ACCORDING to the economic theory of Communism, as we have already had occasion to see, labor plays the most important part in the determination of the productive forces of a country. And there is no doubt that labor is by far the most outstanding element in the economic situation in Russia under the Soviet régime. We shall consider the question of labor in this chapter as the first and the most fundamental of the human elements in the situation which the Soviet economic régime has to face.
The labor question in Soviet Russia is characterized by four important features: first, the shortage of labor; second, the loss of labor discipline; third, the falling-off of productivity and the consequent contraction of production; and fourth, the measures taken or contemplated by the Soviet Government for the overcoming of these three difficulties.
In his report on the militarization of labor, presented to the Ninth Congress of the Russian Communist Party, Trotsky stated that at the beginning of 1920 there were in all the important branches of industry in