This heading covers a number of problems which essentially differ from one another. I combine them in one section, not in order to lump them together, but solely for brevity of exposition.
Abolition of the antithesis between town and country, between industry and agriculture, is a well-known problem which was discussed long ago by Marx and Engels. The economic basis of this antithesis is the exploitation of the country by the town, the expropriation of the peasantry and the ruin of the majority of the rural population by the whole course of development of industry, trade and credit under capitalism. Hence, the antithesis between town and country under capitalism must be regarded as an antagonism of interests. This it was that gave rise to the hostile attitude of the country towards the town and towards "townfolk" in general.
Undoubtedly, with the abolition of capitalism and the exploiting system in our country, and with the consolidation of the socialist system, the antagonism of interests between town and country, between industry and agriculture, was also bound to disappear. And that is what happened. The immense assistance rendered by the socialist town, by our working class, to our peasantry in eliminating the landlords and kulaks strengthened the foundation for the alliance between the working class and the peasantry, while the systematic supply of first-class tractors and other machines to the peasantry and its collective farms converted the alliance between the working class and the peasantry into friendship between them. Of course, the workers and the collective-farm peasantry do represent two classes differing from one another in status. But this difference does not weaken their friendship in any way. On the contrary, their interests lie along one common line, that of strengthening the socialist system and attaining the victory of communism. It is not surprising, therefore, that not a trace remains of the former distrust, not to speak of the former hatred, of the country for the town.
All this means that the ground for the antithesis between town and country, between industry and agriculture, has already been eliminated by our present socialist system.
This, of course, does not mean that the effect of the abolition of the antithesis between town and country will be that "the great towns will perish" (1). Not only will the great towns not perish, but new great towns will appear as centres of the maximum development of culture, and as centres not only of large-scale industry, but also of the processing of agricultural produce and of powerful development of all branches of the food industry. This will facilitate the cultural progress of the nation and will tend to even up conditions of life in town and country.
We have a similar situation as regards the problem of the abolition of the antithesis between mental and physical labour. This too is a well-known problem which was discussed by Marx and Engels long ago. The economic basis of the antithesis between mental and physical labour is the exploitation of the physical workers by the mental workers. Everyone is familiar with the gulf which under capitalism divided the physical workers of enterprises from the managerial personnel. We know that this gulf gave rise to a hostile attitude on the part of the workers towards managers, foremen, engineers and other members of the technical staff, whom the workers regarded as their enemies. Naturally, with the abolition of capitalism and the exploiting system, the antagonism of interests between physical and mental labour was also bound to disappear. And it really has disappeared in our present socialist system. Today, the physical workers and the managerial personnel are not enemies, but comrades and friends, members of a single collective body of producers who are vitally interested in the progress and improvement of production. Not a trace remains of the former enmity between them.
Of quite a different character is the problem of the disappearance of distinctions between town (industry) and country (agriculture), and between physical and mental labour. This problem was not discussed in the Marxist classics. It is a new problem, one that has been raised practically by our socialist construction.
Is this problem an imaginary one? Has it any practical or theoretical importance for us? No, this problem cannot be considered an imaginary one. On the contrary, it is for us a problem of the greatest seriousness.
Take, for instance, the distinction between agriculture and industry. In our country it consists not only in the fact that the conditions of labour in agriculture differ from those in industry, but, mainly and chiefly, in the fact that whereas in industry we have public ownership of the means of production and of the product of industry, in agriculture we have not public, but group, collective-farm ownership. It has already been said that this fact leads to the preservation of commodity circulation, and that only when this distinction between industry and agriculture disappears, can commodity production with all its attendant consequences also disappear. It therefore cannot be denied that the disappearance of this essential distinction between agriculture and industry must be a matter of paramount importance for us.
The same must be said of the problem of the abolition of the essential distinction between mental labour and physical labour. It, too, is a problem of paramount importance for us. Before the socialist emulation movement assumed mass proportions, the growth of our industry proceeded very haltingly, and many comrades even suggested that the rate of industrial development should be retarded. This was due chiefly to the fact that the cultural and technical level of the workers was too low and lagged far behind that of the technical personnel. But the situation changed radically when the socialist emulation movement assumed a mass character. It was from that moment on that industry began to advance at accelerated speed. Why did socialist emulation assume the character of a mass movement? Because among the workers whole groups of comrades came to the fore who had not only mastered the minimum requirements of technical knowledge, but had gone further and risen to the level of the technical personnel; they began to correct technicians and engineers, to break down the existing norms as antiquated, to introduce new and more up-to-date norms, and so on. What should we have had if not only isolated groups, but the majority of the workers had raised their cultural and technical level to that of the engineering and technical personnel? Our industry would have risen to a height unattainable by industry in other countries. It therefore cannot be denied that the abolition of the essential distinction between mental and physical labour by raising the cultural and technical level of the workers to that of the technical personnel cannot but be of paramount importance for us.
Some comrades assert that in the course of time not only will the essential distinction between industry and agriculture, and between physical and mental labour, disappear, but so will all distinction between them. That is not true. Abolition of the essential distinction between industry and agriculture cannot lead to the abolition of all distinction between them. Some distinction, even if inessential, will certainly remain, owing to the difference between the conditions of work in industry and in agriculture. Even in industry the conditions of labour are not the same in all its branches: the conditions of labour, for example, of coal miners differ from those of the workers of a mechanized shoe factory, and the conditions of labour of ore miners from those of engineering workers. If that is so, then all the more must a certain distinction remain between industry and agriculture.
The same must be said of the distinction between mental and physical labour. The essential distinction between them, the difference in their cultural and technical levels, will certainly disappear. But some distinction, even if inessential, will remain, if only because the conditions of labour of the managerial staffs and those of the workers are not identical.
The comrades who assert the contrary do so presumably on the basis of the formulation given in some of my statements, which speaks of the abolition of the distinction between industry and agriculture, and between mental and physical labour, without any reservation to the effect that what is meant is the abolition of the essential distinction, not of all distinction. That is exactly how the comrades understood my formulation, assuming that it implied the abolition of all distinction. But this indicates that the formulation was unprecise, unsatisfactory. It must be discarded and replaced by another formulation, one that speaks of the abolition of essential distinctions and the persistence of inessential distinctions between industry and agriculture, and between mental and physical labour.
1.4. Ibid., . 412.
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