A real chance for wage workers become the true masters of their enterprises, however, and his life was lost in the late 1980-ies.
In the centenary year of the great Russian revolution, it is useful to ponder why the Soviet Union during Perestroika did not take place the transition to the present (“true”, “right”, and so on) socialism. This question somehow, no one seriously asked, although it seems to me, crying. Because the chance, as it seemed, it was.
Indeed, by the time he came to power in the USSR in 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev, the material conditions for such a transition existed in full. 99% of the means of production in the Soviet Union were state-owned. By itself, this fact did not mean a truly socialist relations in the economy, but could serve as material resources for their creation.
The lack of a large private property, and indeed, any more or less broad layer of owners of means of production, theoretically expected smooth transition to a new phase of socialist construction, which hired workers would have to become real owners of their enterprises and institutions, and with them the masters of their own lives.
I deliberately emphasize that we are talking about means of production, that is, “factories, Newspapers, steamships” because private ownership of the means of consumption existed in the form of millions of cars, houses, small plots of land for these villas, private houses in the village, cooperative apartments in the city, this property of Soviet citizens, euphemistically called then “personal”, in the Soviet Union ever was.
During this new phase of socialist construction, hypothetically, could and should have been, finally, to happen what in his time wrote so much, the founders of scientific communism, but that did not happen in practice of socialist construction. Namely, “overcoming the alienation of the direct producer from the means of production”.
As we remember, by the nationalization of the greater part of ownership of this goal failed to be achieved in any country in the world where such attempts were made. On the contrary, everywhere in the world in the twentieth century with the construction of socialism on the Soviet model, regardless of national specificities, the employee remained an employee. Changed only its owner and the employer. The place of a private owner took the public Manager.
If to speak about the Stalin era, which are now accepted to remember nostalgically, the position of the absolute majority of employees then deteriorated even in comparison with traditional capitalism. If anyone has forgotten, the vast majority of the population of the Soviet Union at that time — the peasants — were deprived not only of basic labour rights, in particular, have not been paid for their labor with money (after the war, the peasants worked not for money but for “work days” for “sticks” in the accounting books), but as a basic human right. Let me remind you that passports and with them the right of free movement within the country, the farmers received much later — only in 1974. Actually, and legally, from 1933 to 1974, peasants in the Soviet Union were serfs of the state.
In 1985, the hopes of those who considered themselves to be democratic (true, and so on) a socialist, a Communist, broke out with renewed vigor. It seemed, needed to do little to democratize the political superstructure, hold normal elections and to transfer the means of production into the hands of workers (in management or property — it was a topic for discussion,so far, by the way, not completed) — and voila — we get real socialism. But it is in theory. In practice it was much more difficult…
By and large, you can’t blame Gorbachev, that he has not tried to carry out reform of socialism. Tried, and very much so. In his brief reign was, for example, there are two very important laws: on state enterprises and cooperative societies.
The essence of the first law adopted 30 June 1987, was that the Soviet enterprise was officially introduced cost accounting, but, more importantly, the position of Director was elected. This election was an alternative, each candidate offered their program, the labor collective was first elected a Director of several candidates by secret or open ballot (at the discretion of the staff) for a period of 5 years. The term, however, was clearly too great of an American President is elected for 4 years. For five years the Director could “grow” into his chair, but more on that below.
The second law on cooperatives, enacted in may 1988, it seemed, revived the ideas of the late Lenin, who proclaimed after the civil war, “change our entire viewpoint on socialism” and operauser on the broadest possible development of cooperation.
Why these reforms have not worked? In my opinion, there are three explanations of this historical failure.
First, among the supporters of socialist development there are diametrically opposed views on what should constitute the “right” socialism. The problem was that for most of them, then constituted “the main political force of Soviet society” — CPSU, “right” and socialism was associated only with tough policy planning of the national economy, state property, managed by state officials and managers, and one-party political system. Direct manufacturer of this system have been anybody, and so no one was left.
Those who are meant by the “right” socialism is the transfer of enterprises in the management of their labour collectives, representatives of the “Soviet” “communism” has always been perceived as suspicious and petty-bourgeois element per se as strongly rejected.
The second reason for the failure of the socialist reformers was that by the end of 1980-ies in the USSR was formed wide enough protoberberines and just bourgeois stratum of people. It included a considerable part of the Soviet nomenklatura bureaucracy, managers and shadow. This layer began to form almost from the beginning of 1920-ies, that is, immediately after the victory of the Bolsheviks in the Civil war, was strengthened after the “collectivization” of agriculture in the early 1930-ies and reached its apogee in the years 1950-80.
In other words, this broad and influential protoberberines layer in the Soviet Union was not generated by the secret enemies of the Soviet power, not “traitors”, about which so like to rant, the current heirs of the Communist party, and his own economic system.
What exactly was the issue? The fact that the system of state ownership involves establishing a powerful bureaucracy. Such a device at all times and in all countries have always been built on a strictly hierarchical manner — from the bottom up. Otherwise he cannot function, because otherwise it will be violation of the principle of centralized management and whole system will collapse (which is what happened in the USSR in the late 1980’s-early 90-ies). In the Soviet Union this system, as is known, was called the principle of “democratic centralism”, in tsarist Russia, she is called autocracy, but that’s not the title, but in fact. Then, as they say, sticks and stones …
In the Soviet Union and the only source of wealth, and promotion in the bureaucracy was a career in a state enterprise or state (party) service. Moreover, in the system was where private property is abolished, the career state bureaucrat for the vast majority of the population were, in fact, the only legalized business.
