How the Soviets Work

Chapter 2: Democracy in the Factory

IVAN'S story haunted me as I left the workers' club-house and returned to the offices, to learn something of the organization of the factory. As one man expounded the method by which the factory council is elected and another took me over the creche, the gymnasium, and the library, it rang in my ears like a refrain. The essential fact, it seemed to me, was one which no one mentioned. The Cossacks are gone from the courtyard, and the snow at last is white. Nor did I wonder any longer, why, after tearing the Czar from his throne, it seemed necessary also to drive the owner of the Prohorovka Mills from his counting house. The Cossacks symbolized the alliance of these two.

On the business aspect of life in a Russian textile factory I will not linger, for industry is the subject of another volume in this series. Like all the larger concerns in Russia, this mill has been nationalized. On the productive side it is subject to a big organization known as the Textile Trust; on the commercial side a separately organized "syndicate" disposes of its manufactures. In spite of the use of such words as trust and syndicate, no private capital is involved, and the Russians intend only to convey that the industries grouped as "trusts" enjoy autonomy in the conduct of their affairs, though their profits go to the State. They are under an obligation, however, to return at least ten percent of their annual surplus to the workers in the form of a welfare fund. Last year the Textile Trust did, in fact, assign as much as twenty-two percent of its profits for the benefit of its employees, and this considerable sum was spent mainly upon housing.

Industry during the early years of the Revolution passed through a period of chaos. The Civil War cut the mills off from the supply of raw cotton from Turkestan, and discipline among the half-starved workers was disastrously slack. The facts about the output of this factory suggest that its life is once more normal. With approximately the same number of "hands," eight thousand as in 1913, its output, in spite of the obligatory fortnight's holiday for every worker and the reduction of working hours from ten to eight, has risen from a monthly average of ten million metres in 1913 to 11.9 million metres at present. The machinery has not yet been renewed, though some new machines are now on order, but in other respects there has been substantial progress. The factory now runs on electric power, and some important additions have been made to its buildings.

Before the Revolution one sentence would have sufficed to describe the government of the factory. Like that of Russia, it was an autocracy Which rested on the Cossacks in the courtyard. The structure is more complicated to-day. I shall not attempt to describe here the exact mechanism by which the two governing factors, prices and wages, are determined by negotiation between Trust, Syndicate and Trade Union, with boards of arbitration and the Supreme Economic Council in the background. In spite of the apparent complexity of these arrangements, the root fact is as simple as that of pre-war days. The single power that inspires and harmonizes trusts and trade unions is the power which dominates the Soviets-the power of the workers them-selves who wield it-it is important to remember, in alliance with the peasants and under the firm leadership of the Communist Party. With this preface, let us see how the Dictatorship of the Workers operates in this typical factory.

The ruling Democracy has, in every Russian factory and workshop, its own selective committee or Works Council. It has three chief functions. It speaks for the workers in all their dealings with the Management. It administers the numerous social institutions grouped round the factory. It is also the body which plays the decisive part in the annual elections of the Soviets. The public life of Russia is based on two units -- the factory and the village. In the factory grounds are located most of the centers of communal life, from the public library to the technical classes, which in Western lands are more usually established outside by the municipality. It is as workers of the factory that the citizens of Russia choose its governing Soviets by their votes. In the factory the ruling Communist Party organizes its nuclei (branches). One might make a curious and elaborate study of the Constitution which Russia has evolved during these ten years of struggle and experiment. But one simple fact is fundamental. The entire structure rests upon the working team as its unit. The factory, as it were, was the battalion in the army which made the Revolution. The Soviets were, in their original form, nothing more mysterious than strikers' committees. It is not theory, but the need in the hour of struggle for some living organization, which explains the supremacy of the factory in the Soviet System.

