The Stalinist regime was anti-social. Under Brezhnev and Khrushchev, the USSR regime retains its exploitative character, but turns into something moderately bloody (repression is weakening by several orders of magnitude) and relatively social.
A friend, Ayna Spirit, wrote a curious thing : “The presence in the USSR of” social elevators “and the fact of the existence of a simple assistant to the combine operator Misha Gorbachev, who became General Secretary … That is so, but have you heard about the prevalence of such a phenomenon as” an elevator working in the opposite direction. ” …. For me personally, it’s all the same about whether to call the Soviet state class or classless (Trotsky did not call it class) ” …
This is a completely adequate criticism of the USSR (before the beginning of the discussion about class and classlessness *), but this is only a small part of the problem. In Maoist China, masses of officials were systematically sent to the countryside for re-education. Yes, not all and hardly the majority, but it was so, it is possible at times. In the USSR, under Stalin, tens of thousands of party officials were thrown into camps, turned into slaves.
The central problem, however, is that the party-state apparatus owned factories-factories-newspapers-steamers, controlled the work of about 100 million workers and specialists, appropriating its results. His decisions were law for the country, those who resisted them were destroyed or sent to camps. The apparatus was guided by its own principles, officials were appointed by the country’s leadership, there were no elections.
The fact that the top of the Bolshevik state apparatus lived at the level of Western millionaires is also part of the problem.
“In the life of Stalin and other members of the Politburo, two epochs were bizarrely combined – the formal absence of personal property, preserved from the first years of the revolution, and the unlimited, uncontrolled use of material wealth, often inaccessible even to Western millionaires, ” wrote the historian Vadim Rogovin.
Soviet economist of Hungarian origin, Academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences (1939), Lenin Prize Laureate (1963), E. Varga, wrote: that to ensure such a standard of living in America you have to be a multimillionaire! Only the payment of the smallest 100 people of personal service would cost about 30-40 thousand dollars a month. Together with other expenses, this would amount to more than half a million dollars a year! “…
From the book of I. Stalin’s daughter: “At A. I. Mikoyan’s dacha, everything has been preserved to this day in the form in which the emigrated owners abandoned the house. On the veranda there is a marble dog, the owner’s favorite; in the house there are marble statues taken to their time from Italy; on the walls – old French tapestries; in the windows of the lower rooms – multicolored stained-glass windows. Park, garden, tennis court, greenhouse, greenhouses, stables – everything remained as it was. And it was always so pleasant for me when I got into this dear house of good old friends, enter the old dining room, where the same carved sideboard and the same old-fashioned chandelier, and the same clock on the fireplace.For ten grandchildren of Anastas Ivanovich running along the same lawns near the house and then having dinner at the same table under the trees where his five sons grew up, where his mother, who was friends with the late mistress of this house, also visited. ” (Svetlana Alliluyeva, “Twenty Letters to a Friend”).
This luxurious mansion belonged to K. Voroshilov, another associate of Stalin. Before Voroshilov, a family of German capitalist millionaires lived there. And this beautiful house in Moscow was first given for the construction of communal apartments (16 families lived there) … until 1948, when the mansion liked V.S.Abakumov, the Minister of State Security of the USSR.
But even if the party leaders lived much more modestly, this would not change anything in essence – after all, there are multimillionaires today who lead a relatively modest lifestyle. Fundamentally, this bureaucratic apparatus was the owner and supreme manager of industry, the financial system and everything else. He directed the benefits created by social labor to the goals chosen by him (the apparatus). In the same way, the American capitalist spends only a small part of his income on personal consumption, while the rest he invests in industry, science, gives to the state in the form of taxes, etc. From this, exploitation (appropriation of the results of someone else’s labor) does not disappear anywhere.
Another important indicator of the social and class situation in the USSR is the income gap. In the USSR and the PRC, millions were dying of hunger (in the USSR there were 3 Holodomors in 1921, 1932-1933 and 1946-1947), and tens of millions starved against the background of a well-equipped apparatus, not to mention its super-rich elite – about Stalin’s entourage.
And finally, labor in Bolshevik Russia and the USSR for 19 out of 70 years was serf (in 1919-1921 and 1940-1956). In other words, people were attached to their businesses and had no right to change jobs of their own accord. Here is a curious decree from 1940 . And here is another decree that equated the production of low-quality products with sabotage (terms from 5 to 8 years). then I don’t even know …
Of course, all the power structures of the USSR – the army, special services, police – served to protect the interests of the ruling class, that is, they carried out its orders, ensuring the functioning of the system.
Against this background, the problem of social elevators is negligible. After all, in a modern capitalist country with an economy that works well by the standards of this system, these elevators go up and down, hundreds of thousands of people (out of tens of millions) may well build a good business, starting with very modest income, and after a few years – go broke.
A few more touches to the portrait of the USSR. According to the latest research by the group of the world famous economist, chief economist of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (2015-2019), professor of economics at the Paris School of Political Science, Sergei Guriev, Bolshevik modernization did not surpass the ineffective tsarist modernization trend. He and his colleagues analyze the situation prior to 1940. In terms of GDP growth, the result was slightly better than during the tsarist trend, in terms of labor productivity – worse (a brief retelling here ).
We add that under tsarism, people did not die of hunger millions of times in 10-15 years, as under Lenin-Stalin. The last tsarist famine was in 1891; then from 200 to 600 thousand died, after which there were no mass hunger strikes under tsarism for 25 years, until the very end.
But what about the welfare state in the USSR? This is the Brezhnev-Khrushchevs. And this coincides in time with the introduction of the welfare state in the West. At that time, pensions were being introduced in the USSR (under Stalin it was bad with them and many old people were forced to work with their last strength to live), housing was being built on a large scale, where millions received separate apartments (under Stalin, many huddled in communal apartments). Free education is the legacy of Khrushchev, on the contrary, the Stalinist regime introduced fees for education in high school and universities. Khrushchev canceled it: on June 6, 1956, the Council of Ministers of the USSR issued a decree “On the abolition of tuition fees in the upper grades of secondary schools, in secondary specialized and higher educational institutions of the USSR.”
The Stalinist regime was anti-social. Under Brezhnev and Khrushchev, the USSR regime retains its exploitative character, but turns into something moderately bloody (repression is weakening by several orders of magnitude) and relatively social. The terrible Leninist-Stalinist era remains in the past.
* Social classes are large groups of people that differ in their place in the system of social production, in their relation to the means of production, in their role in the social organization of labor, in their methods of obtaining and the size of the share of social wealth that they have.