Material and Technical Basis for Communism

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Material and Technical Basis for Communism


all the physical elements of the productive forces (above all, the means and subjects of labor) that correspond to the principles of the most progressive socioeconomic system in the history of mankind—communism. The material and technical basis for communism includes the machinery, mechanisms, equipment, and instruments of material production and of the nonproduction sphere, technological processes, organizational forms of social production, production structures, means of transportation and communication, raw materials, basic and auxiliary materials, and fuel and energy resources.

The level of development of the material and technical basis for communism can be evaluated in terms of three factors: the volume of the means of production used by a particular society; their branch and regional structure; and the scientific and technological level of the society. However, the actual degree of development or maturity of the material and technical basis for communism can only be assessed by analyzing how these criteria are reflected in the material basis for social production.

In the scientific analysis of the material and technical basis for communism the adequacy of the basis for the mode of production is a very important concept. That is, the material and technical basis for communism should have an economic and production potential that corresponds to the goals and social essence of communist society in all the stages of its establishment and development. In addition, the basis should ensure the material conditions for realizing the advantages of communist production over capitalist production.

In the Program of the CPSU, which was adopted at the Twenty-second Party Congress in 1961, the creation of the material and technical basis for communism was defined as the main economic task of the party and the Soviet people. This assessment rests on the conviction that the principles of communism will be put into practice and the socioeconomic goals of social progress achieved only with the establishment of the material and technical basis for communism. The highest goal of communism is to ensure abundant material and cultural benefits for all the people, to guarantee the preconditions for the all-round development of every member of society (depending on his interests and capabilities), and to transform labor into a vital necessity in people’s lives. Thus, the economic preconditions will be prepared and realistic possibilities established for implementing the communist principle for the distribution of wealth: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

In the final analysis, the volume and structure of the wealth consumed in a society are determined by its production capabilities. Therefore, abundant energy and material and technical resources must be created before the socioeconomic goals of communism can be achieved. In addition to production prerequisites, there are economic prerequisites—for example, ensuring higher levels of productivity of social labor and efficiency of social production than have been attained under capitalism.

To raise the productivity of social labor, all the factors determining the productive force of labor must be developed. The main factor is the introduction of automated operations as the principal means of labor in all branches of the national economy. The material and technical basis for communism reflects a higher degree of concentration of production based on powerful energy and metallurgical units, chemical equipment, and the complex interaction of automated processes. The degree of concentration of production increases to the point where diverse production facilities are united to form interrelated complexes designed to resolve on a planned basis and with a minimal expenditure of social labor the many challenges posed by the goals of communism. Thus, to resolve the problem of supplying abundant consumer goods an agrarian-industrial complex will be established. It will include all branches of agriculture, as well as the branches of industry that produce the means of production for agriculture and process its output. The problems of transporting material goods and passengers will be solved by the establishment of an integrated transportation system in which each means of transportation will be assigned a function based on economic expediency and the needs associated with the communist way of life. Cooperation in labor will expand as concentration of production is established.

The merger of the two forms of public ownership (state and cooperative or collective farm property) will lead to the gradual elimination of the socioeconomic differences between them and to the socialization of production based on communist ownership of the means of production. Under these conditions the efficient functioning of the material and technical basis for communism leads to further refinements in already known forms of the social organization of production (specialization, combination, production cooperation, and rational location), as well as to the development of fundamentally new technological processes based on the discoveries of the natural sciences, which become a direct productive force.

In the course of historical development each mode of production advances on the material and technical basis for the preceding, less progressive mode. Thus, the material and technical basis for communism is an outgrowth of the material and technical basis for socialism, whose physical elements were established by the social production of the imperialist stage of capitalism.

The material and technical basis for capitalism depends on systems of machines and a high degree of available power in many sectors. The structure of production under capitalism reflects current trends in science and technology and is characterized by the high degree to which science and production are unified and by socialization of production to the extent that, as V. I. Lenin wrote, all the necessary preconditions for the direct transition to socialism are in preparation. During the highest stage in the development of the material and technical basis for capitalism, production relations are transformed from a contributing into an inhibiting factor in the development of productive forces. Large-scale machine production and highly developed productive forces are the elements of the material and technical basis that originate under capitalism. The antagonistic contradictions between labor and capital, which are exacerbated under capitalism, give rise to the political conditions for a socialist revolution.

Communism as a socioeconomic system is established after the creation of an adequate material and technical basis. As it develops, the basis passes through a number of qualitatively different stages corresponding to communism’s first phase (socialism) and to its second and highest phase (communism). Under the economic laws of social development inherent in socialism, socialist production relations lead to the creation of a material and technical basis that differs in content and in functions from any of its predecessors. Therefore, every country in which a proletarian revolution is victorious passes through the socialist stage in the development of its material and technical basis.

