of the interruption of the productive forces, introduced by the revolutionary process; also, the temporary reduction in the level of these productive forces.

Unorganized society, of which capitalist commodities society is the most striking expression, always develops by leaps and bounds. We are aware that capitalism involves wars and industrial crises. We all know that these wars and crises are an "essential phase" of the capitalist order of society. In other words, the continued existence of capitalism necessarily involves crises and capitalist wars; this is a "natural law" of capitalist evolution. What is the meaning of this law, from the point of view of the productive forces of society? First, what is it that happens during a crisis? We have a cessation of factory work, an increase of unemployment, a lower production; many enterprises, small ones particularly, disappear; in other words, there is a partial destruction of the productive forces. Parallel with this process, there is an enhancement of the organized forms of capitalism; a strengthening of the large-scale enterprises, the formation of trusts and other powerful monopoly organizations. After the crises, there is a new cycle of development, a new growth on a new basis, under higher organizational forms, affording greater opportunities for the evolution of the productive forces. The possibility of continued evolution is therefore bought at the price of a crisis and a waste of productive farces during the crisis. To a certain extent, the case in capitalist wars is the same. These wars are an expression of capitalist competition; they result in a temporary decrease in the productive forces. After wars, bourgeois states rounded out their boundaries; great powers became greater; small states were swallowed up; capital assumed world-wide proportions, obtained a greater field of exploitation, the outlines within which the productive forces could develop were extended, a temporary decline was followed by a swifter process of accumulation. It may therefore be said that the possibility of an expanded reproduction was purchased, in this case also, at the price of a temporary decline in the productive forces.

The same law may be observed from the wider point of view; from which we regard the evolution of society. The significance, of revolution is in its elimination of an obstacle to the development of the productive forces. Strange as it may seem, in destroying this hindrance, revolution temporarily destroys a portion of its productive forces. This is as inevitable as the crises under capitalism.

The destructive effects of revolution ("debit side of revolution") may be considered under the following heads:

1. Physical destruction of the elements of production. Destruction of things and persons, in any form, during the civil war process, may be included here. If barricades are constructed of railroad cars, and men are killed (civil war and class war involve such sacrifices), this is equivalent to a destruction of productive forces. The annihilation of machines, factories, railroads, cattle, etc.; the injury and ruin of instruments of production by sabotage, failure to repair or replace -absent parts, etc., absence of workers due to war, departure of mental workers, etc.; these are phases of the physical destruction of the productive forces.

2. Deterioration of the elements of production. Here belongs: deterioration of machinery for lack o£ repair and replacement; physical exhaustion of workers, intellectuals, etc, resorting to inferior substitutes (poorer metal, replacement of male labor by female and child labor; petty bourgeois elements in the factories, etc.).

3. Interruption of liaison between the elements of production. This is the main cause of the specifically revolutionary disintegration; it includes the disorganization of the production relations spoken of in our large-type text. (Destruction of liaison between the proletariat, on the one hand, and the technical mental workers and bourgeoisie on the other hand; disintegration of capitalist organizations; decay of liaison between city and country, etc., etc.). This does not mean a physical destruction of productive forces (things and persons), but their elimination from the process of production; factories not working, men idle. Also, there is the waste due to the initial "inability" of the new class, its incapacity to build up its organizations, its "mistakes", etc.

4. Shifting the production forces for unproductive consumption, including the readjustment of a great portion of the productive forces for military purposes; manufacture of cannons, rifles military supplies, other war materials. cf. Oekonomik der Transformationsperiode, chap, vi).

This enumeration is based on the proletarian revolution; obviously, any revolution will present the same classification, but the total "expense" of revolution will in general be lower in bourgeois revolutions.

History fully supports these theoretical principles. The peasant wars in Germany were followed by immense disorganization; French Revolution, with its financial crises, its monstrous price inflation, famine, etc., shows the same course. The Civil War in the United States put the country back at least ten years. Later, the social transformation having been accomplished, a boom period will ensue, advances proceeding much more rapidly than any advances in the pre-revolutionary period, since society has now found a more appropriate envelope for its productive forces.

Therefore: the transition from one form of society to another is accompanied by a temporary lowering of the productive forces, which cannot in any other way find an opportunity for further evolution.

