Joseph Stalin

Economic Problems of the USSR

9. International Importance of a Marxist Textbook on Political Economy

I think that the comrades do not appreciate the importance of a Marxist textbook on political economy as fully as they should. It is needed not only by our Soviet youth. It is particularly needed by Communists and communist sympathizers in all countries. Our comrades abroad want to know how we broke out of capitalist slavery; how we rebuilt the economy of our country on socialist lines; how we secured the friendship of the peasantry; how we managed to convert a country which was only so recently poverty-stricken and weak into a rich and mighty country; what are the collective farms; why, although the means of production are socialized, we do not abolish commodity production, money, trade, etc. They want to know all this, and much else, not out of mere curiosity, but in order to learn from us and to utilize our experience in their own countries. Consequently, the appearance of a good Marxist textbook on political economy is not only of political importance at home, but also of great international importance.

What is needed, therefore, is a textbook which might serve as a reference book for the revolutionary youth not only at home, but also abroad. It must not be too bulky, because an over-bulky textbook cannot be a reference book and is difficult to assimilate, to master. But it must contain everything fundamental relating both to the economy of our country and to the economy of capitalism and the colonial system.

During the discussion, some comrades proposed the inclusion in the textbook of a number of additional chapters: the historians — on history, the political scientists — on politics, the philosophers — on philosophy, the economists — on economics. But the effect of this would be to swell the text-book to unwieldy dimensions. That, of course, must not be done. The textbook employs the historical method to illustrate problems of political economy, but that does not mean that we must turn a textbook on political economy into a history of economic relations.

What we need is a textbook of 500 pages, 600 at most, no more. This would be a reference book on Marxist political economy — and an excellent gift to the young Communists of all countries.

Incidentally, in view of the inadequate level of Marxist development of the majority of the Communist Parties abroad, such a textbook might also be of great use to communist cadres abroad who are no longer young.

Next: Ways of Improving the Draft Textbook on Political Economy