Tax in Kind, The

Tax in Kind, The


The article was published during the country’s historic changeover from the policy of War Communism to the NEP. This transition began with a change in food policy, replacing surplus-grain appropriation with the tax in kind. The tax stimulated the development of agriculture and commodity exchange, leading to a revival in agriculture, small-scale industry, and ultimately, large-scale industry. Granting the peasants the opportunity to freely sell their surplus goods (over and above that taken in the form of the tax) resulted in a certain revitalization of capitalism. This gave rise to disputes and aroused apprehensions concerning the possibility of a return to capitalism. In “The Tax in Kind,” Lenin answered these fears. He showed that, given the existence of the proletarian dictatorship, free trade was not dangerous, since the political power and basic means of production were in the hands of the workers. The task of Soviet power was to channel the development of capitalism into state capitalism, which would facilitate accounting and control of production and distribution and serve as an instrument for overcoming the petit bourgeois element.

Lenin defined state capitalism as the “intermediate rung” on the ladder of history between small-scale production and socialism. In Lenin’s view the following were forms of state capitalism: concessions, cooperatives, state-controlled merchants (capitalists who agreed to deal in state goods in return for a definite commission), and the renting of state plants, lands, or other business enterprises to capitalist entrepreneurs (the rental agreement was necessarily similar to a concession agreement). Lenin viewed all four types of state capitalism as means of facilitating the transition from small-scale production to large-scale socialist production and as ways of expanding the productive forces and increasing labor productivity. He attributed great significance to cooperatives, which, by encompassing millions of small-scale commodity producers (kapitalistiki), would channel those producers into an organized, state-controlled enterprise, since cooperatives facilitated control and contractual relations between the state and the capitalists (seeCOOPERATIVE PLAN OF V.I. LENIN).

Speculation, inevitable under free trade, required an intensified struggle against bureaucracy, embezzlement, and evasion of state supervision, inventory, and control. In order to strengthen the link between socialist industry and the peasant economy, Lenin proposed that the initiative and independent activity of the masses be extensively developed, that personnel be skillfully deployed and workers be promoted to positions in economic management, and that the practical experience of merchants, capitalists, and bourgeois specialists be studied and utilized in order to boost agriculture and industry.

“The Tax in Kind” was a major contribution to the development of Marxism and was of international importance. It analyzes the regulatory laws of the transitional period from capitalism to socialism and defines the tasks of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the realm of economic policy. For countries with predominantly peasant populations, the paths, means, instruments, and methods indicated by Lenin for making the transition from capitalism to socialism are still relevant.


Pomitiaev, F. F. Istoricheskoe znachenie raboty V. I. Lenina “O prodo-vol’stvennom naloge.” Moscow, 1956.
Genkina, E. B. Gosudarstvennaia deiatel’nost’ V. I. Lenina 1921–1923. Moscow, 1969. Pages 119–26.
Fain, L. E. Istoriia razrabotki V. I. Leninym kooperativnogo plana. Moscow, 1970.