As the material and technical basis for socialism is established, the features it shares with the material and technical basis for communism develop. Among these are the predominance of public ownership of the means of production, the development of large-scale machine production and scientific and technological progress based on a plan, a high and stable rate of growth in output, and utilization of the latest scientific and technological advances in the national economy. In addition, the material and technical bases for both socialism and communism are characterized by a steady growth in the productivity and efficiency of social production, which ensures the material conditions for full employment, and, consequently, for raising the material and cultural standards of living of all the working people.

In the USSR the material and technical basis for socialism has gone through a series of stages in its development: the establishment of the foundation for a socialist economy, the basic building of socialism, the creation of war-defense production structures and their adaptation to peacetime production, and the building of a developed socialist society. The Summary Report of the Central Committee of the CPSU to the Twenty-fourth Party Congress declared: “The developed socialist society to which V. I. Lenin referred in 1918 as the ’future of our country’ has been built by the selfless labor of the Soviet people. This has enabled us to tackle in practice the great task set by the Party Program, and by the latest party congresses—that of building the material and technical basis for communism” (Materialy XXIVs”ezda KPSS, 1971, p. 38).

The development of this basis will lead to a system in which all production operations are automated. The functions of human beings in labor processes will be primarily creative and will be reduced to developing automated control systems and monitoring production processes. Human labor will cease to be a source of energy for driving the means and subjects of labor.

As the material and technical basis for communism is built, the growth of society’s wealth and the improvement of the people’s well-being will depend increasingly on the steadily growing overall productive force of human labor. This, in turn, depends on the use of scientific and technological advances, the development of the social individual and of his mastery over the productive force of human labor, and knowledge of natural processes in the environment and of how to use them efficiently by applying industrial modes of production in all sectors. The growth of society’s wealth will depend less on the working time and the number of persons employed in sectors of material production. Predicting these phenomena, Marx wrote: “Labor is no longer so involved in production; it is labor in which a person, on the contrary, relates to the production process as a monitor and adjuster… . As an intermediate link between himself and the nonorganic nature which the worker has mastered he now places a natural process … which he has converted into an industrial process. Instead of being the main agent of the production process, the worker stands alongside it” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 46, part 2, p. 213).

There will be fundamental changes in attitudes toward nature as an object of labor. Industrial processes will penetrate all sectors of the economy. To a large extent natural materials will be replaced by synthetic ones—that is, by subjects of labor that are not found ready-made in nature. The industrialization of the process of labor entails an enormous increase in human power over nature, as well as the intensification of trends toward the consciously directed transformation of natural substances, owing to the broad capabilities of production and to rapidly growing social needs.

As a result of the universal dissemination of industrial methods of production, the functions of industry and agriculture will be sharply differentiated. Increasingly, the production of food products and of raw materials for light industry by agriculture will involve biological processes designed to accelerate the development of livestock and poultry and raise their productivity. Moreover, new breeds of animals and plants will be developed. Gradually, the functions now belonging to the agricultural sector of social production will fall into specialized industrial sectors in the agrarian-industrial complex. Among these functions are the energy supply and the preparation of feeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and growth stimulators for plants, livestock, and poultry.

In industry the production of finished goods will be separated from the preparatory stages of production. Research, design, process planning, production of samples, and the development of design and production technology will take place under conditions of experimental production at centralized research and planning-design production facilities or at scientific production organizations. For the most part, individual enterprises will manufacture goods on a large scale, making extensive use of robots and other automatic systems of production and quality control, as well as various systems to control the information flow on the condition of all production units and the economic activity of enterprises, production complexes, and sectors. Structural changes in production related to the extensive use of chemical, physicochemical, and biological methods on the subjects of labor will foster the universal spread of industrial methods. Continuous production processes, which are well suited to automation are characteristic of these chemical, physicochemical, and biological methods.

These progressive changes in social production are fully realized when there are communist production relations.

Creation of the material and technical basis for communism is secured primarily by the further expansion of research in the natural sciences, including pure and applied mathematics, the theory of machines and automated production, information theory, the development of the principles of building new electronic computers, and problems related to the atomic nucleus, plasma, and solid-state physics. Scientists are conducting research into the theoretical problems of new materials and synthetic and high-purity substances, as well as the theoretical problems of the physicochemical basis of the vital processes and physiology of humans, animals, and plants. Studies of the sun, moon, planets, and interplanetary space are aimed at finding new sources of energy and improving weather forecasting. The earth’s structure, geological processes, physicochemical and biological processes in the seas and oceans, and the cycle and balance of water are studied to make possible an increase in the natural resources drawn into economic circulation and to create the preconditions for purposeful human influence on nature and on conservation.