The law of decline is distinguished from the law of the transition period by the fact that the transition in the former case does not lead to a higher economic form; in this case, the decline in the productive forces will continue until society receives some impulse from without, or until its equilibrium has been found on a lower basis, whereupon we have a "repetition", or a permanent state of stagnation, not a higher form of economic relations.

An analysis of the causes of a decline will in general show that they are due to the impossibility of breaking down the given property relations; they therefore remain fetters on evolution, and react on the productive forces, so that the latter continue "going down" all the time. This may be the case, for example, when the

opposing classes in a revolution are of about the same strength, making a victory impossible for either class; the society is doomed.

The conflict between the productive forces and the production relations has determined the will of the classes in a specific manner. But revolution has not advanced beyond its earliest phases. The classes give battle; neither is victorious; production falls asleep; society dies out. Or, we may have the case in which the victorious class is incapable of disposing of the tasks imposed upon it, or, the revolution may not mature to the "boiling point"; but the evolution of the productive forces has been proceeding in an environment in which it has determined a quite specific class alignment, namely, a completely parasitic ruling class, and a completely demoralized oppressed class. Here there will be no evolution; sooner or later a simple, one might say a "bloodless", disintegration and dissolution will take place. Or, we may have a case of mixed type. All these cases show that the evolution of the productive forces has led to an economy and to such forms of "superstructure" as have a reverse influence of such nature on the evolution of the productive forces as to oblige them to go down. Of course, when the productive forces go down, the level of the entire social life will also go down.

Greece and Rome may be taken as examples of social decay, later Spain and Portugal. The ruling classes, maintained by the slaves conquered in countless wars, became parasites, also a portion of the free burghers. Their technology permitted them to wage wars, thus conditioning a corresponding economy, which produced a specific state order; but the material condition of the classes also determined their: being, their social psychology (a mentality of parasitic degeneration;, among the rulers; of degeneration by stupefaction and oppression among the oppressed). Such a superstructure was too heavy for its basis, the productive forces, which ceased to grow, ultimately becoming a negative quantity. In place of this perfectly simple explanation, most scholars present an unspeakable confusion, of which an excellent, specimen is afforded by the latest book of P. Bitsilli: The Fall of the Roman Empire. Vassilyev, a professor at the University of Kazan,.who enumerates - in a work already quoted by us - all the theories explaining the fall of the ancient world, particularly emphasizes the theory of biological degeneration. This degeneration, in the case of ,x: the rulers, according to Professor Vassilyev, is a necessary consequence and the natural end of any civilization (with certain reservations): for, brawn is replaced by brain, the nervous system develops its wants, a biological deterioration results. Mr. Vassilyev therefore believes that the materialist Marxian conception of history should be replaced by the materialist Vassilyev conception, which is much "profounder". Mr. Vassilyev points out that the progress of the social sciences has taken the following path: first, there was an analysis of ideology; then, of policy; then, of the social order; then, of economy (Marx). We are told that we must now penetrate still more profoundly, descending to the material nature of man, his physiological constitution, the changes in which constitute the "essence" of the historical process. There is no doubt that the material nature of man changes; but, if we proceed beyond the limits of social laws, we must advance from biology to physics and chemistry, and then we shall become fully aware of Mr. Vassilyev's error. The fact of the matter is that the law of cause and effect in social science must be a social law. If we wish to explain the social properties of man's material nature, we must determine what are the social causes whose influence has altered the physiology (and also the psychology) of man. We shall then find that this phase is determined above all by the conditions of material being, i.e., by the situation of the given groups in production. Mr. Vassilyev is therefore not digging deeper, but walking backwards; his theory is actually the time-honored theory of the inevitable aging of the human race. Besides being useless because it is based on a mere analogy with physical organisms, it is not capable of explaining the simplest phenomena. Why, for instance, has the infinitely more complicated European civilization not passed away, whereas Rome degenerated? Why did Spain "fall" and not England? Commonplaces about degeneration will explain nothing, for the simple reason that this degeneration is a product of social conditions. Only an analysis of these conditions can result in a proper view of the subject.

