Manifesto of the Workers' Group of the Russian Communist Party 1923
The NEP is the direct result of the situation of the productive forces in our country.
And really, suppose that our country is covered by a thick forest of factory chimneys, the land cultivated by tractors and not by ploughs, that wheat is harvested using reapers not a sickle, threshed with a threshing machine and not a sickle, winnowed by a winnowing machine, not a shovel; all these machines driven by a tractor - in these circumstances would we need a New Economic Policy? Not at all.
And imagine now that last year in Germany, France and England there was a social revolution, and that here in Russia the club and the plough have not been retired, replaced by Queen machine, but reign supreme. Just as they reign today (especially the plough), and the lack of animals requires a man to harness himself with his children, his wife following the plough. Would we then need a New Economic Policy? Yes.
And for what? For the same thing, to support a peasant family culture with its plough and, by this, to replace the plough with the tractor, and so change the material basis of a rural petty bourgeois economy in order to expand the economic base of the social revolution.
What capitalism did to smaller producers and landowners in agriculture and industry in the advanced capitalist countries (in England, the United States, Germany), the proletarian power must do in Russia.
But how to accomplish this task? By ordering, shouting: "Hey you, petty bourgeois, disappear!"? You can make as many decrees as you like ordering a petty bourgeois element to disappear, the petty bourgeoisie still lives, like a fighting cock. And what would the pure proletarians do without it in a country like Russia? They would starve! Could we gather all the petty bourgeois elements into a collective commune? Impossible. So it will not be by decrees that we will fight the petty bourgeoisie, but by submitting it to the needs of a rational, mechanised, homogeneous economy. By the free struggle of economies based on the use of machines and new technical improvements against all other archaic modes of production that still dominate in a small artisanal economy. We cannot build communism with a plough.
But imagine that the socialist revolution took place in Germany or England. Would a New Economic Policy be possible at any time of the revolutionary process?
It depends entirely on the importance and scale of petty bourgeois production. If its role in the life of the country is insignificant, we can dispense with the New Economic Policy and, by speeding up the legislative activity of the proletarian dictatorship, introduce new work methods.
And where petty bourgeois production exerts a considerable influence on the economic life of the country, and the industry of the city and the countryside cannot do without it, the New Economic Policy will take place. The more large industries depend on small-scale production, the larger the scale of the NEP will be and its duration determined by the speed of the triumphant march of national socialist industry.
In Russia, the New Economic Policy will last for a long time - not because anyone wants it to, but because one cannot do otherwise. Until our socialist industry ceases to depend on petty bourgeois production and property, there will be no question of suspending the NEP.