Translated and Edited by Mike Baker: published by the
Movement for Workers' Councils, London 1990.
Marked up by Jonas Holmgren for the Marxists Internet Archive.
Control over the GSU (public) establishments runs to a certain extent parallel with that of the productive establishments. This applies particularly to the supervision of the separate categories making up the production formula (p + c) + L, which takes place through the registration of use-values and the distribution of labour-certificates. To this extent control arises spontaneously out of the objective process of production itself.
The output produced by these establishments, however, passes over to society without compensation, and thus they receive no credit entry for this either in the books of the establishment or in the office of social book-keeping. In these cases neither the quantity of product produced - that is to say, their Average Social Production Time (ASPT) - nor the reproduction process (extended accumulation) assumes the role of the controlling factor. Those establishments, therefore, which yield up their product for individual consumption without any economic measure are subject to automatic control in only one direction: that provided by the objective or impersonal aspect of the production process alone, since the aspect of labour-time expended (L) is not measured. It is, of course, possible to conceive of a myriad of methods by means of which these establishments could be brought systematically under control, in order to ensure that social resources are administered as sparingly and economically as possible. The point, however, is not to devise out of the top of one's head methods of control which would presumably correspond with the specific characteristics of the particular establishment in question; on the contrary, the task is precisely that of determining that particular form of control which reflects organically the character of social production as a whole and so is common to all establishments.
In an early inceptive period of a communist economy, it would be likely that only those establishments would belong to the type of GSU or "public" establishments which produce no physical product, such as for instance the economic and political councils, the health service, the education system, etc. The next stage of development would then likely be that of bringing the transport of goods and passengers into the sphere of uncompensated consumption. At a still more distant stage, the principle of "consumption according to need" might be extended to physically definable and measurable products destined for individual consumption. In the course of carrying through the social revolution, the first concern is therefore not with the immediate implementation to the greatest possible extent of the principle "to each according to his needs", but with the achievement of independent administration on the part of the productive establishments and the carrying through of a system of independent production accounting and control. So soon as production is secured in this respect, the further development of the economy to the stage of free and uncompensated consumption becomes a relatively simple matter.
In the case of all those establishments which permit of automatic control in only one direction, it is likely that the missing sphere of control would be made good by means of on-the-spot investigative comparisons. Comparisons of operative indices would, for instance, be instituted in order to determine how many labour-hours were being devoted to education in one or the other commune, how many labour-hours were consumed in the various cities in providing and servicing one kilometre of public roadway, and so on. In those cases in which a physically measurable product is distributed socially - for instance, electricity - control by means of the average social labour-time expended would once again become applicable. Now, however, it would have to be borne in mind that control would not be carried through automatically as a planned element in the work of the office of social book-keeping, but must now take place in the book-keeping department of the establishment concerned.
As a subordinate task within the general system of control exercised over the public establishments, there now also arises the need for control over the distribution of consumption goods. The consumers distribute the products themselves independently through the agency of their cooperatives, they are "masters in their own house". Because individual wishes here find collective expression, it is they who determine exactly what and how much is to be distributed. Their executive organ is an establishment of the GSU type, which draws up an operational budget defining its consumption of (p + c) + L and which defines its functional service as consisting in the distribution of x labour-hours.
Control over the production formula is again effected in pursuit of one purpose only: that of determining whether or not the limits laid down for the specific categories making up the production formula are being maintained - both of these yielding, as a by-product, data confirming or denying that the production formula had been correctly drawn up in the first place.
The question of control over the quantity of product distributed is also a relatively simple matter, precisely because all transfers of goods are registered in the system of general social book-keeping and because the products pass into the sphere of consumption in exact accordance with their production times. In the office of social book-keeping an exact record is maintained as to how much product, that is to say how many labour-hours, have been drawn upon to the account of each consumer cooperative. Labour certificates to exactly the same value in labour-hours must have been surrendered to the office of social book-keeping.
There are, of course certain technical difficulties associated with this procedure. For instance, the distributive organisations must take into account the fact that a portion of the available product will be lost, destroyed or damaged. For this reason it can it practice never arise that exactly the same quantity of labour certificates will have been surrendered as corresponds to the equivalent debit with the office of social book-keeping. The limits within which these deficits should move are, however, easy to determine in practice and for that reason can, be adopted, for instance, as a category in the operative budget of the distributive organisation. Control over the processes of distribution is not in principle jeopardised by these unavoidable product losses, and the principle of an exact relationship of the producer to the product is not thereby infringed.
By this means control over both production and distribution is complete. Each category of the production-reproduction formula can be exactly scrutinised by society. Control is reduced to its simplest possible form and the economic process is so clearly perceivable that the system of open book-keeping makes direct control on the part of all members of society possible.
With the combined apparatus of production and distribution, the total economic system, firmly and permanently in the hands of the producer-consumers, the apparatus of the economic system of communism has found its highest and most ideal unified form, which can come into being only through the integrated operation of all productive forces, and can indeed be nothing other than this. Society thus becomes THE ASSOCIATION OF FREE AND EQUAL PRODUCERS. In the socio-political sphere this finds its highest expression in the system of Workers' Councils, and in the economic sphere in the system of General Social Book-keeping.