The Future of Russia Is Socialism

NEW – July 17, 2022

Part I. About the theory and practice of socialism

An analysis of global development clearly shows that the strongest confrontation is unfolding in the world between the United States and its satellites – the collective West, against Russia, against socialist China.

Everyone probably remembers very well how at the meeting of the Valdai Club on October 21, 2021, Vladimir Putin made a very capacious theoretical statement that “the existing model of capitalism – and this is now the basis of the social structure in the vast majority of countries – has exhausted itself, and there is no way out of the tangle of increasingly complicated contradictions within its framework”.

Vladimir Putin emphasised that “the crisis of capitalism that we are dealing with is a conceptual, even civilisational, crisis of the principles of human existence on Earth”. This statement by V. Putin is important for determining the future of Russia.

We emphasise that in the conditions of tough sanctions and economic war declared by the United States and the collective West of Russia, it is impossible to continue to be in the capitalist economic field. Russia’s attempts to continue building capitalism in a single country, following in the wake of a liberal monetarist course, inevitably lead to failure and defeat, up to the collapse of the Russian Federation, which is what the United States and the collective West are seeking. Objectively, there is a need for an alternative to the future development of Russia. This is the first and main conclusion.

We emphasise the second important point. From a political and economic point of view, in order for Russia to survive as a sovereign state, as a single territory, as a single multinational nation, it is necessary to have not only a superior military potential and a detailed plan of military-technical measures, but also the necessary level of economic security of the national economic complex of the state. And this, as evidenced by the thirty-year experience of “reforming” the Russian economy along the capitalist path [1], which has led the country to a dead end, in turn implies a qualitatively different model of the domestic economy.

At the meeting of the President of the Russian Federation with the leadership of the State Duma and the heads of political party factions in the State Duma on July 7, 2022 in the Ekaterina Hall of the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin stressed: “as for the socialist idea, there is nothing wrong with it. It’s a question of content – what to fill it with, especially in the economic sphere.” As we can see, in this succinct definition V. Putin actually touches on two complex problems.

The first problem, and a very difficult one, as world experience shows, is the question of the theory and practice of socialism.

First of all, if we consider the theory and practice of socialism, no matter how bitter it is to generalise, it was Soviet socialism, ossified on the dogmas of the theory of the 30s and 40s, that was the economic basis that led to the collapse of the socialist mode of production, the collapse of the USSR.

There is no doubt that Soviet socialism, within the framework of the world system, formed a new civilisation. It significantly raised the industry, culture and quality of life in the Soviet Union, carried out modernisation, mass industrialisation, and the cultural revolution, thereby ensuring the creation of sufficiently powerful productive forces that allowed the Soviet people to win during the Great Patriotic War, achieve significant success in nuclear power and space research.

Soviet socialism won not only in Russia, but also had a positive impact on the modernisation of capitalism. Thus, the Great Depression in the United States prompted Roosevelt to borrow the Soviet experience in managing the economy, Soviet methods of concentration of management – the formation of a mobilisation economy. It was Soviet socialism that forced capitalism to bend towards social justice, forced it to share capital with its peoples.

But, on the other hand, the fact that capitalism was objectively forced to share increased the hatred of the apologists of capitalism for socialism and they did not spare money for the collapse of the USSR and the socialist camp.

At the same time, the ossification of ideology could not withstand direct competition with the system of market capitalism. There is no doubt that the Soviet person was proud of the great achievements of socialism. However, if an ordinary citizen of the USSR suddenly went abroad, as the people say, their eyes popped out from the abundance of products and goods for the population when they visited shopping complexes.

During the 60s and 80s, the Western values of “decaying capitalism” were firmly embedded in Soviet society. Especially in the minds of young people. As a result, society and even 19 million members of the CPSU “swallowed” the sovereignisation of the Union Republics, and then the collapse of the USSR. It is also not surprising that the population voted for Boris Yeltsin, who promised, as a candidate for president of the RSFSR in 1991, that by reforming the economy along the course of market fundamentalism, Russians would live like in the West in a year and a half or two.

