Book Review: The Soviet Union — in Facts and Figures

With a very glossy cover and 215 pages this book (published by Soviet News) is ludicrously cheap at 5s. It contains many facts and figures — and some fiction.

Among the facts are: the Soviet Union is the largest country in the world; the population is now 200,200,000, and the capital is Moscow, with 4,839,000 inhabitants. Whilst in the fiction department we are told that the Russian Revolution of 1917 was a “Socialist Revolution”; that “The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is a socialist state of workers and peasants”; and that all power in the U.S.S.R. belongs to the working people; and that:—

“The economic foundation of the U.S.S.R. is the Socialist system of economy and the Socialist ownership of the instruments and means of production.”—Article 4, Constitution of the U.S.S.R.’

But, The Soviet Union, In Facts and Figures, gives its readers ample evidence of the non-Socialist character of Soviet society. Ideas, attitudes and many institutions familiar to us in Western Europe and in America are also found in Soviet Russia, and are mentioned with pride in this book. Mention is made of the Armed Forces of the State “to defend the Soviet Union’s freedom, independence and security . . .” (p. 157). A large section of the book is given over to the “National Economy” — to the Five-year plans for economic development, capital investment, retail trading, foreign trade with other countries, the U.S.S.R. Chamber of Commerce, and the like.

Important sections on the Soviet monetary system, financial agencies, state budget, budget revenue (including profits in the national economy, taxes, etc.) and information on Soviet banks and credit systems, should be of interest to all readers of this journal.

Much useful information is given on the so-called trade unions of Russia; on the only legal political party— the Communist Party of the Soviet Union; on public education and scientific development; on literature and art; and on music, the cinema, the theatre and sport. There is also a brief survey of religious organisations, and in the section on the constitutional position of these religious organisations we are told that “The only instances when the Soviet State prohibits the formation of a religious body is if its doctrines or rites are cruel or a menace to society (for example, sects that preach self-torture. sects that call for a struggle against all forms of government, and so forth).” So the Canadian Dukhobors. who are returning to Russia after years of exile from their native land, had better look out!

Although far from telling the whole story, or giving all the facts and figures about the Soviet Union, this book can be recommended, especially to Socialists who are able to read between the lines; and who whilst recognising the great technical advances that have taken place in Russia, do not fall for the “Socialism in Russia” line of Communist mythology!

The Soviet Union In Fact and Figures tells us of a great industrial state, not unlike other great industrial states: and as such is quite a good 5s. worth.


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