The method by which the Works Council is elected may vary somewhat from factory to factory. In the Prohorovka Mills (now renamed Trehgorna or "Three Hills"), the plan is that every five workers, grouped according to their crafts and occupations, choose a delegate to attend a General Conference. In smaller factories which have a hall or shed large enough to hold the whole body of workers, it is usual that all of them at-tend this meeting. Each craft or occupation-the mill employs, among its eight thousand hands, engineers, transport workers, and dyers, as well as spinners and weavers-exercises at this conference the right to nominate its candidates. Each name may be discussed separately. The election is by show of hands, but no candidate can be elected unless he secures at least half the votes of all the delegates. The Works Council has in this big factory fifteen members-women as well as men. Of these, seven, including the chairman and the secretary, are relieved from their tasks in the factory and give their whole time to the service of the men and women who elected them. They receive a uniform wage, 15o roubles monthly, which is rather less than those of them who are skilled workers would earn at their own jobs. The other eight members attend the committees of the Works Council but continue to work in the factory. The Council has its own office in the grounds, and its various functions are devolved upon sub-committees.

Its dealings with the Management fall to a "Disputes Commission" of three members, which regularly sits with three members of the administrative staff. It has the right to discuss every grievance of the workers, individual or collective. The three shop stewards (if one may use that familiar name) first sift the complaints that reach them from the employees, and then, if these seem at first sight well-founded, carry them to the joint meeting. These cases include not only unjustifiable dismissals but demands for promotion and higher wages. The procedure is that each of the six members of the joint committee records his opinion on each case briefly in a book kept for the purpose. An agreed decision is often reached in this way, but, failing agreement, there is an appeal to the Trade Union which may lay the case before the arbitration board of the Moscow district, and from this again, in the gravest cases, to a national board.

To another sub-committee falls the duty of promoting efficiency. It may call attention to any slackness or fault of organization in the running of the factory. It may also adopt and advocate suggestions or inventions which come from the workers. It has the right, when-ever it thinks fit, to call for a joint meeting with the Administration. It may, and frequently does, criticize members of the administrative staff on the ground either of inefficiency or discourtesy. On courtesy and humanity in the dealings of the staff with subordinates, Russians, alike in the factory and in the army, justly lay great stress. The old regime was hated, not merely because it was oppressive, but even more because it aggravated its oppressions by gross manners. Brutal language was habitual alike in the factory and in the army, and blows were much too common and went without redress. These inhumanities belong to the past, and if they linger anywhere, it is only because the too passive workers lack the courage to protest.

I tried to discover the attitude of the factory towards discipline. A judgment on that point is not easy for a stranger to frame. But I may quote the words of the chairman of the Works Council. "Our workers," he said, "are not children. They will stand a strict administrator, and even admire him, but on one condition. He must be courteous. They are undergoing an education in discipline. The main point is that they realize that the factory is their own, and that its efficiency means their prosperity. Two tests you may apply. Our output is higher than in 1913, and there has been no strike since the November revolution."

At another cotton mill, a much more modern and better-equipped place than the old Prohorovka, I had some talk with the Managing Director, who was himself a former worker, a handsome, square-jawed man who combined a conscious sense of power with that calmness and courtesy which Russians value so highly, because it is not the commonest gift of the Slav temperament. He paid a high tribute to the services of the Works Council in maintaining discipline. It had not as yet hit on anything which could be called a new invention, but it had made some excellent proposals. for the re-modeling of parts of the machinery and for the better organization of work, which helped to account for the high output of which his factory boasted. A manager, he reminded me, works always with the knowledge that his men have the right to make reports upon him which his superiors will carefully weigh. He knows that he will be judged-partly, indeed, by his success in maintaining high output and good quality at a low cost, but also by his relations with his workers. But, apart from the new sense of freedom and self-respect which the workers enjoy, the Revolution has raised their cultural level and this has made them more efficient workers. He valued very highly the various social institutions associated with the factory, in which the team of workers ceases to be a mere team that works the machinery and becomes a family leading its corporate life in a place which it regards as the common home. This system, he thought, did more than anything else to convince the workers that the factory is their own and to beget in them a sense of responsibility and some pride in its efficiency.

