Raya Dunayevskaya

An Analysis of Russian Economy

From The New International, Vol. IX No. 2, February 1943, pp. 52–57.

(Editor’s Note: The following is the final installment in the series of articles on Soviet economy. They are the product of an extended study of this subject by the writer. The New International takes no responsibility for the articles, presenting them as discussion material on the subject of the Russian economy.)

D – Social Classes in Russia

Our study of the Russian economy would be barren of any social significance were we not to examine the production relations characteristic of the mode of production. Stalin said that there were no classes in the Soviet Union “in the old sense of the word.” Let us see. Social classes are defined by the r61e they play in the process of production. What places do the “classless” groups known as the proletariat and the intelligentsia occupy in the economic system that still retains the name of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics? Who runs the economy? Whose life-blood cements and expands it? Who benefits from it? In order of their origin, let us analyze the evolution of the “social groups” during the Five Year Plans.

I – The Proletariat

1 – The Worker and the Law

Throughout the life of the First and Second Five Year Plans labor fluidity was great. The trial of the “Trotskyist-Bukharinist fascist wreckers” only served to heighten the workers’ restlessness and not merely the fluidity of labor (labor turnover) but the actual flight of labor away from the city assumed disastrous proportions. To try to check this development a decree of December 28, 1938, introduced labor passports. This decree had no teeth in it because the worker was not the least intimidated by the threat of being fired for a day’s absence. Since he could always get another job but could not quit his job without giving a month’s notice, the worker very often took advantage of the fact that coming late twenty minutes made him a truant and caused his dismissal. On June 26, 1940, “as a consequence of the current international situation,” the 1938 decree was greatly “elaborated.” It forbade the worker to leave his job. Truancy and other infractions of the law were punishable by six months’ “corrective labor” – labor in the factory, that is, with a 25 per cent reduction in pay. Furthermore, the workers’ hours were increased from seven to eight, with a proportionate increase in the “norms” of work but no increase whatever in pay. Toward the end of that year, on October 2, 1940, the State Labor Reserves were created, which, as we saw, gave the worker free training of from six months to two years and made it obligatory for him to work for the state for four years “at the prevailing rate of wages.” But even these Draconian anti-labor laws did not succeed in making of the Russian wage slave a slave of old, an integral part of the means of production. The Russian worker found all manner and means to circumvent the legislation.

Reviewing six months of operation of the law of June 26, 1940, the Pravda of December 26, 1940, had to report that in many enterprises, especially coal mines, truancies were greater in October than in the months prior to the enactment of the barbarous anti-truancy laws. The reports to the eighteenth conference of the RCP in February 1941 complained of the fact that the workers still absented themselves “particularly after pay day.” And on April 16, 1941, two short months before the invasion by Germany, Shvernik, head of the so-called trade unions, reported to the eleventh plenum of the Central Executive Committee of the Trade Unions that 22–32 per cent of the workers still do not accomplish their minimum “norms”; that, furthermore, workers of the same category get different wages in different factories, sometimes even in the same factory, and, worst of all “evils,” some factories continue to pay on the basic of experience rather than on the basis of the piece-work system.

However, the fact that the Russian worker has been able in great measure to circumvent anti-labor legislation does not mean that he is the proletarian of the high morale of the days of his own dictatorship. It is sufficient to counterpose the hero of those days to the “hero” of today to bring out the change in morale in striking relief. Simply contrast to the Subbotnik, who gave his Saturday services without pay to his state, the Stakhanovite, whose pay envelope is twenty times that of the rank and file worker! The Subbotnik neither complained nor boasted of his economic conditions – they were bad but the movement of the economy which he ruled over was such that he gained by the progress of the state. When, by 1928, production had gained its pre-war level, the workers’ wages were 125 per cent of that level. The Stakhanovite boasts of his pay envelope and complains to the state of the disrespectful attitude toward him on the part of the “ignorant” (read: rank and file) workers who “preen themselves of their proletarian origin.”

