Soviet Economics as Primacy of Consciousness

 Posted by on 14 April 2004 at 6:01 pm  Uncategorized
Apr 142004

I’m presently reading Robert Conquest’s The Harvest of Sorrow, a very thorough and fascinating history of the famine in the Soviet Union that killed millions as a result of Stalin’s collectivization and dekulakization of the rural peasants in the early 1930s. In the late 1920s, as this process began, economists were not exactly in support of the attempt to so quickly and radically change the economic structures. But, as Conquest says, “as 1929 wore on there were a number of statements which made clear that [the economists] had the choice of supporting the politicians’ new plans or going to prison” (111). Conquest then notes that the political leadership even “imposed an end to economic research in ‘mathematical models of growth, studies of investment allocations and effectiveness, models of accumulation and consumption, research on management models, and studies on the scientific organization of labor and many other endeavors” (111-2). Most astonishing is what Stalin’s economist Strumilin said about all that:

Our task is not to study economics but to change it. We are bound by no laws. There are no fortresses which Bolsheviks cannot storm. The question of tempo [of change] is subject to decision by human beings.

Really, I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen a more naked advocacy of Primacy of Consciousness in my whole life… and by materialists, no less! Wow.

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