From the beginning of the 90s and almost until the end of the second decade of 2000, the category “socialism” fell out of the political and economic lexicon, and if it was mentioned – then in a negative way. Even in the materials of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, “Just Russia”, and the speeches of their leaders, this category fundamental for the parties, not to mention the scientific ways of its development, if it can be seen, then only with the help of a magnifying glass with large diopters.

In the last two or three years, the category “socialism” has started to appear in the media in the form of “renewed” (CPRF) or “new” socialism. I will immediately emphasise that from a scientific point of view, there can be no “developed” or “human-faced” (CPSU), “renewed” or “new” socialism.

In scientific theory, what is commonly called socialism is what Marx, in his Critique of the Gotha Program, called “the first or lowest phase of communist society”. Marx emphasised that socialism as the first phase of the communist socio-economic formation cannot be considered as a short-term stage devoid of its own socio-economic content. It functions and develops over a long (!!)…. a long historical era [2].

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Relying on Marxist methodology, it is not difficult to prove that the socialist mode of production in the USSR, based on the ideology of Soviet socialism, unfortunately, in many respects had major flaws with the Marxist understanding of socialism.

The fundamental theoretical error of Soviet socialism was that the Constitution of the USSR, adopted by the 8th Extraordinary Congress of Soviets on December 5, 1936, proclaimed that socialism in the USSR had won and had basically been built [3].

The 18th Congress of the CPSU (b) (March 10-21, 1939) also recorded that “the socialist mode of production has become dominant, that socialism in the USSR has basically been built, and the country has entered a new stage of development — the completion of the construction of a socialist society”.

The thesis of the victory of socialism in the USSR contained in the Constitution of the USSR of 1936 and at the 18th Congress of the CPSU (b) was overestimated by the stages of socialism and followed from the simplified criteria for completing the construction of socialism in the USSR. Only one of the criteria was taken into account – the degree of coverage of state (and even non-public – according to Marx) ownership of the means of production, and this was aimed at fixing in place the process of nationalisation from a legal point of view.

Meanwhile, the revolutionary nationalisation of property led to the suppression of the economic activity of a significant number of citizens. It was known that already in those 30s, as statistics showed, in the developed countries of the world from 40 to 60% of the gross national product (GNP) was produced by small and medium-sized businesses on a private form of ownership, which in the USSR was just crushed and eliminated.

Meanwhile, according to Marx, socialism is not a special system, but a symbiosis of two social systems: outgoing capitalism and incoming communism, where the first gradually becomes less and the second – more and more. Socialism is the existence of commodity-money relations and a multi-structured economy in which the state regulates market relations from a social perspective. In other words, socialism allows for the existence of medium, small and even large private property, but the main role in the economy is played by state monopolies, especially structure-forming ones.

Forced and facilitated “passing” through the stages and phases of building socialism, as was the case in the Soviet Union, has become a characteristic feature of many political leaders of the USSR, leaders of the socialist camp.

Let me remind you of N. Khrushchyov’s thesis that “the current generation of Soviet people will live under communism”, which was going to be built by 1980. Or “providing the country’s population with a separate isolated apartment by 2000”. There were many absurdities, unfounded decisions, subjectivist and voluntaristic mistakes that characterise the accelerated run ahead in the construction of “developed socialism”.

It is not surprising that by the beginning of the 80s with the ideology of socialism in the USSR there were big problems – the theory of Marxism-Leninism fell into a deep decline.

The article of the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU Yu. Andropov in the magazine “Kommunist” (March 1983) “The doctrine of Karl Marx and some questions of socialist construction” listed many problems of Soviet socialism that do not fit between theory and practice.

In six months, Yu. Andropov at the Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU (June 15, 1983), devoted to ideological issues, summarises the political, economic and ideological situation in the country: “We have not yet properly studied the society in which we live and work, we have not fully revealed its inherent laws, especially economic ones. Therefore, sometimes we are forced to act, so to speak, empirically, in a very irrational way of trial and error.”