When the First Five Year Plan was launched the enthusiasm of the workers for the Plan was so high that during the first year all norms set by the Plan were over-fulfilled. The bureaucracy saw the blue in heaven and raised the slogan: The Five Year Plan in Four. But then the trade unions and shop committees were still functioning and collective labor agreements were in force both in state institutions and at those private concessionaires that still existed, such as the Lena Gold Fields. Rulings made by the Workers Conflict Commissions generally favored the workers in their fight with the management. On January 5, 1929, for example, Economic Life, the organ of the Council of Labor and Defense, emphasized that piece work rates are subject to the approval of the Workers Conflict Commission but that the responsibility for fulfilling the financial program rests exclusively with the management. That issue of the publication reports also that it is an ordinary occurrence for a worker dismissed by the management to be reinstated by the labor inspector.

When the worker, however, found that agricultural prices had soared so high that his salary could not even cover the purchase of sufficient food, his enthusiasm subsided and production lagged far behind the Plans. Immediately the state struck out against him. On January 24, 1929, a decree was promulgated making workers responsible for damaged goods. In 1930 it became obligatory for a factory director to insert into the worker’s paybook the reasons for his dismissal. That same year the labor exchanges were instructed to put the workers who left their jobs on their own initiative on a “special list” (read: blacklist) and deprive them of unemployment compensation.

Of food there was such scarcity that rationing had to be introduced in 1930. For the manual worker the rations were: twelve pounds and five ounces of black bread a week, and the following items, in quantities, per month: two and a half pounds ten ounces of herring, thirteen ounces of sugar and two and a half ounces of tea. Soon tea disappeared from the meager diet and we read of the workers having a kipyatok, which is plain boiled water, without either sugar or tea. Meanwhile, unemployment had been declared officially to be nonexistent and unemployment insurance was actually abolished. The worker’s ration card was transferred into the hands of the factory directors.

The workers became restless. The rate of labor turnover in 1930 was 152 per cent. But the slogan of “The Five Year Plan in Four” was not changed. The controlled press voiced criticism of the trade unions and blamed them for not seeing to it that the workers fulfilled their “norms.” In 1932 it was decreed that the worker could be fired for a single day’s absence without permission. Moreover, the factory director thereupon could deprive him not only of his food card but also of the right to occupy the premises owned by the factory, that is, the worker’s living quarters. To stifle the expression of dissatisfaction on the part of the workers, it was decided to deprive the worker of any form of redress through his trade unions by “statification” of the latter. In 1933 the liquidation of the Council of Labor and Defense into the Economic Council was decreed. Thus, while the factory director had control over the worker’s food and lodging, the worker had no trade unions independent of the state to take up his grievances. But it was impossible to decree slavery. So long as industry was expanding and workers were necessary to man the machines, the workers took advantage of that one fact and continued to shift from job to job.

The 1938 law was no harsher than the 1932 law but no more effective. The barbarous 1940 law was likewise found inadequate. Shvernik proposed that, instead of bare decrees, the state use the indirect method to get the most out of labor. Shvernik raised the slogan “To liquidate to the end equalitarianism in pay.” In other words, piece work should be the rule not only in 70 per cent of the enterprises, as heretofore, but be 100 per cent prevalent. “Petty bourgeois equalitarianism” and “depersonalization” must be “liquidated.” The Leader had been wise when, as tar back as 1931, he had said that there should be an end to depersonalization. It was high time to realize that slogan.

What, precisely, does “putting an end to depersonalization” mean?