An analysis of the causality of the transition period and the periods of decay will also throw light on the question of what determines the evolution of the productive forces, and what is the influence under which they are changing. Obviously, they are changing under the reversed influence of the basis, and of all the superstructural forms. Marx himself recognizes this. Thus, he informs us in Capital (Chicago, 1909, Vol. iii, p.98): "Such a development of the productive power is traceable in the last instance to the social nature of the labor engaged in production; to the division of labor in society; to the development of intellectual labor, especially of the natural sciences." Strictly speaking, the matter does not end here : Marx emphasizes only the most important factors influencing the productive forces in industry. "But," our opponents may object, "why do you begin at just this point?" Our answer is: "For the simple reason that, no matter what interactions may be taking place within society, the internal social relations at any given moment will-insofar as we are considering society in its condition of equilibrium-correspond with the relation existing between society and nature."

e.The Evolution of the Productive Forces and the Materialization of Social Phenomena (Accumulation of Civilization)

A consideration of the process of production and reproduction, where the productive forces are growing, will present us with a general law; namely, as the productive forces grow, more and more labor is applied in the production of instruments of production. With the aid of these constantly increasing instruments of production, which are a part of the social technique, a much smaller part of the work than formerly will produce a much greater quantity of useful products of all kinds. When manual labor was used, comparatively little time was devoted to the manufacture of instruments of production. Men worked in the sweat of their brows with their insignificant, wretched tools, and their work was not very productive. But in a highly evolved society a great portion of their labor is devoted to the production of immense labor tools - machines, mechanisms - in order to produce further immense instruments of production, such as huge factories, electrical power stations, mines, etc., which consume a large part of the human forces available. But the use of these tremendous instruments of production vastly increases the productivity of living labor; the investment yields more than compound interest.

In capitalist society, this law is expressed in the relative increase of constant capital as compared with variable capital. That portion of capital that has been devoted to the construction of factory plants, machines, etc., grows more rapidly than the portion put into wages. In other words, in the evolution of the productive forces in capitalist society, the constant capital grows more rapidly than the variable capital. We may state this in another manner, as the productive forces of society grow, they are being constantly realigned, with the result that an increasingly greater share of these forces goes into the branches producing instruments of production.

The growth of the productive forces, the accumulation of man's power over nature, is expressed in the higher and higher "specific" weight assigned to things, to dead labor, to the social technique.

It is reasonable to inquire whether similar phenomena are presented by other fields of social life, for we have seen that the superstructural labor is also labor, differentiated labor, which has been segregated from material labor. And we have seen that the outline of the superstructure includes both material elements and personal elements, as well as ideological elements proper. Where is there here an accumulation, an aggregation of "mental" culture? Do we here encounter anything resembling the material process of production?

Let us anticipate: Yes, there is such a similarity, expressed in the fact that the social ideology is crystallized or congealed in things which are quite material. Let us remember that we are enabled to reproduce the ancient "mental cultures" out of the so called "monuments" of earlier epochs; the remnants of old libraries, the books, inscriptions, clay tablets, statues, paintings, temples, old musical instruments, and thousands of other things. In a way, we may regard these things as a congealed, materialized ideology of ages long gone by, enabling us to judge the psychology and ideology; of their contemporaries with precision, as the remnants of working tools enable us to judge of the stage reached in the evolution of the productive forces, and even of the economy of these epochs. Furthermore, in the superstructural work, in ideological labor, instruments of consumption frequently serve also as instruments for further production. A picture gallery contains instruments of enjoyment; for the public which goes to view them, it consists of consumption products. But they are also instruments of production, not in the same sense - of course - as brushes and canvas, for the coming generations learn art, a new "tendency" in painting, from them. A new school of does not descend from heaven, but grows out of an earlier stage, even though it may renounce and denounce the old ideological system. Nothing is made of nothing. As, in the political field, the old state is destroyed during a revolution, while the new state will contain many old elements in a new arrangement, so, in the ideological field, even the greatest interruptions do not wipe out a certain succession and connection with the past: the new building is not constructed on the "bare ground". Paintings, for the painter, are an instrument of production, an accumulated artistic experience, a congealed ideology, from which any further movement in this field must take its start.

Perhaps the following objection might be made: "All this may be very fine, but what has the sublime doctrine of Christianity in common with the material symbols that have been traced on parchment or paper, or with the pigskin in which the Gospels are bound? What is the connection between the scientific ideology as such and the masses of paper that have been piled up in the libraries? Surely there is a difference between the ideologies, the most delicate product of the collective human mind, and such gross material things as books, considered as things!" But this argument may be due to a misunderstanding. To be sure, paper per se, or coloring matter, or pigskin, would in these cases have no meaning for us if they were without a social being. We have shown in chapter vi (b. Things, Men, Ideas) that a machine - considered outside of its social connection - is merely a piece of metal, wood, etc. But it has also a social being, in that men interpret it as a machine in the labor process. Similarly, the book, in addition to its physical being, as a piece of paper, also has a social being; it is considered as a book in the process of reading. Here, the book is a congealed ideology, an instrument of ideological production.

