Lenin as Economist of Production: A Ricardian Step Backwards

Science and Society 67 (3):276 - 302 (2003)
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Lenin presents his economics as the embodiment of Marxist theory. Yet, his economic writings contain considerable shortcomings; indeed, the pattern of these shortcomings suggests that Lenin was an economist of production, in the sense used by Marx in describing Ricardo. Ricardo's conception, according to Marx, is "in the interests of the industrial bourgeoisie, only because, and in so far as, their interests coincide with that of production or the productive development of human labor." Lenin, when exhibiting a similar conception, is taking a step backwards. He fails to address coercion in market expansion, utilizing instead a classical conception and in the process ignoring the Russian commune. Lenin's criticism of Ricardo is limited, and contrasts with his biting attack against Sismondi for misunderstanding accumulation in capitalist society. Lenin also distorts Marx in emphasizing disproportionalities in production in his crisis theory. Finally, Lenin's interpretation of "accumulation of capital" mistakenly refers to increasing production.



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