Correspondence Between Production Relations and the Character and

Correspondence Between Production Relations and the Character and Level of Development of the Productive Forces, Law of the

 

a general economic law of the development of society, operating in all socioeconomic formations. The law of the correspondence between production relations and the character and level of development of the productive forces expresses the interaction of productive forces, the base for the development of production, and production relations, the social form of the productive forces. The law, which was first discovered and substantiated by K. Marx, demonstrates the dependence of production relations on the level and character of development of the productive forces, and vice versa. In the book A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Marx wrote: “In the social production of their lives, men enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their wills, relations of production which correspond to a definite stage of development of the material productive forces” (in K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 13, p. 6).

The productive forces and the relations of production constitute an entity in which the productive forces play the determining role. The level of development of the productive forces directly determines the mode of production of material wealth. Thus, the primitive communal mode of production was based on relatively undeveloped means of production, which did not permit the individual worker to perform his work without dependence on others. The members of the primitive commune had to work together to produce the necessities of life. Collective farming and insignificant output resulted in the equal distribution of the necessities of life among all members of the commune. Improvements in the instruments of labor led to specialization in labor, the emergence of private ownership of the means of production, and the division of society into classes. New instruments of labor made it possible for the individual worker to produce more of the necessities of life than he needed to support his life. Surplus product emerged, and the production relations of the slaveholding and feudal modes of production developed.

A characteristic feature of antagonistic formations during their period of disintegration is the outstripping of the production relations by the productive forces. The predominant form of appropriation impedes the development of the productive forces. Thus, under capitalism, an antagonistic contradiction emerged between the social character of production and the private form of appropriation. This contradiction was inevitable in the evolution of the aggregate of production relations. During the period of the establishment of the capitalist mode of production this contradiction was hidden, because the private form of the appropriation of the results of the exploitation of wage laborers stimulated the development of the productive forces. The capitalists were interested in the creation and improvement of machinery and technology, since the growth of labor productivity ensures an increase in surplus value. But machine production, the means of bringing about an increase in surplus value, also became the material basis for periodic crises of overproduction. The first crisis showed that the further development of the productive forces, within the framework of capitalist production relations, is possible only if a part of the output is destroyed. Thus, the social productive forces came into conflict with the private form of appropriation.

The capitalist form of appropriation, which gives rise to anarchy in social production, and to the accumulation of riches on one side and increasing poverty on the other, no longer corresponds to the level and character of the development of the productive forces. To ensure the overall development of the productive forces, it is necessary to abolish capitalist production relations, rather than to make partial changes in individual elements of these. The lack of correspondence between the productive forces and capitalist production relations becomes especially clear under imperialism. “The epoch of capitalist imperialism,” emphasized V. I. Lenin, “is one of ripe and rotten-ripe capitalism, which is about to collapse, and which is mature enough to make way for socialism” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 27, p. 116). The ripened contradiction can only be solved by a socialist revolution. Coming to political power, the proletariat, jointly with the peasantry, abolishes capitalist private property, establishes public ownership of the means of production, and creates appropriate bodies to manage socialist production. Under these conditions, a totality of social production relations takes shape, in which the fundamental relation is the consistent unification of associated producers and the socialized means of production. The new relations of ownership of the means of production correspond to the social character of the productive forces.

In the socialist countries, the law of correspondence is taken into account by the Communist and workers’ parties in building a new society and in determining the long-range plans for its development. In the USSR industrial enterprises, the building industry, transportation, communications, trade, and agriculture changed over to a new system of planning and economic incentives, because of the increased volume of social production, as well as the necessity of developing initiatives by collectives in enterprises, in order to improve the production process and increase its efficiency. Changes in the forms of management of social production became the basis for establishing the correspondence between the productive forces and the production relations.

The domination of public ownership of the means of production prevents the disparity between the various elements of the social production relations and the level and character of the productive forces from growing into an antagonistic conflict and presupposes the comprehensive use of the operation of the law of correspondence in the transition from socialism to communism.

REFERENCES

Marx, K. K kritikepoliticheskoi ekonomii. In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 13, pp. 6–7.
Marx, K., and F. Engels. Manifest Kommunisticheskoipartii, ibid., vol. 4, p. 429.
Lenin, V. I. Imperializm, kak vysshaia stadiia kapitalizma. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 27, pp. 385–406.
Lenin, V. I. Opportunizm i krakh II Internatsionala. Ibid., vol. 26, p. 116.
Programma Kommunisticheskoi partii Sovetskogo Soyuza. Moscow, 1974. Page 21.
“Ob uluchshenii upravleniia promyshlennost’iu, sovershenstvovanii planirovaniia i usilenii economicheskogo stimulirovaniia promyshlennogo proizvodstva: Postanovlenie plenuma Tsentral’nogo Komiteta KPSS 27–29 sentiabria 1965 g.” In KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh i resheniiakh s”ezdov, konferentsii i plenumov Tsentral’nogo Komiteta, vol. 8. Moscow, 1972.

N. V. MOSKOVCHENKO

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