If we approach the question of the accumulation of mental culture from this angle, it will be easy to admit that this accumulation takes the form of an accumulation of things, of crystallized, material shapes. The "richer" a field of mental culture is, the more imposing, the broader the field of these "materialized social phenomena". Figuratively speaking (and not forgetting its character as an ideology), the material skeleton of mental culture is the "fundamental capital" of this culture, which increases with the "richness" of this culture, and is dependent "in the last analysis" on the stage reached in the material productive forces. The childish inscriptions, masks, rude images of idols, drawings on stones, art monuments, rolls of papyrus, other manuscripts, parchment books, temples and observatories, clay tablets, with their cuneiform writings; later, the galleries, museums, botanical and zoological gardens, huge libraries, independent scientific exhibitions, laboratories, sketches, printed books, etc., etc., are an accumulated crystallized experience of humanity. The new library stacks, with their new books, considered together with the olds stacks and books, are an interesting physical manifestation of collaboration of many generations in their uninterrupted succession.

We have become so accustomed to many phenomena in this field as to lose sight of the historical boundaries. Our present-day psychology and ideology, for instance, finds its crystallization in the daily newspaper. Yet, the newspaper itself is a modern phenomenon, beginning approximately in the Seventeenth Century. No doubt important official news was already posted on walls ("published") in ancient Rome and among the Chinese (Eighth Century A.D.), but this was barely a beginning (cf. K. Bücher: Das Zeitatngswesen in Kultur der Gegenwart, Berlin and Leipzig, 1906, part i, section i.). Books, in our sense, are also not found before the invention of printing, when there were only rolls of papyrus and parchment codices, then the most perfect method of preserving the accumulated "wisdom of centuries", clay tablets:(Babylon) preserved in gigantic libraries. For example, Ashurbanipal's famous library (cf. Pietschmann: Das Buch, in Kultur der Gegenwart). Libraries (called by Leibnitz "treasuries of all the riches of the human spirit") may therefore be found in very ancient times, and it is to the remnants of such libraries that we owe most of our information on many secrets of times long past (a short study on libraries is found in Die Bibliotheken, by Fritz Milkau, in Kultur der Gegenwart). Important examples are: the above mentioned library of Ashurbanipal (Seventh Century B.C.), also the libraries of the most ancient ecclesiastical schools (Third Century B.C.). Hermann Diels (Die Organisation der Wissenschaft, in Kultur der Gegenwart, p.639) rightly observes: "Among all institutions of learning, libraries have ever been the most important and most essential means of preserving, disseminating and transmitting learning and of supplementing the evanescent viva vox of living teachers." Art objects, of course, play the same rôle, as preserved in collections, galleries, museums, cathedrals, etc.

The accumulation of mental culture is therefore not only an accumulation of psychological and ideological elements in the minds of men, but also an accumulation of things.

f. The Process of Reproduction of Social Life as a Whole

We are now in a position to recapitulate this subject:

A constant "metabolism" is taking place between nature and society, a process of social reproduction, a labor process operating in cycles, constantly replacing what is consumed, extending its basis as the productive forces develop, and enabling mankind to widen the boundaries of its existence.

But the process of production of material products is simultaneously a process of production of given economic relations. Marx says: Capitalist production, therefore under its aspect of a continuous connected process, of a process of reproduction, produces not only commodities, not only surplus-value, but it also produces and reproduces the capitalist relation; on the one hand the capitalist, on the other, the wage-laborer."7) This formula of Marx is not only applicable to capitalist production, but universally applicable in general. If we consider the case of the ancient slaveholding economy, each production cycle in it will be accompanied by the slaveholders' receiving his share and the slave his; in the next cycle, the slaveholder will also discharge his role, while the slave will discharge his; if reproduction should expand, the sole alteration will be in the fact that the share and power of the slaveholder, the number of his slaves, the amount of surplus labor produced by them, will become greater. Thus, the process of material production is simultaneously a process of the reproduction of those production relations, of that historical envelope, in which they are operative. On the other hand, the process of material reproduction is a process of constant reproduction of the corresponding labor forces. "Man himself," writes Marx, "viewed as the impersonation of labor power, is a natural object, a thing, although a living conscious thing, and labor is the manifestation of this power residing in him."8) But at various historical periods, in accordance with the social technique, the mode of production, etc., specific labor forces, i.e., labor forces with the required skill, are available. The process of reproduction is constantly reproducing this skill; it therefore reproduces not only the things, but also the "living things", i.e., workers possessing certain qualifications; it also reproduces relations among them with expanding reproduction, it makes the adjustments corresponding to the new level of the productive forces, in this case assigning the persons, who may not be the same (for new types of skill, new "living machines" are required), to posts in the labor field which may not be identical. But the fundamental texture of the production relations nevertheless remains intact (except in the case of revolutionary periods) and continues to be reproduced on a progressively larger and larger scale.