Plainly, the power of the workers to influence the ad-ministration of the factory goes far beyond the right to lodge complaints. The manager of each cotton mill is appointed by the Textile Trust, whose directors, in their turn, are nominated by the administration which rests on the elected Soviets. In practice these appointments are never made without the approval of the Trade Union, which, in its turn, will usually be guided by the opinion of the Works Council. The main duty of the Manager is to direct the team which mans the factory, and the quality which he must possess above all others is the gift of leading men. It is possible to recruit "specialists" on whose technical advice he may rely in dealing with machinery and processes of manufacture, and these men, though they are his subordinates, are often more highly paid than the Managing Director himself. The commercial aspects of manufacture do not directly concern him; these fall to the separate distributing agency, the Textile Syndicate. This sub-division of work makes it possible for him to concentrate on the problems of leadership, and explains the success which former workers often attain when they are promoted to those important posts. This is the case, I believe, in about half of the mills of the Textile Trusts. These promotions, indeed, are often made on the suggestion of the Trade Union or the Works Council.

At each of the three textile mills which I visited, the manager was what Russian workers affectionately call a "red director"-but one must have visited Russia to grasp all the associations of the magical word "red." It is, to begin with, the color which appeals most vividly to the Slav imagination. It is the color which every peasant woman uses most lavishly when she embroiders her blouses and her bridal costume. The word itself has, indeed, the double significance in the Russian language of "red" and "beautiful." And since 1917 it has won a still deeper meaning. It is the heraldic color of the socialist idea. It is lavished as a title of honor on every popular institution, from the army which won the civil war for the workers, to those directors who symbolize their victory in the factory. The Cossacks are gone from the courtyard; the Director, who has succeeded the autocrat who called them in, was himself a worker, and bears the homely title of "red."

The worker who seeks a sign that something is changed in his factory since the Revolution will find it in the big stucco villa which crowns one of the three hillocks within its grounds. It was the house in which the owner used to live. To-day it is a creche, spotlessly clean and radiant with good nature, in which mother may leave their infants while they are at work. The same thing, indeed, has happened all over Russia. The palaces of great industrial magnates in Moscow are now picture galleries or museums. Their country seats are sanatoria in which the workers spend their holidays an take their cures. In the villages the manor houses of the lesser gentry have been turned into club rooms an schools for the peasants. But I saw nothing quite s characteristic of the new Russia as the conversion of this comfortable villa into a day nursery for the workers children. This nation is passionately preoccupied with its own future, and it lavishes on its children all the care which its scanty means will permit. The task which Russia has consciously set herself of raising a new generation which will reach, in its sturdy limbs and athletic mind, the full stature of humanity, begins in this creche, but the same purpose inspires all the social institutions of the factory. One may walk the streets in the business quarter of Moscow without realizing that it differs very sharply from any capital of Western Europe, save, indeed, by the daring gaiety of its religious architecture and the Slavonic untidiness of its older buildings. There are the same wares in its shops. There are the same contrasts between the rather rich and the very poor. In its restaurants, like a ghost from the old order, a beggar creeps mutely with outstretched hands round the loaded tables. Leave the streets behind you, pass a factory gate, and you will enter an intimate world where the real rulers of Russia lead their family life, governing themselves, sharing their studies and their recreations, and building the future in the common nursery and the common school.

The Works Council (or, as some translate its name, the Factory Committee) is an influential though not a ruling power in the productive work of the factory. Over the social institutions of the factory it has full control. These are its pride, and to develop them the workers are content to draw much lower wages than they might otherwise receive. In these institutions they realize themselves and satisfy their social instincts.