It was only at the 28th Congress of the CPSU (July 2-13, 1990), “Towards humane, democratic socialism” that it was recorded that “The Party considers it necessary to create conditions for the formation and development of diverse and equal forms of ownership, their integration and free competition”. It was also stressed that private ownership should also be included in the system of forms of ownership. It was precisely this theoretical and practical thesis that, in the opinion of the Congress, consolidated the political, economic and ideological renewal of socialism, and was theoretically legitimate, although very, very late.

In January 1993, the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation approved me as the head of the delegation of People’s Deputies of the Russian Federation to China. The delegation got acquainted with the socio-economic reform in China, the development of free economic zones, in particular, “Shanghai” and “Pudong”, the development of agriculture and pond fish farming [4].

The essence of the reform in China was that from the communist radicalism that prevailed during the time of Mao Zedong, China began to move to a more moderate policy of “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. Market relations were actively introduced into the planned economy, and economic reform began to be carried out smoothly and evolutionarily.

At the same time, I met with Premier of the State Council Li Peng. He had graduated from the Moscow Power Engineering Institute, spoke good Russian, and knew the pros and cons of socialism in the USSR. Li Peng spoke about the transformation in China over the past decade, the results achieved and the development strategy. Even at that time, China had a strategy for socio-economic development until 2050, on the basis of which five-year plans were formed. Li Peng summarised that the construction of socialism in China is carried out on the basis of scientific, Marxist theory, taking into account the correction of the mistakes of the USSR and the use of the positive experience of developed countries.

The public sector in China today accounts for 70% of production. State-owned enterprises employ 70% of all industrial workers and employees. In other words, the public sector has been and remains the backbone of China’s socialist-type economy. At the same time, small and medium-sized businesses are widely developed. Imagine that China’s agriculture has managed to feed almost 1.5 billion of its population.

It is not superfluous to mention India. India, which implements “Gandhian” socialism, also combines strategic central planning with a market economy, where the state plays a dominant role in organising money circulation and provides private businesses with unlimited access to money if this leads to an increase in public welfare.

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Therefore, it is not surprising that the global economy is rapidly shifting to Southeast Asia, which already accounts for more than half of gross domestic product growth.

Do the supporters of market fundamentalism, the leaders of the current economic bloc of Russia’s executive power, understand this? I have no doubt that they understand. But, as the President of the Russian Federation V. Putin succinctly summarised this activity – “fifth column”, they continue to act according to the recipes of international financial institutions and the “Washington Consensus”.

Meanwhile, since the first year of the restoration of capitalism in Russia, its “advantages” have been fully revealed: in terms of industrial production in general, and in most economic activities, the Russian Federation has not yet reached the level of 1990, and the crisis, especially in the knowledge-intensive sector of the economy, has been going on for more than 30 years.

In terms of wages in real terms, Russians still have not reached the level of 1990, that is, they are 30 years behind themselves. And in terms of the integral quality of life indicator, which is the average life expectancy at birth, we are at the level of 1960 – we are 60 years behind ourselves.

Therefore, the conclusion is unambiguous: based on the theory of the development of socio-economic formations, the experience of building socialism in China and India, the most acceptable model for the Russian Federation could be a model of political and economic development based on the state planning and market mechanism that forms a socially just society of the socialist type [5]. Exactly socialist!

In the conditions of the special operation in Ukraine, the global, protracted economic war unleashed by the United States and the collective West against Russia, it is precisely a clear, socialist ideology, more understandable than capitalism, that is able to consolidate society. It is the ideology of socialism that allowed the Soviet people, who are actually behind the iron curtain, to form a powerful national economic complex during the first five-year plans and win the war against fascism.

Orientation to the ideology of socialism is also important from the point of view of forming a bloc between Russia and China and the countries of Southeast Asia. The real China-Russia bloc, which is based on a single ideology and has a powerful military-political and economic potential, cannot be defeated. The West understands this and seeks to weaken the emerging Sino-Russian alliance, looking for ways to increase the distance between Moscow and Beijing.

