Materials Relating to the Revision of the Party Programme

Comments on the Remarks Made by the Committee of the April All-Russia Conference

With regard to the remarks on the preamble to the programme, I must say the following.

In my opinion, there is no need for a revision of the entire preamble. The plan for such a revision proposed by the committee seems to me theoretically incorrect.

As now worded, the preamble contains a description and analysis of the main and essential features of capitalism as a social and economic system. Fundamentally, these features have not been changed by imperialism, by the era of finance capital. Imperialism is a continuation of the development of capitalism, its highest stage—in a sense, a transition stage to socialism.

I cannot therefore see how the addition of an analysis of imperialism to the general analysis of the basic features of capitalism can be regarded as “mechanical”. Imperialism, in fact, does not and cannot transform capitalism from top to bottom. Imperialism complicates and sharpens the contradictions of capitalism, it “ties up” monopoly with free competition, but it cannot do away with exchange, the market, competition, crises, etc.

Imperialism is moribund capitalism, capitalism which is dying but not dead. The essential feature of imperialism, by and large, is not monopolies pure and simple, but monopolies in conjunction with exchange, markets, competition, crises.

It is therefore theoretically wrong to delete an analysis of exchange, commodity production, crises, etc., in general and to “replace” it by an analysis of imperialism as a whole.

There is no such whole. There is a transition from competition to monopoly, and therefore the programme would be much more correct, and much more true to reality, if it retained the general analysis of exchange, commodity production, crises, etc., and had a characterisation of the growing monopolies added to it. In fact it is this combination of antagonistic principles, viz., competition and monopoly, that is the essence of imperialism, it is this that is making for the final crash, i.e., the socialist revolution.

Furthermore, in the case of Russia it would be wrong to present imperialism as a coherent whole (imperialism in general is an incoherent whole), since in Russia there are no few fields and branches of labour that are still in a state of transition from natural or semi-natural economy to capitalism. Backward and poor though they are, they nevertheless exist, and given the conditions, may introduce an element of delay in the collapse of capitalism.

The programme proceeds—as it should proceed—from the simplest phenomena of capitalism to the more complex and “higher” ones, from exchange to commodity production, to the ousting of small industries by the large ones, to crises and so forth, ending up in imperialism, that highest stage of capitalism, which is only now being reached in the advanced countries. That is how matters stand in actual reality. To begin by placing “exchange” in general in juxtaposition with the export of capital is incorrect historically and theoretically.

These are the comments I have to make on the remarks of the committee.