2 – Ending Depersonalization and Creating Stakhanovism

Although the state, as the owner of all means of production, is the overall employer, every state enterprise must pro-cure its own labor force and there is keen competition between individual enterprises because (1) there is a shortage of experienced labor; (2) productivity is so low that there is a constant need for more labor than theoretically is necessary according to the Plan. For instance, the First Five Year Plan called for an increase of laborers to 15.7 million. Actually, 22.8 million laborers were used even to achieve the un-attained production plans. Living quarters in the city became unbearably overcrowded but the famished peasants continued to flock to the city in millions so that a large reserve army of labor was finally created. In 1933 passports had to be introduced to restrain the peasants’ search of employment in the city. In tune with the times. Industry, the organ of the Commissariat of Heavy Industry, in its issue of March 16, 1933, informs managers who had not fired their “poor” workers because heretofore there had been severe shortage of labor that now they have a “trump card: there are more workers in the shops than is necessary according to plans.” (Emphasis in original) In analyzing the excessive turnover the writer of this front page article has the gall to attribute it to the “enthusiasm” of the Don Basin miners for collectivization, which made them leave their work and “themselves” put through collectivization in the village! “But, why,” he continues, “is there still excessive labor turnover?” One of the reasons he admits to be “In the communal dwellings, which have been built in the past months it is filthy, uncomfortable, boring.” But the biggest cause for labor turnover is the search for better wages. He asks management to stop bidding against management for workers. Neither this appeal nor the anti-labor legislation that was enacted nor the fact that the proletariat was deprived of the use of the trade unions which had become part of the administrative machinery of the state accomplished the trick of straight-jacketing labor. The 1931 slogan, “Let there be an end to depersonalization,” needed a big stick to enforce it. So the state arranged for a “gift from heaven” [1] to be sent them in the form of Stakhanovism.

Here is V. Mezhlauk’s (the then chairman of the Stale Planning Commission) explanation of this “gift from heaven”:

“A plain miner, the Donetz Basin hewer, Alexei Stakhanov, in response to Stalin’s speech of May 4, 1935, the key-note of which was the care of the human being and which marked a new stage in the development of the USSR, proposed a new system of labor organization for the extraction of coal. The very first day his method was applied he cut 102 tons of coal in one shift of six hours instead of the established rate of seven tons.”

So this “gift from heaven” came on August 31, 1935, “in response to Stalin’s speech of May 4.” In the four months that elapsed between the two events a lot was done by the state to set the stage for “the miracle,” so that the press, the photographers, the wires of the world immediately heard of “the gift from heaven.” Contrast the hullabaloo about Stakhanov with the silence as to the hot-house conditions created for Stakhanovites who get the finest tools and spoil them at the fastest pace without the necessity of paying for them as the workers have to pay for damaged goods, and the silence as to the brigade of helpers who do all the detail work but get no Stakhanovite recognition either in fame or in money! These record-breakers for a day do not repeat their records but retire behind swivel chairs while the mass of workers are now told that the “miracle” should really be their regular “norm”!

Armed with Stakhanovism, the state was able to revive the 1931 slogan, for now they had the wherewithal to enforce it. Piece-work was made the prevailing system of work in Russia. In the state of Lenin-Trotsky, where the Subbotnik was the hero, the range of pay was one to three; in the Stalinist state, where the Stakhanovite is the hero, the range of pay is one to twenty!

3 – Ending Rationing and Producing Luxury Goods

Ending depersonalization and creating this extreme differentiation in pay had its corollary in ending rationing and producing luxury goods, for the rise in pay would have meant nothing to the Stakhanovites if they could not put it to use. It is interesting, therefore, to note that whereas production of articles of mass consumption kept little pace with the demand for them, the production of luxury goods leaped almost to the miraculous heights achieved in the production of means of production goods. The tremendous increase in realized output of luxury goods contrasts sharply to the very slight in-crease in articles of mass consumption. Let us look at the luxury goods first [26*]:















Silk (million meters)



Even the Perfumery Trust, headed by the cultured Mme. Litvinoff, showed a great increase. [27*] Contrast the 270 per cent increase in “production” of perfumes to the measly 44 per cent in the production of cotton goods for the period of the Second Five Year Plan!

Even so the Stakhanovite was dissatisfied, for it was irksome to him to be favored only in the matter of luxury goods, whereas in the articles of first necessity the manual worker with his ration card was still favored by the state stores. And the prosperous kolkhoznik who was not entitled to a ration card, of what good was his prosperity to him? Clearly, the status of these two groups contradicted the reality of rationing. The state took steps to end this contradiction.

On November 15, 1935, the first All-Russian Conference of Stakhanovites was called to order. It was addressed by the Leader himself and Pravda waxed editorially enthusiastic about the “salt of the Soviet earth.” It initiated a campaign to teach the people “to respect those leaders of the people.” It tried to counteract the detestation of the rank and file workers toward these unsocial speed-demons. That hatred had no bounds and it was not altogether an unheard-of event that individual Stakhanovites were found murdered. The press hushed down the occasional murder and played up the state praise. These Stakhanovites, the masses were told, were “non-party Bolsheviks.” The Stakhanovites themselves were favored with something more practical than the label “non-party Bolshevik”: rationing was abolished!