The child of a worker in the factory "comes on the strength" (to use a soldier's phrase) even before it is born. Its mother ceases work in the mill two months before its birth, and may not return until two months thereafter. During these four months, she receives, not a meagre "maternity benefit," but her full wages. In textile factories, where fully half the workers are women, this means a constant shortage of from three to five percent in the labor forces of the factory; the whole charge falls upon the Management. At two months, the day nursery awaits the infant. It is under daily medical care (usually from a woman doctor) ; the nurses are well trained, and in the two creches which I visited, the most scrupulous rules of cleanliness and hygiene were observed. The mothers, until the infant is weaned, have leave of absence from the mill, for intervals of half an hour, to suckle their babies. From the. day nursery the infant passes to the kindergarten, and thence to the national school."

The child attains the dignity of a worker in the mill at sixteen years of age. That phrase in some lands rings with bitter irony. In Russia the words "worker and peasant" are used much as old-fashioned Englishmen will talk of the "nobility and gentry." They are titles of honor. The child who is born into these ranks has the sense that he is growing up with power and opportunity before him. There are no barriers to cross; the road stands smooth and open in the factory and the State, in the army and even in the learned professions, if he has the ambition to serve his fellows. The children who have seen life opening before them since the Revolution, acquire instinctively this sense of power. I was talking in 1920 with a group of quite little children in a wood outside Moscow. A bright boy asked why England was blockading Russia. I answered the embarrassing question, and then came another: "Why do the English workers allow it?" The little fellow could not realize that there could be any limits to the power of a working class. To enter the mill is for these lads and girls their initiation into great rights and duties.

During the first two years (from 16 to 18 years of age) the young worker spends only six hours in the mill. For three years and a half the apprentice attends a technical school. Of these apprentices under instruction there were in this mill about two hundred. Twice in the year these young workers undergo a thorough medical inspection. If they show signs of strain, easier work is given them or quarters may be found for them in one of the so-called "night sanatoria" where they are taught, without any interruption to their daily work, to lead a normal life and observe the laws of health. The medical inspection may also be followed up by an examination of the dwellings in which the adolescents live, and by some instruction on the spot in hygiene.

There was also in this factory (and this is now usual throughout Russia) an active pursuit of physical culture. No less than twelve hundred of the 'workers were taking some of the courses for physical training. There were in the grounds a running track and a skating rink, and two hundred pairs of skis for winter sports. There was also a gymnasium, a club for boxing, and a shooting gallery. The young women, as well as the lads, took their part in these diversions. For those who had intellectual ambitions, there was a course extending over eight months which was designed to improve the general education of young men and women who aspired to enter the Rabfac (workers' college) . A direct road led from the factory to the University. [The rabfac (contraction for workers' faculty) is a college in which young workers of promise who have had only an elementary education are prepared, in courses extending over three or four years, to enter the University.]

But the Works Council, in its concern for the health and education of the young, is far from neglecting the adults. For them also there was this year a compulsory medical examination, which was followed up, where necessary, by treatment. With illiteracy a continual warfare has been waged since the revolution, and among the town workers the illiterates have now become a mere residue; but a voluntary society exists in this factory for teaching adults (chiefly newcomers from villages) to read and write. Of more importance are the classes in which groups (numbering not more than twenty-five persons in each) of workers whose education is deficient, are instructed in arithmetic and other subjects of the ordinary school curriculum. Far beyond these elementary classes there are courses for skilled workers who possess a practical knowledge of their craft, in which the theory of the science which underlies it (chemistry or physics) is imparted.

A big club forms the center of social life in this as in other factories. It was well filled when I visited it one evening-chiefly by young people. The food in its restaurant was cheap and good. In one room piano practice was going on, in another singing. A reading room was well-stocked with newspapers and periodicals. Some of the members were playing chess, and there were many women in the sewing room. The library contained the Russian classics, but they filled only a few of its many shelves; the demand for such books, I gathered, is not great. The Russian worker of this generation has a practical mind, and he devours the treatises on the sciences, on history and elementary anthropology, on the Darwinian theory, on the origins of religion, and above all on Marxian economics; which pour from the soviet presses. Even the women, I was told, seem to prefer this severe reading to novels. In addition to this library in the club there was also a system by which boxes of books were sent to the workers' homes. But the room in the club which interested me most was one in which members were invited to discuss with experienced helpers the difficulties which they had met in their reading. Two pairs of young men were busily debating their difficulties, and others were waiting their turn. They argued hotly, though with courtesy, determined not to be satisfied too easily or to take anything on trust. One was discussing a point in economics, and the other a difficulty in the Marxist conception of history.

I saw the little theatre which the club-house contains, but no performance was going on that evening. The Crafts, into which the workers in this mill are divided, have their "family evenings" on Sundays in this theatre, at which a play is acted or music performed. The dramatic societies, it seems, take their efforts seriously, call in professional actors to train them, and vie with one another to produce good work. There is also a full amateur orchestra of sixty-five players and a string band of eighteen players. It is a notable feature of Moscow life that the best of its orchestras-notably the wonderful "Persymphans" orchestra, which plays with-out a conductor-frequently give concerts for the workers in their own club-rooms, and find that a classical program is warmly appreciated.

My last glimpse was of a room assigned to a society which encourages aviation-in its military as well as its civilian uses. Several young men and women were making parts for a model aeroplane, and on the wall was a hideous poster symbolizing chemical warfare. This society popularizes these devilries of modern war, and collects considerable sums for the airfleet. One touched the realities of contemporary Russia in this room. The blockade is still a living memory, and the Soviet Republic lives like a beleaguered garrison in a hostile world. No one is allowed to forget that the Revolution may again be required to defend its existence. One had, in-deed, in this club, a sense of strenuous peace. It was a tranquil corner of the battlefield which strong hands had cleared and fortified. On the walls were pictures that illustrated the Civil War; portraits of the leaders were in every room, and as usual there was a corner dedicated to the idolatry of Lenin. If the Russian workers educate themselves, it is to carry on their struggle.

A full account of the social institutions grouped round a Russian factory would expand into a study of all that the Soviets are doing or trying to do for the health and security of the workers, whether by preventive medicine or by social insurance.*." Every big factory has its own hospital, dispensary, and medical staff. There are sanatoria in the Crimea, the Caucasus, and elsewhere for sick and convalescent workers. Every worker enjoys his fortnight's summer holiday at full pay, and on the walls of the club-room were posters advertising trips on the Volga steamers. For workers engaged in processes which may in any degree endanger health, the holiday is for a full month, and hours are shorter and pay higher. The various benefits which are classified as "social insurance" add twenty percent to the wages bill of a textile factory, and when some similar services (chiefly educational) are added, which also fall on the budget of the factory, it is probable that the workers receive, in kind, benefits which add about twenty-five percent to the value of their wages.

Like every Russian factory this mill had its housing scheme. Housing is the sorest subject in Russia to-day. Readers of Tolstoy will recall his ghastly picture of the conditions in which the workers lived at the end of last century in Moscow, and Maxim Gorki has etched his studies of their physical degradation on our memories.

With such a legacy, an impoverished country, staggering out of the miseries of a disastrous civil war, could not hope to cope promptly. In Moscow the problem has actually been aggravated since the Revolution by the removal of the capital from Petersburg. On the other hand, house room has been severely rationed, and the quarters in which comfortable families enjoyed a super-abundance of space have been divided for the benefit of the many. The congestion, however, is still acute and, in some quarters of the city, scandalous. The only mitigations of this misery are that there is no longer a privileged minority, and that the cost of inadequate and often uncomfortable and even insanitary quarters has been reduced, for those with low incomes, to an almost negligible figure. The landlord has disappeared, and rent is applied, under the direction of a committee elected by the tenants in each block of flats and tenements, solely to cover the cost of repairs and improvements. An elaborate tariff has been fixed which adjusts the rent to the income of the tenant. The minutely graduated sliding scale exacts the minimum from workers who receive low wages or salaries, and the maximum from the few who still contrive to live by what the new Russia regards as anti-social practices-the exploitation of hired labor, speculation, or the receipt of interest. There is a standard allowance of floor space for each member of the family, and an eloquent table specifies the large deductions which must be made from the normal rent when a room is without windows, when it is "semi-dark," when it lacks water-supply, or electricity, or sanitation, or when it is a mere corridor or vestibule which gives access to other rooms.

