History of Market Socialism
Published by Irish Communist Organisation 1971
In his Cursus Der National - Und Socialekonomie (1873) Duhring, in opposition to the "collectivism" or communism of Marx, proposed a scheme for a system of "economic communes". The socalist movement should be based on these communes. In Anti - Duhring Engels subjected the scheme to close analysis.
The whole of the analysis is exceptionally relevant to the question of market socialism. Here we only take up the essential point: the basis on which products are distributed- which is : "Labour ..is here offered against other labour on the basis of equal valuation"
Engels comments: "The exchange of labour on the principle of equal value" in so far as it has any meaning, that is to say the exchange ability against each other of the products of equal social labour, that is to say the law of value, is essentially the fundamental law of commodity production, hence also of its highest form .. capitalist production.
By elevating this law to the basic law of his economic commune and demanding that the commune should apply it with full consciousness, Herr Duhring makes the basic law of existing society into the basic law of its imaginary society.
He wants existing society without its abuses. Like Proudhon he wants he wants to abolish the abuses that have arisen out of the evolution of commodity production into captalist production, by applying to them the same basic law of commodity production, precisely to the effects of which these abuses are due. Like Proudhon Herr Duhring wants to abolish the real consequences of the law of value by means of imaginary ones " page 343
The modern revsionists repeat Duhring's position, using even the same words. Duhring wanted to apply the law of value with full consciousness. The modern revisionists do not say this must be done but are actually doing it.
Lenin and Stalin accounted for the continuance of commodity production in the Soviet Economy by the necessities imposed by the buiding of socialism in a backward ruined economy, not by any "commodity socialism" deceptions.
Stalin wrote in Economic Problems of Socialism " criticising Duhring's economic commune, which functions in the conditions of commodity circulation. "
Engels in his anti Duhring convincingly shows that the existence of commodity circulation was inevitably bound to lead to the regeneration of capitalism. Comrades Sanina and Venzher evidently do not agree with this. All the worse for them.
But we Marxists adhere to the Marxist view that the transition from socialism to communism and the communist principle of distribution of products according to need precludes all commodity exchange, and hence precludes the conversion of products into commodities, and with it their conversion in value" ( page 39)