The social sciences play an important role in solving the problems of building the material and technical basis for communism by conducting fundamental research on the regularities of the development of socioeconomic processes insofar as they coincide with scientific and technological progress, by studying the use of computer technology in the planned administration of the national economy and in the planned development of society, and by investigating the all-around development of the personality. The fundamental features of the material and technical basis for communism take shape on the basis of the natural and social sciences and the technological application of their findings.

The electrification of an entire country revolutionizes social production along communist principles. Pointing out the determining role of electrification in the transformation of society, Lenin wrote that “without electrification the communist order is impracticable” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 41, p. 132). Today, all branches of production and their administration, as well as cultural and welfare services, depend on electrical energy. The trend toward increased consumption of electricity in social production is firmly established.

As the material and technical basis for communism is created, mechanized production reaches a qualitatively new level of development, becoming the highest form of social production in all sectors of the economy.

One of the most important features of the material and technical basis for communism is the introduction of chemical processes and the spread of chemical technology to all sectors. The principles of synthesizing substances with predetermined properties are discovered and applied. The increasing possibility of obtaining products with a broad range of properties and qualities and the spread of chemical technology in production bring about conditions for the fuller satisfaction of social needs.

The development of the material and technical basis for communism is not simply a matter of quantitative growth and a rise in the technical level of production. As the material and technical basis develops, it creates the material preconditions for socioeconomic changes. The long-term plans for the development of the economy of the USSR and the comprehensive program for scientific and technological progress reflect the most important socioeconomic consequences of the creation of the material and technical basis for communism and of the scientific and technological progress which it embodies.

Above all, as the material and technical basis for communism develops, social production attains the level necessary to satisfy the needs of the members of society for material goods and services. These needs are based on economically rational norms, as well as on scientifically sound physiological ones. The material and technical basis for communism also entails the acceleration of the rate of growth in the productivity of social labor, until the growth in gross product in most sectors of the national economy can be guaranteed by stabilizing or even by decreasing working time. That is, increased gross product will depend exclusively on increased labor productivity. By the same token, in social production the economic preconditions will be established for the further redistribution of labor and other resources in the interests of the accelerated development of the nonproduction sphere (education, science, health, cultural and aesthetic education, and other areas necessary to the all-around development of the personality and the molding of the new man).

The educational system is the principal factor in training workers who are sufficiently qualified and knowledgeable to build the material and technical basis for communism. In addition to compulsory general secondary education, broad occupational training and adequate general theoretical education should be provided. If a harmonious combination of applied and theoretical education is available, labor processes can be made more creative, and, as a result, a highly conscious and comprehensively developed personality can be shaped and higher labor productivity attained. When the highest possible level of labor productivity has been reached, the historic task of establishing the complete economic superiority of communism over capitalism will have been accomplished.

As the material and technical basis for communism develops and the advances of the scientific and technological revolution are embodied in it, the production relations of developed socialism will become communist production relations, which are characterized by greater maturity. This prepares the conditions for achieving complete economic and social homogeneity, for overcoming the fundamental differences between mental and physical labor and between the city and the countryside, and for protecting the environment.

The material and technical basis for communism, which reflects the socialist division of labor and socialist economic integration, is being established on an international scale. A trend toward internationalization has emerged and is growing stronger in economics. It has been stimulated by the objective necessity for joint economic, production, and intellectual efforts by the socialist countries to apply scientific and technological advances and bring newly discovered natural resources into economic circulation to develop productive forces, make socioeconomic progress, and create normal conditions for expanded capital reproduction. In most cases, the transition of many industrial and agricultural sectors to mass production calls for a market larger than the national. These trends accelerate the creation of a material and technical basis adequate to the tasks of socioeconomic development in the socialist countries.


Marx, K. Nishcheta filosofii. In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 4.
Marx, K. Kapital Ibid., vol. 23, pp. 382-515.
Lenin, V. I. Ocherednye zadachiSovetskoi vlasti. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 36.
Lenin, V. I. VIII Vserossiiskii s”edz Sovetov 22-29 dekabria 1920. Ibid., vol. 42.
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Materialy XXIII s”ezda KPSS. Moscow, 1966.
Materialy XXIV s”ezda KPSS. Moscow, 1971.
Marksizm-leninizm o material’no-tekhnicheskoi baze kommunizma. Moscow, 1963.
Material’no-tekhnicheskaia baza stran sotsializma. Moscow, 1967.
“Zakonomernosti i puti sozdaniia material’no-tekhnicheskoi bazy kommunizma.” In Ekonomicheskie zakonomernosti pererastaniia sotsializma v kommunizm. Moscow, 1967.
Tolkachev, A. S. Ekonomicheskie problemy material’no-tekhnicheskoi bazy kommunizma v SSSR. Moscow, 1971. (With bibliography.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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