Uneven Development, the Russian Question and Marxian Paradigm
THERE was a lack of uniformity in the development of capitalism on the global scale in Marx's time (of course, even today it is the same). TTiere was developed capitalism of Western Europe, colonial capitalism in many parts of the world and finally an emerging capitalism in free but backward economics. In this concrete historical situation, the problem of uneven and 'asynchronic' development and the possibility of its resolution through a non-capitalist path of transformation attracted serious attention of Marx in his later years.
As is well known, an attempt by Marx and Engels to seriously study the Russian situation of their time, especially in the 1870s and the early 1880s and identify its revolutionary potential, made them aware of the possibility of evolving a new paradigm of transition to a non-capitalist mode as the solution to the problem of existing and potential unevenness in the development of 'backward' capitalism. It was not the problem of economic development in itself of a country backward or developed, of evenness or unevenness in its process that were of crucial importance at this stage but rather the possibility of its supersession by a non-capitalist mode. The purpose of this paper is to trace the course of the rethinking in Marx's mind about the possibility of bypassing capitalism in backward economies.
Marx was quite emphatic in his assertion that 'backward* capitalism and consequent asynchronic' development had brought and was likely to bring more misery to the overwhelming majority of these countries than that witnessed in the 'triumphant' march of capitalism in England and France, more so in the former in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It was his concern for the 'real' man as opposed to that of the 'abstract^ and 'ideal' non-existent man of the realm of 'vulgar' political economy that prompted Marx to discern one aspect of capitalist reality from a new angle. In his demarche for identifying a new path for the emancipation of "real men", both the ideas of the radical milieu of Russia and its revolutionary potential exerted a profound influence on him. The crucial
Professor of Economics, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune.