Total Social Product
Total Social Product
(also Aggregate Social Product), the entirety of material goods—means of production and articles of consumption—created in all branches of material production over a given period of time, usually a year.
The total social product mirrors the complex production and economic relationships that arise during the process of material production and the development of the social division of labor. Within every social formation, it possesses a distinct socioeconomic essence. Under capitalism, the total social product is owned by the capitalists, and it is produced at the expense of increased exploitation of hired labor and is distributed so as to enrich the possessors of capital. Under socialism, it is public property, owned by the entire people and by cooperatives and kolkhozes; a portion of the total social product is generated on personal subsidiary plots by kolkhoz members, production workers, and office workers as their personal property. Under socialism, the total social product is given over entirely to the purposes of fuller satisfaction of the rapidly growing needs of society and all-round development of the working people. The total social product in 1974 was 52.5 times greater than in 1913, 10.4 times greater than in 1940, and 1.8 times greater than in 1965.
The total social product is created in the many interacting branches of material production, which are linked one to another by the growing social division of labor. Under capitalism, these links and the evolution of these links constitute a spontaneously functioning mechanism of reproduction. In socialist society, they are consciously planned and regulated.
The total social product is measured in terms of both physical volume and value. For purposes of measurement, the physical volume of the total social product is practically the same as annual production expressed in fixed prices, an approach that makes it possible to discern the dynamics of the total social product. As a practical matter, this is done in current prices, an approach that indicates the structure of, and changes in, the total social product.
The total social product takes two forms: the gross social product and the final social product. The gross social product consists of all goods that have been created by the primary links in the social division of labor—that is, by enterprises and production associations—and that have come into economic circulation and gone to production and nonproduction uses. This sum of goods comprehends what is known as double counting; that is, goods and materials produced by some enterprises are subsequently used by other enterprises and included in the value of their output. Double counting increases as the social division of labor grows more pronounced, and it indicates the changes that have taken place in the structure of social production. The gross social product adjusted so as to eliminate double counting is the final social product, which gives a more complete picture of the dynamics of social production.
The socialist system ensures high growth rates for the total social product. Between 1951 and 1974 the USSR had an average annual industrial growth rate of 9.7 percent, and the USA, 4.4 percent. In agriculture, the USSR had an average annual growth rate of 3.8 percent, and the USA, 1.9 percent.
In terms of value, the total social product consists of the transferred value, or depreciation of the instruments of labor and expenditure of the objects of labor, and the newly created value, or national income of society. The transferred value accounts for the means of production expended in the process of production; the newly created value includes the value of the necessary and surplus product and is given over to the needs of accumulation and consumption. In capitalist society, there is an antagonism between the necessary and surplus portions of newly created value, an antagonism that expresses the relations of capital’s exploitation of hired labor. Under socialism, there is no such antagonism, and the necessary and surplus portions of newly created value are employed for the benefit of all working people. The structure of the total social product in terms of value is changing under the impact of, among other factors, scientific and technological progress.
In terms of economic purpose, the total social product is divided into means of production and articles of consumption—a division that also mirrors certain aspects of the production relations of society. Under capitalism, the means of production are appropriated by the class of capitalists and are used for increased exploitation of hired labor. The articles of consumption also emerge from production as the property of the capitalists; the working people exchange their labor for the articles of consumption within the limits of the value of their labor power and the need of capital to reproduce hired labor power. In socialist society, both portions of the total social product are owned by the public. The means of production are continuously returned to the process of production, and ownership by the state and by collectives and cooperatives is augmented. The articles of consumption are given over to personal and collective consumption by the working people of the cities and countryside and are used to increase the general prosperity. In social reproduction, a definite relationship between the two portions of the total social product takes shape. With progress in technology, production of the means of production should grow more rapidly than production of the articles of consumption.
In the USSR, production of the means of production and production of the articles of consumption are growing rapidly. The two rates of growth are converging, a fact that reflects the turn in the structure of social production toward fuller satisfaction of the needs of the working people and toward higher standards of living. In social production as a whole, production of the means of production is still growing more rapidly, since the means of production are essential to the technological modernization of the national economy, to increases in the production of the articles of consumption and improvement in the standard of living, and to strengthening the country’s defense. The most progressive branches of heavy industry—those that determine technological progress throughout the socialist national economy as a whole—are growing at especially rapid rates.
The theory of the total social product was first propounded by K. Marx and given comprehensive elaboration by V. I. Lenin. As a category of economic thought, the total social product holds a significant place in the theory of socialist reproduction, forming the starting point for the study of the dynamics, structure, and proportions of social production.
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A. G. KORIAGIN