chapter  5
123 Pages

Planning and Soviet economy: eight articles

That extraordinarily interesting and fertile debate in the 1920'S about the possible roads of Soviet development was singularly neglected by English economists at the time. It did not seem to fit into their categories of thought, still set in a very Victorian mould, from which only a few were emerging. To do economists justice, one has to remember that the Soviet debate had a very alien sound to their ears, even when they were aware of it. Much of it was conducted inpolemical tones and in a strange jargon. For the 'Western' economist it was rather shocking to listen to nonsense (even 'wicked nonsense') about finding ways of transition to socialism and about such things as class conflict and 'breaking out of capitalist encirclement'. Like most polemics from any century, this one was impatient of the finer touches that academic discourse is apt to regard as the hallmark of professional sophistication, and often tended to lack the precision of formulation which any Ph.D. candidate is supposed to wear. Even when the debate had an academic flavour, it was overlaid with Marxian terminology and with tiresomely unfamiliar concepts like departments ofsocial reproduction, constant and variable capital and surplus product.