The abolition of rationing made it possible for the Stakhanovite to reap full advantage of his high salary. The abolition of rationing benefited the prosperous kolkhoznik who had heretofore not been entitled to a ration card. The abolition of rationing worsened the conditions of the mass of toilers.

The state, however, pictured the abolition of rationing as a boon to the workers. A lot was said about the “rise in the consumption of the masses.” What they cited as “proof” of that was the increase in gross (not net) retail turnover. The State Treasury does not divide its revenue from turnover tax into that obtained from articles of mass consumption and those from heavy industry, but we know, through the manner in which it taxes individual items, that in no case could the percentage of turnover tax from heavy industry have been higher than 10 per cent. Hence, if we examine the gross retail turnover, we will see that there was not so much an increase in the turnover of goods as in the money turnover [28*]:


Gross Ret.


Net Ret.

of Tax





















Thus the effect of the turnover tax was “a rise in consumption of the masses” (read: a rise in the incidence of the tax) from 51.1 per cent in the first year of its adoption to 174.1 per cent in 1935, when rationing was abolished. According to the table above, that is according to the value of goods, production of articles of mass consumption more than quadrupled from 1930–35. But we know that, at best, production only doubled (that is, even if we take the Soviet economist’s gauge of value output and exclude only the turnover tax). Clearly, no more commodities could be consumed than were produced. But even if we accept the doubling in production of articles of mass consumption, we can still, by no stretch of the imagination, conclude that that meant a rise in the consumption of the masses. The high prices in effect after rationing made it difficult for the ordinary worker to buy even the few commodities he had bought during the rationing period. The rise in “mass” consumption meant a rise in the consumption of the labor and kolkhoz aristocracy and a decrease in the consumption of the rank and file workers, as we shall soon see.

The Russian statisticians would have us believe that there was a decrease in the prices of articles of mass consumption after rationing. As proof of that, they place parallel the prices in effect before and after rationing was abolished. However, what they place alongside of one another is not the rationed and non-rationed price but the open market prices, which were completely beyond the reach of the rank and file workers, and the commercial prices, that is, the state store prices after rationing was abolished and the prices were raised. As the table below will show, the reduction in the open market price (the single uniform price) was a tremendous increase nevertheless over the rationed price, which the worker had heretofore been entitled to [29]:



Rationed Prices


Open Market


Single Uniform






Black bread





Wheat flour




















Sunflower oil







Thus the “victorious reduction in prices” reveals a ten-fold rise in prices since the initiation of the First Five Year Plan. The change from the open market price to the single uniform price benefited only those who were not entitled to a ration card and had to buy in the open market. But for the mass of workers the abolition of rationing meant such a rise in price as must considerably decrease his standard of living. This deserves more detailed treatment, for his standard of living has deteriorated even more since then, as we shall see in examining his real wages at the outbreak of the Russo-German war.

4 – The Worker’s Standard of Living at the Outbreak of War

The above table was the first official glimpse we have had of the rising cost of living since the discontinuation of the publication of the food index in 1930. Further data in regard to the rise in retail prices in government stores in Moscow in 1939 and 1940 were gathered by the American Embassy and published in the November 1939 and May and August 1940 issues of the Monthly Labor Review. In addition to reporting the prices of food, the Review also records the fact that, although there were 129 items of foodstuffs in state stores in 1936, there were only 88 on January 1, 1939, only 83 on June 1, 1939, and only 44 items on January 1, 1940. Further, that such essential commodities as milk, butter, eggs, sugar and potatoes which were listed as available, are available very irregularly. The prices quoted have been disputed by no one. [2] The only subterfuge left to the Soviet apologists is that it is insufficient merely to show the rise in cost of food without knowing the Russian worker’s preference in food – he may prefer herring to caviar. But our method of measuring the worker’s standard of living takes away even that shabby subterfuge since the goods used are those found by an official study in Moscow in 1926 to be those consumed by the masses. [3]


Foodstuffs consumed weekly







in Moscow in 1926








Black bread








Wheat flour
































































Sunflower Oil














Using 1913 as 100, the index of the cost of food for 1928 is 187 and for 1940 it is 2,248. The weekly wages for those years were: 1913, six rubles; 1928, fourteen rubles, and 1940, 83 rubles. Again using 1913 as our base for nominal weekly wages, we have an index for 1928 of 233, and for 1940 of 1,383. We can now construct our index of real wages by dividing the nominal weekly wage into the real cost of food, thus obtaining 125 as the index of real wages in 1928 and 62.4 per cent for 1940, when compared to Czarist times, we must not forget! Had we considered the further rise in food prices by October 1940, it would have been a mere 55 per cent of 1913! And even that appallingly low figure, which so glaringly proves the deterioration in the worker’s standard of living, does not picture the situation at its worst for we have considered the single uniform price in 1940 and not the open market price (to which the worker sometimes had to resort because few foods were available in state stores). On the average, the open market prices are 78 per cent higher than the state store price! There is supposed to be no black market in Russia but in the officially recognized free market beefsteak sold for seventeen rubles a kilo when the state stores sold the same commodity at ten and a half rubles!

The full significance of the miserable living standards of the Russian worker first fully dawns upon one when he reads the Stalinist publicity of the “socialized” wage – that is, the free medical care, education and reduced rent that the Russian worker is supposed to count as part of his “wages” and of which he was deprived during Czarist times. First of all, even that would not bring the worker’s real wages to more than 70.8 per cent of Czarist time, which is not much to boast of for a “socialist” land. But more than that, the point as to the “socialized” wage does not affect our comparison with 1928. All of the beneficial legislation was enacted in the first years of the workers’ state. Both in relation to education [4] and health [5] the worker fares worse, not better, after three Five Year Plans than before their initiation. And in comparison to his 1928 standard of living his 1940 standard is but one-half! His standard of living deteriorated not only in regard to the main basis, food, but also in regard to his four square meters of living space and his clothing (in rubles):

Article of clothing







Calico, meter




Woolens, meter




Men’s Leather Shoes




Women’s Leather Shoes








We see here a fourteen-fold increase in the cost of clothing as compared to 1928. If, because of the paucity of data, we have not included rent and cost of clothing in computing the worker’s standard of living and real wages, that, too, was in favor of the state. The inescapable conclusion is that even from the most optimistic view the worker’s standard has decreased 20 to 30 per cent from Czarist times and by half since 1928! Neither should it be forgotten that we took the average weekly wage; the minimum weekly wage of 25–30 rubles would have been insufficient to pay for his food alone, much less consider clothing and rent! Contrast to this deterioration the fact that the per capita income has increased from 52 rubles in 1928 to 196 in 1937 and that the “national wealth” leaped from six billions in 1928 to 178 billions in 1940, and you have the most perfect polarization of wealth in an “industrially advanced” society!

* * *

We have traced the development of the “social group known as the proletariat”; let us now scan the social physiognomy of the “classless intelligentsia,” which is not a class “in the old sense of the word” (Stalin), but nevertheless performs the function of ruling production and the state.

II – The Intelligentsia: The Social Physiognomy
of the Ruling Class

Stalin was addressing the eighteenth party congress of the RCP in March, 1939:

“Notwithstanding the complete clarity of the position of the party on the question of the Soviet intelligentsia,” the Leader complained, “there are still within our party those who have views hostile to the Soviet intelligentsia and incompatible with the position of the party. Those who hold such incorrect views practice, as is known, a disdainful, contemptuous attitude toward the Soviet intelligentsia, considering it as a force foreign, even hostile, to the working class and the peasantry ... incorrectly carrying over toward the Soviet intelligentsia those views and attitudes which had their basis in old times when the intelligentsia was in the service of the landowners and the capitalists ...

“Toward the new intelligentsia a new theory is necessary, pointing out the necessity of a friendly relation to it, concern over it, respect for it and collaboration with it in the name of the interests of the working class and the peasantry.”[31*]

The following day the press waxed enthusiastic not only of the Leader but of the group he extolled, the intelligentsia. Izvestia assured us that “these leaders of the people” were “the salt of the earth.” Stalin, being a practical man, said that these “cadres” should be valued as “the gold fund of the party.”

Molotov, addressing the same congress, was very specific as to who constituted the intelligentsia. He listed 1.7 million directors, managers, kolkhoz heads and “others” – that is, the politicians – who constituted the “most advanced people.” When to the “most advanced” he added the rest of the intelligentsia, he got a total of 9.5 million who, with their families, constituted 13–14 per cent of the population. [6]

Zhdanov, the secretary of the party, drew some practical conclusions from the Leader’s “theory” and Molotov’s statistics. It was true that since there were “no exploiting classes” there could not be any bosses. But there were factory directors and they were a part, a most essential part, of the intelligentsia, the very part whom it was necessary “to respect and obey.” Therefore, he, Zhdanov, elaborated a plan by which to pave the way for smooth collaboration of these “classless” groups. The plan boiled down to a proposal to change the statutes of the party in such a way as to erase all distinction of class origin. [7] In arguing for the change, Zhdanov fairly wreaked tears of pity from his listeners when he told them the sad tale of a certain Smetanin who at the time that he was a worker at the factory Skorokhod had become a candidate for party membership. Before action was taken upon his application for membership he turned, first, into a Stakhanovite and immediately thereafter into the director of the factory, whereupon, according to the statutes of the party, he was placed in Category 4, for alien class elements. He protested: “How am I worse now that I am made a director of the factory?” The eighteenth congress of the CP – not the factory Skorokhod – “unanimously decided” that he was no “worse,” and the old statutes of the party were thrown overboard. The party, at any rate, toed the “theoretic” line of Stalin and decided that there were no classes in Russia and the “vanguard” party therefore need have no class distinctions in its statutes. But the course of the economy which proceeded upon its way more along the line of the world market and less along Stalin’s rationalizations, the production process which gave birth to a class and was in turn determined by it clearly revealed the social physiognomy of the rulers. Much as the Central Administration of National Economy statistics tried to give the 1939 census a “classless” physiognomy, and incomprehensive as the data were, there is much we can learn from them in regard to the actual existence of classes from it. Here is how the Central Administration of National Economy grouped its population statistics:

Social Group




Pct. of Total

Workmen in towns and villages



Employees in towns and villages



Kolkhoz members



Individual peasants



Handicraft workers in organized in cooperatives



Handicraft workers outside cooperatives



Non-Working Population



Individuals without indication of social standing






These percentages were further reshuffled in order to compare the social composition of the land of “socialism” with the land of Czarism:

Social Group





Workers and Employees



Collective farmers and cooperative handicraftsmen


Bourgeoisie (landlords, merchants, kulaks)


Individual farmers and non-cooperative handicraftsmen



Others (students, pensioners)


Non-working population


Not listed





Note that the whole population is accounted for by using the family as the unit. That helps hide both child labor and dependents on wage earners. Note, further, that the population is practically one homogeneous mass of “classless” toilers: almost 50 per cent of the population are workers and employees and the collective farmers constitute practically all of the other 50 per cent. And where are the intelligentsia we heard so much about? The reader will search in vain for them. Yet every “academician” who set out to analyze the above figures in the official periodicals had much to say about the rise of the intelligentsia. Who are they? What do they do? In order to find them and learn their social physiognomy, we shall have to break up the single category of “workers and employees,” which hides the ruling class under its broad wings. Let us turn to the occupational classifications and find out how Russians earn a living. The headings of the following groupings are mine, but the categories are from official statistics:


Heads of tractor brigades


Heads of field brigades


Heads of livestock brigades


Tractor drivers


Combine operators


Skilled laborers in industry, including metal workers,
lathe operators, welders and molders




“EMPLOYEES” (thousands)

Economists and statisticians


Legal personnel (judges, attorneys)


Engineers, architects (excluding those acting as directors)


Doctors and middle medical personnel


Engineers, architects (excluding those acting as directors)


Middle technical personnel


Agro-technical personnel




Cultural and technical wrks. (jnlsts, lbrns, club dirc.)


