Marxian monetary theory and the NEP

Guillaume Fondu


In his paper « Marxian Economics and Modern Economic Theory », Lange maintains that Marxism can only offer a theory of capitalist development and that Marxist economics are unable to play any role in economic policy. This statement was written in 1935, a few years after the experiment of the New Economic Policy. Therefore, it implies that the Bolsheviks implemented and organized the NEP (besides the Revolution, as Gramsci wrote) against Das Kapital and against Marxism. Is there such a gap between Marxian theses and effective Bolshevik conceptions and practices? We'll try to address this issue through a study of some Soviet texts about money and monetary politics, focusing especially on Sokolnikov's monetary reform (1922-1924). We know that money is a problematic point in Das Kapital and that there are a number of various interpretations of its Marxist meaning and nature. The Soviet experiment is thus even more interesting since Soviet theoreticians had already developed – schematically – the principal interpretations and discussed them. From Bogdanov, and his conception of money as a pernicious veil that needs to be replaced by technical accounts, to Rubin, who insists on the logical link between value and money, many authors tried to elaborate a Marxist monetary theory, from their reading of Marx but also from material problematic facts which the young USSR was facing. While trying to bring to light the link between those diverse interpretations and monetary policy, we want to underline the various interpretations of what a Marxist economic policy could mean, and to show how those debates provide us with a better understanding of some Marxian ambiguities and the different ways to settle them.

Money - NEP - the Soviet Marxism - Soviet Union - monetary policy