There are two conclusions to be drawn from this table. It is an anatomy of misery, which reveals that, even after the one-privileged class has been severely rationed in house room, there remains too little to furnish even the barest minimum of sanitary housing to every inhabitant of Moscow. In the second place, it means that the new housing schemes have as yet scarcely begun to make an impression on this massive discomfort. Capital is so scarce in Russia that little attempt has been made to use national or municipal credit for the building of new dwellings. The usual method is that those who desire better or bigger quarters form themselves into cooperative groups, and by monthly payments finance the building of a block of flats. To housing schemes, however, the various Trusts contribute largely from their profits, and the greater part of the twenty-two percent of its surplus which the Textile Trust voted this year for the welfare of its workers went to assist building schemes. Some big blocks of workers' flats have been built since the Revolution in the grounds of the Three Hills Mill. In these, the fortunate families which inhabit them can lead a clean and self-respecting life. They rep-resent an almost unimaginable progress when one contrasts them with the conditions in the older tenements, but alike in the space available and in the provision of modern conveniences, they are decidedly below the standard of similar workers' dwellings built in recent years in England or Germany. Russia is still a poor country, and its level of material comfort can rise substantially above the pre-war tidemark, only as the production of wealth surpasses the low pre-war standard.

This rapid survey of the results of self-government in the life of a typical factory would be incomplete without some reference to wages. The textile industry was, before the Revolution, one of the worst paid in Russia. Its workers were usually peasants from regions whose poor soil and under-sized and ill-cultivated holdings drove them into industry. But living, as they did, with one foot in town and one in the village, they never made the best of either world. Wages were low, partly because the labor of children competed with that of adults, and partly because the family rarely relied on the wages which it drew from the mill as its sole means of subsistence. In nominal wages the textile trade shows a large increase, and has improved its position relative to other trades. At the end of 192.6 the general level of nominal wages had just passed the pre-war line. Taking 100 as the figure in 1913, the average wage for all Russian industries stood in the last quarter of 1926 at 100.4 while the average textile wage would be represented by 121. But this increase was far from meeting the alarming rise of prices. The general price level in Russia stood at 22o for the economic year October, 1925 -October, 1926, as compared with 100 in 1913. Even when we allow for the benefits in kind represented by social insurance (which may add twenty percent to wages), for the decrease in rent (which is said to be equivalent to an addition of four or five percent to wages), and for free education, it is obvious that even textile workers are financially in a worse position than before the war.(1)

I have told the story of this mill at some length, be-cause in its typical experiences lies the key to an under-standing of the Russia of yesterday and to-day. It was because the Cossacks were called in to drive the cheated workers to their tasks, that the end came at length by violent revolution, and could not have come by peaceful means. It was because the mill owner had used the power of the Czarist State to oppress his workers that the owner in his turn was fated to disappear when the Czar himself had fallen. It is because the recent past of degradation and oppression is still a living thing in these workers' memories, that it seems to them so great a thing that they should govern themselves and manage their own lives.