Part II. Economic content of Russian socialism.

Considering the problem of socialism, Vladimir Putin, at a meeting with the leadership of the State Duma and political party factions on July 7, 2022, highlighted another important problem: “It’s a question of content – what to fill it with, especially in the economic sphere”, socialism.

Let me remind you that the primitive, liberal “self-organising” model of economic development, which has been used in Russia for 30 years and has led the country’s economy to a dead end, has long been abandoned by almost all countries – both in the West and in the East. A real “economic miracle”, as the world experience shows, is possible when relying on market relations only with the active participation of the state.

The model in which the state provides a breakthrough in the economy is called the “development state” model: the state actively compensates for the shortcomings of the free market, providing support for priority high-tech industries. Examples include Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, India and, of course, socialist China. The impressive economic growth that has taken place in these countries was made possible precisely by the active role of the state and its intervention in market processes.

The core of the new model of Russian society should be the formation of a society of genuine social justice, the revival and transformation of the high-tech complex as a base for innovative renewal of all sectors of the Russian economy. Without a radical renewal of the sphere of material production, it is impossible to achieve Russia’s rightful place in the world.

The first step in socialising the Russian economy, even in the harsh conditions of the Western sanctions policy, should be to develop a strategy of socio-economic development of Russia for 25-30 years, understandable to the majority of the country’s population, and on this basis to develop a program of high-quality economic growth, specified in five-year and annual plans, reform of education, healthcare, pension spheres. The national projects implemented in Russia are positive in themselves, but unfortunately they are not connected with each other and do not represent a coherent strategy.

Russia’s long-term socio-economic development strategy and five-year plans should include the main socio-economic advantages of socialism in relation to capitalism: the use of productive forces in the interests of the entire society for crisis-free economic development, people’s confidence in the future, ensuring universal employment in public production, eliminating unemployment and inflation, and ensuring social guarantees essential for a normal human life: free education, free medicine, free housing. At the same time, it takes into account the promotion of small and medium-sized businesses as a form of using the economic activity of a significant number of citizens.

Already in the first five years, it is possible to achieve annual GDP growth rates of at least 10% by clearly defining in the state plan the priority areas for the development of those economic sectors that will ensure sufficient independence of Russia from external supplies, and first of all, this is the defence complex, machine tool building, fuel and energy complex, transport, communications , knowledge-intensive and other strategic industries, while not forgetting the development of the private sector of the economy.

The main direction of economic policy, without which the country has no future, is the structural adjustment of the economy in the real sector of production. This applies primarily to budget-forming and strategically important enterprises of the fuel and energy complex, ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, chemical industry, defence complex, railway, sea, river and air transport, fishing fleet. At the same time, it is necessary to maximise the use of the industrial potentials of Belarus and Ukraine in the form of close cooperation and a joint industrial policy.

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Addressing these challenges will require a sharp increase in the rate of accumulation and direct investment in the real economy, while at the same time increasing investment in human capital as the most important source of economic growth.

It is extremely important to form a closed and self-sufficient national economic complex, which would increase the capacity of the domestic market by increasing the effective demand of the population. In fact, we are talking about re-industrialisation of the Russian economy at a qualitatively new level.

Agricultural production will require special treatment, not only as a supplier of food and raw materials, but above all as a habitat for the villagers, which in fact was destroyed during the 30-year period of “reform”. It is precisely ensuring the country’s food independence that is the most important task of the village, without solving which there can be no question of any sovereignty of the country.

Increasing the capacity of the real sector of the economy will eliminate unemployment, ensure that wages and pensions are at least three times higher than the subsistence minimum, and improve the quality of life of the population.

In order to regulate and manage financial flows, complete and effective currency control, and ensure the normal functioning of production, trade, and the economy as a whole, it is necessary to form a unified system for managing and controlling financial flows in the country, headed by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, which is accountable to the Russian Parliament.