The word “ambitious” in the Soviet Union was a dirty word because it meant then, and now, a desire for personal and not for the common good. That is extremely selfish goals. Careerists scolded for it and ridiculed Soviet propaganda and Soviet art, but how to fight this evil in fact, no one knew. Because fighting with him meant fighting with the system.
Lenin called careerists “scoundrels and crooks”, worthy only of execution. He rightly feared (and not just writing about this) that in the sole ruling party after its victory in the Civil war a broad stream rush these “scoundrels and crooks”. However, the response to them offered a completely utopian and ineffective — either close the admission to the party for new people at all, or to “dilute” professional managers unspoiled workers “on the bench”.
She and the other measure could only be temporary and will not solve the problem of careerism in principle. The closing party on the admission of new members was broken by Stalin, who immediately after the death of Lenin in 1924, proclaimed the so-called “Lenin’s call”, in which it flooded hundreds of thousands of pristine (including, and from any theoretical knowledge and even secondary education), but ambitious workers and peasants. They are highly diluted with a thin layer of the old party intelligentsia, who still remember “why it all began”.
It is this mass, all the time replenished with new recruits, and became the basis of the Soviet party and state nomenklatura. That is the many millions of Soviet bureaucracy became the basis for aging the new bourgeoisie, since it was initially guided by purely personal, selfish, and mean, in essence, the bourgeois interest. Contributed to the disadvantages of a purely centralized national economy of the USSR.
Ultra-high level of centralization and the rigidity of the centrally planned system did not allow to respond quickly to “the increasing demands of Soviet citizens” and led to an endless shortage of basic commodities, the lack of retail space and long queues in shops.
This inevitably led to the emergence of “black market” and increasing role as producers of scarce goods (more precisely, of Directors of the respective industries) and those who “sat” on their distribution — Directors of shops and warehouses. There are people around the country, there were at least tens of thousands and they acted, though still illegal, but in quite market conditions.
That is, in contrast to the nomenclature, source of income which was mainly public salary, for the new “black entrepreneurs”, many of which, again, was quite a formal Directors of Soviet enterprises and shops, increasing the value of acquired real income from their “business”. On small “black marketeers”, those who illegally moonlighting as a taxi driver in his car, the millions of peasants, quite officially traded their own and others ‘ products on the kolkhoz markets, and say nothing — in the 1950s-80s years all these types of illegal and semi-legal entrepreneurial activity in the USSR was quite developed.
Therefore, co-operation, allowed in 1988, almost immediately became the official cover and method of legalization of all types of private businesses — both new and already existed in fact. In reality, all of the above social layers were not even protopurusha, and most of this bourgeoisie, which grew louder and louder declared its not only economic, but also political rights.
The third reason for the failure of socialist reforms in the USSR under Gorbachev was, say, a bad background of Soviet socialism. Too bloody and ruthless he was, too many of the victims were worth. Yes, in the late 1980-ies he was already quite a vegetarian, but any relief after these mass casualties, like in Stalin’s Soviet Union is always used as an opportunity to speak about them openly. With all the arising circumstances, which is expressed primarily in the rejection of all (including positive), which was associated with the adoption of this system.
It should be noted that the historical initiative in the late 1980-ies was not for socialism, which was drawn a heavy train of many mistakes and mass crimes. All that was connected with socialism in the public mind and especially in the minds of most intellectuals, caused mistrust. That is why all attempts of socialist reforms in the USSR in the late 1980s — early 90-ies were rejected and derided before it begins.
“Mankind, laughing, says goodbye to their past,” said Marx. It was so in the Soviet Union. Socialism here parted with laughter. The famous satirist about perestroika slogan “More socialism!”, publicly asked the audience: “What? Even more?! Yes, much much more!” Or the anecdote of the 1980s about the construction of socialism in the Sahara: “in the beginning you start running out of sand, and then it will disappear altogether”…
Old Soviet socialism was a thing of the past, and it was impossible to do. New layers of society generated its own advantages and disadvantages, blew up this society from the inside. That is why elected by the General meetings of labor collectives of the new Directors of enterprises, more fit in the market, have become active lobbyists for the repeal of the law under which they were elected, and “cooperators”, demanded the legalization of themselves as major shareholders of the new companies and banks…
Yes, as is usually the case with any reform, with dirty water and splashed the kid. These words, incidentally, told me not some Communist and human rights activist, liberal, head of the Committee “Civil assistance” Svetlana Gannushkina. But… there’s nothing to be done. Losing his head, hair do not cry.
The failure of the “socialist reforms” in the Soviet Union in the late 1980-ies are important to understand the fact that any society moves forward not only due to the desires and beliefs of individuals, but also because of the objective laws of its development. The return to capitalism has occurred in all former socialist countries, regardless of how calls itself the party currently in power there. It is necessary to recognize and understand the causes of the incident.
Undoubtedly, it’s a different kind of capitalism. But, while somewhere in China or Turkmenistan, political democracy is not at all where, as in Russia or Kazakhstan, is the place of its imitation, and it established a normal democratic Republic, the economy everywhere is dominated by private property and the market.