It might puzzle an English worker to see these Russians proud and contented on the low wages which they bring to their cramped homes. He might not think that even the courtesy which they now enjoy from managers and overseers was an adequate compensation. That English worker has never felt a Cossack's whip on his back in the courtyard of the mill, nor has that English worker ever known what it means to hunger after knowledge and beauty and find a policeman in his path. Fatigue and poverty, ignorance and distrust of his own untrained mind, might keep him away from an instructive lecture. But he has never known what it means to close every aperture in the cellar lecture room, lest a ray from the tallow candle should betray it to a gendarme. He has now, for two or three generations, man-aged his own affairs without serious hindrance in his own Trade Union, and even to elect a Works Council with the wide powers of this democracy in the factory might seem to him a smaller experience than it seems to Russians. And just because the State, as he knows it, has not in our day felt any morbid jealousy when he formed associations for political, industrial, or educational purposes, there are in his mind no repressed social instincts which would rejoice, even amid poverty, at the creation in the factory grounds of a workers' club. The same phrases which define the socialist creed would be applauded alike by English and by Russian workers, but a savage and bitter experience has given to them in Russia an explosive power which in our day they have never had in Western Europe. But I shall moralize no longer on my account. Old Ivan, after he had told his story, sat back to enjoy a cigarette and a glass of tea.

"Yes," he continued, "it is quite true that in those days we were better off in some ways materially. Our wages in the last years before the war would buy rather more than they will buy to-day. But what is it that the Scriptures say? `Man does not live by bread alone!' We were dark and ignorant in those days. Why, it was not till I was put away in Siberia that I learned to read, and even now I write with some difficulty. But now-I can read all there is to read and no one will stop me. Yes, I've read all about Darwin, and many a book on the science of agriculture. I've even lectured about that in our village. And don't forget that though we may still lead a hard life in some ways, our children will be better off-morally, incomparably better. Look at the chances they have even now, poor as we are-the books and the music, the classes and the courses, at which any boy or girl, who wants to learn, can learn as much as any of the students in the old days. And even in the village, things are changing. After I had taken a course at the agricultural school, I came back and told them all about nitrogen and how plants feed. We did away with the strip system. We introduced a proper rotation of crops. We started harrowing the fields in spring. I told them that they planted their cabbages too close, and what is more I explained why. They wouldn't believe me. But I proved to them that I could get more out of the same space from three hundred plants than they got from twelve hundred. And now they're eager to learn."

"Yes," said his wife, "we live in an age of progress. Why, Ivan was working at twelve years of age and there was no school for him. And then we're free; we can say what we like. There's no flogging now. Why, I can remember when a man was flogged if he got drunk and stayed away for a day from work. And now, even in our village, the peasants want to learn. You see newspapers in every cottage, and even the women go to the village library -- yes, and they carry books home and read them."

Ivan and his wife had said their say. As I left them, the bright marble of the monument in the courtyard reflected a ray from an electric lamp. Tramping over the snow, I found myself noting its innocent whiteness.

Next: Chapter 3: A Soviet Election

(1) Allowing for these benefits in kind, the general index of remuneration would stand presumably at a little above 125, with the cost of living at 220. Even if it falls, as the result of the policy recently adopted, below 200, the position is still sufficiently depressing. The average figure, more-over, conceals some painful contrasts in the position of various categories of workers. While the textile worker, for example, has risen in the scale, the miner has fallen, for his average nominal wage is only 78 percent of the pre-war figure. There is, moreover, a remarkable disparity between the wages of skilled and unskilled men in all trades. Thus a smith employed in machine construction will earn 99 roubles a month, a laborer only 50 roubles; a moulder in the railway workshops earns 90 roubles, a laborer 42. Even in the textile trade a spinner earns 69 roubles a month and a laborer only 42. But the most unfortunate workers are to be found among clerical employees in small towns, and among teachers in village schools, who may earn as little as 3o or 4o roubles a month. A country doctor may get no more than 40 or roubles, and some of the younger qualified doctors actually prefer to seek skilled manual work. I heard of a woman employed in a responsible clerical post in a public hospital in a small town who received only 25 roubles a month, and this was not an exceptional case. These shocking contrasts are a dark shadow on Russian life. The Trade Unions are undoubtedly struggling to raise the position of the more depressed grades of workers, especially the unskilled manual workers. But no attempt has been made to fix any general minimum or living wage, and I fear that the professional workers have no advocates among the leading men.