This is just the rough content of Russian socialism – the task set by the President of the Russian Federation V. Putin. More detailed proposals for reforming the national economic complex while transferring it to a new socio-economic course are set out by us in the “Comprehensive Program for Leading the Country out of the Crisis”.

But this is only the first part of the task put forward by Vladimir Putin – the economic content of socialism. The second part is related to the current moment.

In the conditions of an all-out economic war between the United States and the collective West against Russia, it will be necessary to quickly form a new model of the economic mechanism that would nullify the sanctions blow and put the country on the path of economic growth. The transition to such a new model is possible on the basis of a set of mobilisation measures.

The key to solving this problem may be the latest version of the Mobilization Plan of the Ministry of Defence, developed in accordance with the Federal Law “On Mobilisation Training and Mobilisation in the Russian Federation” [6].

First and foremost, it is necessary to accelerate the transition to domestic sources of growth and overcome excessive dependence on exports. First of all, it is necessary to strengthen the focus on expanding and meeting domestic demand, actively promote innovations in science and technology, accelerate the development of digital industries, and promote the emergence of more new poles and growth points, thereby gradually forming a system based on the domestic market,

We have already noted that the scientific management system in the country has actually collapsed, it works in a momentary mode, in the form of “manual control” and solves only momentary problems. At a meeting with members of the government on the situation in the Russian fuel and energy complex on July 8, 2022, Vladimir Putin was forced to gently correct some members of the government. “Some colleagues,” Vladimir Putin stressed, “how should I put it, have a superficial attitude to the measures that we should take to stop possible threats……..I don’t care about them, these sanctions, they went away, everything is already in the past, we have coped with everything and feel confident”. But it was necessary to demolish the “fifth column”, especially in the economic bloc, already yesterday.

The Russian President called on the Russian authorities to be guided “exclusively by national interests and do everything possible to protect the economy and the well-being of citizens” under strict sanctions conditions, anticipating possible risks and new sanctions pressures.

Taking into account the current difficult situation, the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation will have to form an appropriate legal framework for the most efficient use of all internal resources, filling the public and private sectors of the economy with them, anticipating a set of measures to prepare the Russian economy in advance for further possible sanctions, as required by Article 1.1 of the Federal Law.

Concluding the analysis, I would like to summarise again: the future of Russia lies with Russian socialism, the economy of which is based on the state planning and market mechanism, which forms a socially just society of the socialist type.

[1] See: Voronin Yu. M. The Greatest Russian Depression. Finance. Money. Investments, No. 2, 2009; From destruction to creation: an alternative to the economic course of liberal fundamentalism. M., LENAND, 2014; Modernisation and restructuring of the economy: political and economic aspect. M., 2014; The Greatest Russian Depression. Int. ed. house LAP (Lambert Academic Publishing), 2014; Russia without a future: the failure of a development strategy. “Arguments of the week”, 01/09/2021

[2] Marx K. and Engels F. Soch. v.19.

[3] The Constitution of the USSR of 1936 is the Basic Law of the USSR, adopted by the VIII Extraordinary Congress of Soviets on December 5, 1936, and valid until 1977. I.V. Stalin was directly involved in the work on the text of the constitution, so it subsequently received unofficial names: “Stalin’s Constitution”, “The Constitution of Victorious Socialism”.

[4] See for more details: Yu. Voronin, Strangled Russia: A Political and Economic Portrait of Yeltsinism. M., PROZAiK, 2014

[5] See: “Russia is at a fork in the road: the country again faces a choice which way to go”, Novye Izvestiya, 06/23/2022; “Russia at the fork”, “Arguments of the week”, 06/25/2022.

[6] See: On mobilisation training and mobilisation in the Russian Federation. Federal Law of February 26, 1997 No. 31-FZ. With amendments and additions dated: July 16, 1998, August 5, 2000, December 30, 2001, March 21, December 24, 2002, December 23, 2003, August 22, December 29, 2004, December 31 2005, February 2, October 25, 2006, March 9, 2010, December 30, 2012, April 5, 2013, December 28, 2016, February 22, 2017

Yury Voronin

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