ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Chayanov, Kautsky, Lenin Considerations towards a Synthesis

There is an asymmetry in Margin's attitude. He accepts without questioning the neo-classical doctrine on the accounting price of labour; but in the matter of the so-called social price of capital, he prefers to lean on the consumption- investment nexus. Scarcely any thought is spared for solving the puzzle that while living labour is treated as dirt, dead labour is supposed to be worth its weight in diamonds; the SPECIAL ARTICLE MARXISTS have rarely accorded Chayanov's work a sympathetic treatment. To start with, there is his popular reputation, shaped by the attacks launched on him and many others when Stalin broke his alliance with the Buk- harinists and turned to the policy of forced collectivisation. According to this, Chayanov was the theoretical fountainhead of a revived Narodnism, a eulogist of the petit-bourgeois producer, who sought to provide a scientific facade for the viability of small-scale production units in agriculture. There is, secondly, the widespread notion that Chayanov's theory of a 'specific peasant economy was proposed, more or less consciously, as an alternative to classical Marxist positions on the peasantry argued in his own genera- social genesis of dead labour is conveniently left unmentioned. If, while living labour is surplus, capital or dead labour is scarce, it is not necessarily because capital per se is in short supply, but because it has not been made available: it has been monopolised, and labour has been denied the opportunity of gainful association with specific resources which are the result of its own past labour. This is true as tion by Lenin and several other Marxists. The popular prejudice can easily be exposed as a mixture of crude simplification and propagandist fantasy, a product of the Stalin school of falsification. The notion that Chayanov sought to present an alternative to Marxist conceptions of the peasantry is less easy to dispose of. It is, however, in essence, a conception no less erroneous than the other.

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