Noncapitalist Path of Development

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Noncapitalist Path of Development


a specific revolutionary process by which the material and productive, socioeconomic, and political conditions are created for the transition to socialist development in countries characterized by great economic and social backwardness (for example, many former colonies and semicolonial countries). The noncapitalist path of development makes it possible for a country to avoid, substantially shorten, or even interrupt the capitalist stage of development. During the transition period a national front of progressive, revolutionary democratic forces, including—besides the workers, the peasants, and the urban petit bourgeois strata —even patriotic circles of the national bourgeoisie, carries out anti-imperialist and antifeudal socioeconomic transformations, laying the foundation for the country’s subsequent development toward socialism.

Marx and Engels were the first to suggest that under particular historical conditions it might be possible for backward countries to make the transition to socialism without passing through the capitalist stage of development, or by experiencing a considerably shorter capitalist stage than the developed countries. Engels observed that after the victory of the socialist revolution in the industrially developed countries “the backward countries will see from this example ’how to do it,’ how ... to take the path of a foreshortened process of development” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 22, p. 446).

The idea of the noncapitalist path was further developed by Lenin. Speaking at the Second Congress of the Comintern in 1920, he asserted: “It will be mistaken to assume that the backward countries must inevitably go through the capitalist stage of development” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 41, p. 246).

Lenin enlarged on the idea of the possibility and necessity for a noncapitalist path of development in regard to the Mongolian People’s Republic, for example (ibid., vol. 44, p. 233).

The theses of the Sixth Congress of the Comintern (1928) pointed out that the crisis of the world capitalist system and the formation of the USSR ensured “the existence of the objective possibility for a noncapitalist path of development for the backward colonies . . . supported by the victorious proletarian dictatorship in other countries” (Strategiia i taktika Kominterna v natsional’no-kolonial’noi revoliutsii na primere Kitaia, Moscow, 1934, p. 59).

Under particular historical conditions, a number of countries and peoples have bypassed certain socioeconomic formations in their development, including slavery or developed feudalism. There is a far greater possibility of avoiding the capitalist path now, because a new, more advanced, worldwide social system—socialism—exists and is growing stronger.

The period of noncapitalist development is not a socioeconomic formation and cannot be regarded as a “third path” distinct from the capitalist and socialist paths of development. The noncapitalist path is part of the worldwide process of mankind’s transition to socialism. However, it is a transition not from mature capitalism but primarily from a backward society, in which precapitalist or early capitalist relations prevail.

The noncapitalist period of development is marked by radical transformations of all aspects of social life undertaken from a socialist perspective under the leadership of a national front (or a front-type party) of progressive, revolutionary democratic forces, standing for a platform of consistent anti-imperialist struggle in alliance with the world socialist commonwealth. The noncapitalist path cannot be followed spontaneously without class struggle. Its success is guaranteed by the influence of the world socialist system and by the activity of the working class, the toiling masses, and all progressive and democratic forces in the countries that have chosen the noncapitalist path of development.

After the Great October Socialist Revolution the idea of the noncapitalist path of development found definite expression in the transition to socialism under the new socialist state of the backward peoples of the Russian Empire (the peoples of Middle Asia, Kazakhstan, the Northern Caucasus, and the European and Asiatic North). In 1972 the. industrial output of the Soviet Union as a whole was 321 times greater than in 1922; that of the Kirghiz SSR was 412 times greater; of the Kazakh SSR, 601 times greater; and of the Tadzhik SSR, 513 times greater. The rapid progress of the once backward, outlying regions of the Russian Empire became possible under Soviet power because of the assistance rendered by the victorious proletariat of the developed regions of the country. As a result of the noncapitalist development of the previously backward peoples of Russia, all the peoples of the USSR had the opportunity to attain the victory of socialism almost at the same time and to move on to the path of communist construction.

The experience of the Mongolian People’s Republic is most instructive. The successes achieved by the Mongolian people are the product of the solution of the problems of the noncapitalist path and the subsequent establishment of a people’s democracy. Their leap from medieval feudalism to socialist society is a graphic example of the practical realization of the Leninist thesis of the noncapitalist path of development for backward countries.

The historical experience of the once backward peoples of the Russian borderlands and of the Mongolian People’s Republic as they progressed toward socialism has great international significance. It shows that by taking the noncapitalist path of development, economically underdeveloped countries can solve their economic, social, and political problems, overcome the burdensome heritage of colonialism, and grow into economically developed, independent states.

In addition to proving its economic advantages, the noncapitalist path has laid the foundation for solving social and national problems, carrying out the cultural revolution, and ultimately, industrializing the country and establishing a cooperative system in agriculture. Consequently, the experience of noncapitalist development in a number of Soviet republics and in the Mongolian People’s Republic has influenced and will continue to influence the destinies of the liberated countries, which are choosing their path of development through the class struggle. “Under the impact of the revolutionary conditions of our age unique forms of progressive social development have emerged among the liberated countries, and the role of the revolutionary democratic forces has grown in importance. Some young states have taken the noncapitalist path, which gives them the chance to overcome the backwardness inherited from the colonial past and to create the conditions for the transition to socialist development” (Mezh-dunarodnoe soveshchanie Kommunisticheskikh i rabochikh partii: Dokumenty i materialy, Moscow, 1969, pp. 312–13).

Countries that have proclaimed programs of noncapitalist development include the Democratic People’s Republic of Algeria, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Republic of Guinea, the Republic of Iraq, the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, the People’s Republic of the Congo, the United Republic of Tanzania, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Somali Democratic Republic, and the Union of Burma. In these countries the political domination of foreign monopolies has been eliminated, and their economic domination is being undermined. Cooperation with the socialist states is expanding. The private sector is regulated and restricted, state and cooperative sectors of the economy have been established, and the conditions for their favorable development have been created. A struggle against the ideology of the exploiters is under way in the countries that have chosen the noncapitalist path. Other general democratic transformations have been introduced, laying the economic and social foundation for the transition to socialist construction and for improving the life of the people.

The decisive condition for taking the noncapitalist path and carrying out the transformations associated with it is the destruction of the monopoly on political power held by the local bourgeoisie or bourgeois-feudal elements and the transfer of power to the revolutionary democratic forces, who act in the interests of the working masses and gradually come under their control.

Development along the noncapitalist path entails a sharp struggle with reactionary forces. For a long time there is a danger of socioeconomic regression and even of a return to the capitalist path of development. There are many reasons for this, including the close ties between the liberated countries and the capitalist world market; the predominance in the economies of the newly independent countries of peasant and handicraft production, which tends to give rise to capitalism; and the influence of the bureaucratic and commercial bourgeoisie and the former landlords and capitalists, who are linked with imperialism and domestic reaction. As a result, the countries oriented toward socialism have an unstable political structure.

Whether the noncapitalist path prevails or the countries return to the capitalist path will be decided, in the final analysis, by the class struggle, as well as by the balance of political forces both within and outside the liberated countries. However, isolated defeats suffered by the progressive forces cannot diminish the importance of the fact that the foundation for a basically new direction of development for the liberated countries has been laid. The more successful the economic and cultural development of the national democratic countries and the more fully the advantages of the noncapitalist path are revealed, the more persuasive the example of these countries will be.


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