If the totality of the various types of skill of the labor forces be designated as a social physiology, it may be said that the process of reproduction is constantly reproducing the economy of society and therefore also its physiology.

All types of work have thus far required a specific physiological type, a result of specialization. We may therefore distinguish - even by his external appearance - a transport worker from a metal works clerk, butcher, stool-pigeon, etc., not to mention a musician or a member of the "liberal professions" in general. Therefore, not only is the psychology of men their social psychology, but their physiological structure is a product of social evolution. As he works upon nature, man alters his own nature. What we call "social physiology" may not be considered as opposed to economy, for it is a part of economy. The difference simply is this: in discussing economy, we analyze the connections and the type of these connections between men, their: material relation with each other, what we call social physiology is not a connection, but a property of these same elements.

Simultaneously with the process of reproduction, we have a similar motion of the entire vast machine of social life: the mutual relations between classes are reproduced, also the conditions of the state organization; also the relations within the various spheres of ideological labor. In this aggregate reproduction of the entire social life, the social contradictions are also constantly reproduced. The partial contradictions, a disturbance of equilibrium emanating from the impulses imparted by the evolution of the productive forces, are being constantly absorbed by a partial realignment of society within the frame of the given mode of production. But the basic contradictions, those arising from the very nature of the given economic structure, continue to be reproduced on a larger and larger foundation, until they attain the proportions that bring about a catastrophe. Then the entire old form of production relations will collapse, and a new form arises, if the social evolution continues. "The historical development of the antagonisms, immanent in a given form of production, is the only way in which that form of production can be dissolved and a new form established."9) This moment is succeeded by a temporary interruption in the process of reproduction, a disturbance which is expressed by the destruction of a portion of the productive forces. The general transformation of the entire human labor apparatus, the reorganization of all the human relations, brings about a new equilibrium, whereupon society enters upon a new universal cycle in its evolution, by extending its technical basis and accumulating its experience (as congealed in objects), which serves as the point of departure in any new forward step.


Plekhanov: Articles attacking Struve in the collection, Criticism of Our Critics (the best work on the analysis of the production relations from the point of view of revolution). Rosa Luxemburg: Sozialreform und Revolution. Karl Kautsky: Die soziale Revolution. Karl Kautsky: Anti-Bernstein. Heinrich Cunow: Die Marxsche Geschichts-, Gesellschafts-und Staatstlaeorie, vol. i. Werner Sombart: Sozialismus and soziale Bewegung. N. Lenin: State and Revolution. N. Lenin: The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky. N. Bukharin: Oekonomik der Transformationsperiode. Hermann Beck (editor): Wege und Ziele der Sozialisierung. J. Delevsky (Social-Revolutionary): Social Antagonisms and the Class Struggle in History. Karl Marx: particularly, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy; also, Marx's historical writings.


1)N. Beltov (Plekhanov) : Concerning the Materialistic Interpretation History, in Criticism of Our Critics, p.333. The italics are mine. N. B.

2)Karl Marx: Capital, vol. iii, Chicago, 1909, p.919. My italics. N.B.

3)Karl Marx: Capital, vol. iii, Chicago, 1909, p.1030.

4)Communist Manifesto, Chicago, 1912, pp.40, 41; also quoted by Cunow, ibid., Vol. i, p.321

5)Quoted by Cunow, ibid., p.182.

6)Ibid., vol. 1, pp.321, 222.

7)Capital, Chicago, 1915, vol. i, p.633

8)Ibid., vol. i, v. 225.

9)Capital, vol. i, p.534, 535.