Preobrazhensky, Evgeny Alexeyevich


Preobrazhensky, Evgeny Alexeyevich
(1886–1937)
   Preobrazhensky was a significant figure in the Bolshevik party and in the newly formed Soviet state. He also made an important and lasting contribution to Marxist economic theory. Born in Russia Preobrazhensky joined the Russian Social Democratic Party (RSDP) in 1903, and in 1920 he was made a party secretary and member of the Central Committee. He was committed to industrialization and democratization of the Soviet Union and to international revolution.
   He opposed Josef Stalin’s bureaucratization and centralization of the party and advocacy of “Socialism in One Country.” This led him to become a leader of the Left Opposition and to become linked to Leon Trotsky in the 1920s, a position that resulted in Stalin engineering his expulsion from the party. When Stalin embraced rapid industrialization as a key aim Preobrazhensky moved away from Trotsky and the Left Opposition and was allowed back into the party. However, Stalin did not forget his previous opposition and he was arrested in 1935 and shot in 1937 under Stalin’s orders.
   Preobrazhensky’s main innovation in Marxist economic theory was his law of “primitive socialist accumulation.” This was part of his theory of how to achieve the transition from capitalism to socialism, and in particular how to achieve the necessary industrialization in a backward agricultural economy such as Russia’s. Without foreign investment or the possibility of self-development, industry had to be generated by squeezing agriculture, according to Preobrazhensky. He advocated establishing state trading monopolies to buy agricultural goods directly from peasant farmers at low prices instead of using the market. Industrial goods would be sold at high prices back to the agricultural sector, and this unequal exchange would make possible the financing of the expansion of industrial capacity. It would also have the advantage of reducing profits of rich peasants and preventing the development of capitalism in the countryside.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.

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