Ground Rent and Socialism: Experience of the USSR and East European Socialist Economies
The purpose of this paper is to examine the issue of rent relations in socialist economies with particular reference to the Soviet JJnion and East European countries. Over a long period of lime, starting with the great economic debate of the 1920s, the question of ground rent has attracted the attention of economists, planners and intellectuals, initially of the Soviet Union and later of the other European socialist countries as well.
In these discussions, the framework for an understanding of rent relations was provided by the Marxian theory of ground rent elaborated in Vol. Ill of Capital and in The Theories of Surplus Value. Like a number of other theories of Marx, for example, value theory and production price theory, the theory of ground rent, based on capitalist property relations in land and originally aimed at analysing the dynamics of capitalist development, was sought to be utilized fo^* furthering the process of planned development by identifying supra-institutional components in the theory which were admissible under socialism.
In what follows, the debate centering around the validity of rent relations in socialism has been presented in its historical context, with emphasis on the arguments that were put forth by important economists like Strumilin, Markov, Pashkov, Nemchinov, Fedorenko and others. Further, the present statCxof the debate is delineated and the practical problems associated with rent relations under socialism have been identified.
THREE PHASES OF THE SOVIET DEBATE
In 1918 itself, the validity of the theory of ground rent under socialism emerged as an important issue, leading up to three rounds of discussion. In the first round, which took place between 1924 and 1926, the main emphasis was on whether differential rent existed under socialism or not. One of the issues at this stage was that of determining the path and nature of emergence of ground rent in agricultural production if it
Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune.