Raya Dunayevskaya 1957

Russia’s Internal Crisis

Source: This piece appeared as Dunayevskaya’s “Two Worlds” column in the November 1957 issue of News & Letters;
Transcribed: by Kevin Michaels.

Unrest in the Russian Army

Russia’s scientific achievement in launching the satellite has all but hidden the manifold crisis in Russia – in agriculture, in industry, among the youth, and especially in the Red Amy where a Russian marshal gets 114 times more pay than a private. (In the American Army a 5-star general gets about 15 times more pay than a private.)

Nevertheless, during World War II the Red Army soldiers flocked into the Communist Party, and were encouraged to do so. When they reached the capitalist West – even such backward areas as Rumania – the soldiers were surprised to learn of the standard of living and plenitude of consumer goods as compared to Russia. They showed their dissatisfaction with the Communist Party and immediately the latter retaliated with a vicious campaign against “bourgeois deviations” in the Army. That was in Stalin’s time.

In Khrushchev’s time, the restlessness of the demobilized Red Army men – particularly those who had been on occupation duty – was such that he sent thousands of them, by regiments and divisions, into the wilderness of Siberia in his attempt to transform that arid land into a new bread basket to compete with the Ukraine. This year, Khrushchev had to admit that the drought has led to a decrease in the harvest. As for the Red Army men that were sent to put down the Hungarian Revolution, there was too much fraternization between the Hungarian revolutionaries and them to please either Khrushchev or Zhukov.

In a word, it wasn’t Zhukov’s non-acceptance of the Party’s leadership but the rank and file soldier’s non-acceptance of the Party leadership that led to Zhukov’s dismissal. Making him a scapegoat gave notice to the Army that the Communist Party will not tolerate any revolt.

The Rebelliousness of the Russian Peasants and Workers

No one’s memory is shorter than that of our “Russian experts.” One would think that because the scientific achievements of the man-made moon signifies that achievement also of intercontinental missiles that, thereby, all the Russian claims of industrial superiority are justified. Yet, it was only recently that the Russians openly reported that they had to scrap the Sixth Five Year Plan launched with so much ballyhoo at their 20th Congress.

The plan was based on nothing short of a 100 per cent rise in agricultural productivity, and a 50 per cent rise in labor productivity in industry. Since then, the revolt in the countryside has been so great that they have returned to a good deal of private capitalistic incentives, abolished the agricultural taxes to the State from private plots, and launched an unsuccessful campaign to get the farmer in to the Communist Party.

The scrapping of the Sixth Five Year Plan was not done lightly. It was the rebelliousness of the Russian workers which compelled this. The Russian leadership has had to 1) pass a minimum wage law; 2) reduce the work week by 2 hours and promise a 7 hour day by 1960; and 3) promise that with the new Fifteen Year Plan which will soon be instituted, first consideration – directly after heavy industry, of course – will be given in housing, in 10 or 12 years Khrushchev thought.

The Revolt of the Russian Youth

Finally, there are the Russian youth who have been reared in Khrushchev’s Communism and want none of it. The Russian papers are full of stories about “hooligans,” “delinquent youth and delinquent parents.” They are now discussing the new law for exiling “parasites.” In the 40th year of its existence, the monstrosity they dare call a “workers’ state” is passing a law “On Measures for Intensifying the Struggle Against Anti-Social Parasitic Elements” – “able-bodied citizens who are deliberately avoiding socially useful work and engaging in vagrancy"!

No country in the world has more laws designed to force the youth to labor, military service, ideological conformity. The State Labor Reserves Draft youth into labor schools and then force them to work wherever the State sends them “at prevailing rates of wages.” Thus, when Khrushchev decided on his scheme “to transform” the Urals, 150,000 youth were sent out there. There is, besides, compulsory universal military service, and of course there is “the Party” or rather the youth leagues. Nevertheless, they have run out of words of abuse against the youth, and have now invented a new word for those they call “cynical, bored youth.” It is Nibonicho – neither God nor the devil.

The nibonichos, plus the workers, plus the Red Army soldiers, make up the majority of the Russian people who are in continuous revolt against the One Party Totalitarian State. But we have our eyes turned skyward and fail to see this great human force for freedom.