V. I. Lenin

Cheap Meat for the “People”

Written: Written on June 8 (21), 1913
Published: Published on June 16, 1913 in Pravda No. 137. Printed from the Pravda text. Signed: V..
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 41, pages 289.2-291.1.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) © 2004 Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.  

What a sensation! A most vital need of the workers is being satisfied! Cheap meat for the people—where? what? how?

Russkoye Slovo reports that the city slaughter-house in Moscow has opened a “Freibank”, i.e., a shop for the sale   of cheap meat which has been rendered harmless and certified as relatively fit for use.

Cheap meat is a good thing. But what is the meaning of “rendered harmless”, “relatively fit for use” (consequently, there would be equal reason to say “relatively unfit for use”!)? Here is what it means:

When animals are put up for sale, they are examined by veterinary inspectors. Sick ones are rejected. No permission is given to slaughter them, because their use for food threatens to infect humans with various diseases. Most rejected animals are tubercular and measly (worm-infected).

Of the total of about 450,000 head of cattle going through the Moscow slaughter-house almost 30,000 are rejected as suspect.

And so this suspect measly and tubercular cattle is rendered harmless by boiling in a special chamber under the supervision of a veterinary surgeon for about three hours. This boiling kills off the worms and the tubercular bacilli.

Well, apparently all, or almost all, die off or nearly die off! This yields cheap boiled meat that has been rendered harmless.

The people say, according to a comment in Russkoye Slovo, that “this meat won’t kill you, but it may give you TB or stomach trouble, because, after all, the brutes were ailing.”

The demand for this meat is heavy. Workers from the city itself go there and queue up for a long time. The morning queues consist mostly of women, housewives; the day queues, of workers, mainly builders.

The boiled meat that has been rendered harmless and that won’t kill you but will give you stomach trouble is just right for the people. The people cannot afford real meat.

It is said that the more painstaking the veterinary super vision, the more meat is rejected. “So”, Russkoye Slovo concludes, “the population have a twofold interest in thorough supervision: the middle classes want sound meat delivered from, the slaughter-house; the poor, more cattle rejected and the Freibank kept well supplied with meat.”

We certainly live in very civilised and philanthropic times: we have learned to make the population take a “twofold interest”. And the “freedom” for cheap meat   is remarkable: after all, “Freibank” in German means “free shop”.

Civilisation, freedom, cheap products, revival of trade—everything is for the people! Whenever you see an advertisement: “People’s Quarters Society”—you can be sure that the cellar or garret will be cheap and under medical supervision: it won’t kill you of course, but you will get TB.

Whenever you see a signboard: “People’s Dining-Hall”—don’t hesitate to go in. You will be served cheap boiled meat which has gone through the slaughter-house under supervision, and which has not gone through the slaughter house without supervision.

Whenever you see a signboard: “People’s Library”—you can afford to exult. There you will find cheap or even free pamphlets issued by the Union of the Russian People or the All-Russia Nationalist Club, under the medical supervision of the spiritual censorship.

It is being said that a “Freibank” is soon to be opened for the sale of “people’s bread”—made of grass, which is boiled, rendered harmless and baked under veterinary, sorry, I mean medical supervision.

Civilisation, freedom, cheap products, revival of trade—everything is for the people! And the population will find itself with a growing twofold interest: the rich, to have their meat sound, and the poor, to have the “Freibank” well stocked with meat relatively fit for use.


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