Art workers


Bookkeepers, accountants, etc.





Factory dirs. And mgrs., kolkhoz, sovkhoz, and MTS pres.




Scientific wkrs. (incl. supvrs, professors of higher
education institutions






* One million in the Far Northern territories was unavailable for analysis
Stakhanovites are not listed separately; they are spread among the aristocrats of labor
and “advanced” intelligentsia.
** Double-starred figures are those given by Molotov; I could find no later figures.

We thus get a total of 16.9 million, or only 10.02 per cent of the total population who are considered a part of the “classless intelligentsia” in the broader sense of the word. The “most advanced” of the intelligentsia, “the genuine creators of a new life,” as Molotov called them – those, that is, who are the real masters over the productive process – constitute a mere 3.4 million or 2.05 per cent of the total population. (We are not here considering the family unit since we are interested only in those who rule over the productive process, not their families who share in the wealth their husbands extract). The remaining eight per cent share in the surplus value and sing the praises of the rulers, but it is clear that they leave to the latter the running of the economy and the state.

The Central Administration of National Economy statistics, needless to say, did not reveal the exact share of surplus value appropriated by this “advanced” intelligentsia. But at least we now know who this group is and what it does. The part it plays in the process of production stamps it as clearly for the ruling class it is as if indeed it had worn a label marked “Exploiters.” Just as the Russian state could not “liquidate Category 4” merely by writing it off the party statute books, so it could not hide the social physiognomy of the ruling class merely by choosing for it the euphemistic title of “Intelligentsia.”

F. Forest

Author’s Footnotes

1. Stalin’s expression; see his speech on November 25, 1935.

2. Confirmatory evidence of the validity of these prices appeared in the Pravda of October 21, 1940, which announced that potatoes have been “reduced from one ruble and twenty kopeks to ninety kopeks” and “bread raised from eighty-five kopeks to a ruble per kilo.” The only place that had quoted the ruble and twenty kopeks as the price for potatoes was the Monthly Labor Review article; the last the outside had had of the official figures was the quotation of potatoes at fifty kopeks a kilo in 1935.

3. Furthermore, the benefit of the doubt in each case goes to the state. For example, of the eleven items listed in the 1920 budget, we have listed only ten because the eleventh, rice, was unavailable and rather than guess at a substitute we have simply taken for granted that the worker did without rice. Again, when the 1926 list did not mention the quality of food, we In each case put down the cheaper quality, thus the price for beef is that of beef for soup, not either roast beef or beefsteak; the prices of butter and wheat flour are second quality, etc.

4. He now has to pay for his education above the first year of high school.

5. Consider, for example, the pregnancy laws. In the first years of the workers’ state the working woman got eight weeks before and eight weeks after pregnancy; now she gets paid for a total of only 35 calendar days. Moreover, she does not get that unless she has worked seven months in a single enterprise; and that, when you consider the extent of the labor turnover, does not often happen!

6. The 1939 census was not yet published. Molotov based his figures on the 1937 census, which was not made public because it was “defective.”

7. When the NEP was introduced, the party of Lenin decided to keep careerist elements out of the party by establishing three categories, in the order of the accessibility of entrance into the party: the worker, the peasant and the employees.

Author’s Notes

26. Cf. L.E. Hubbard: Soviet Trade and Distribution.

27. Cf. N. Mikhailov: Land of the Soviets.

28. Table abstracted from Quarterly Bulletin of Soviet-Russian Economics, No. 1–2, November 1939.

29. 1928 prices abstracted from Statistical Handbook (in Russian); l932 prices from Prokopovicz’s Bulletin, No. 1–2; 1935 prices from American Quarterly for the Soviet Union, April 1940. Starred items are 1936 prices.

30. The 1918 figures are from Prokopovlo’s Bulletin, No. 1–2; 1928 prices as in note 29*; 1940 figures for beginning of year from “Monthly Labor Review”; starred figure, 1939. The 1928 study, including quantities, reproduced in International Labor Review.

31. Problems of Economy, No. 3, 1939.


Last updated on 15 February 2105