Can capitalism develop in Russia and reach full development when the masses of the people are poor and are becoming still poorer? The development of capitalism certainly needs an extensive home market; but the ruin of the peasantry undermines this market, threatens to close it altogether and make the organisation of the capitalist order impossible. True, it is said that, by transforming the natural economy of our direct producers into a commodity economy, capitalism is creating a market for itself; but is it conceivable that the miserable remnants of the natural economy of indigent peasants can form the basis for the development in our country of the mighty capitalist production that we see in the West? Is it not evident that the one fact of the masses being impoverished already makes our capitalism something impotent and without foundation, incapable of embracing the entire production of the country and of becoming the basis of our social economy?
Such are the questions that are constantly being advanced in our literature in opposition to the Russian Marxists; the absence of a market is one of the principal arguments invoked against the possibility of applying the theory of Marx to Russia. To refute this argument is the aim, incidentally, of the paper The Market Question, which we are about to discuss.