On June 1st, 1972, it will be ten years since the date of the raising of the prices of products of greatest necessity. Ten years ago, in the decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR, it was announced:
“The raising of prices of meat and meat products, and also of butter, is a temporary measure. The implementation of the measures laid down by the March (1962) Plenum of the Central Committee will make it possible, in the not-distant future, to lower the prices of agricultural produce. It will undoubtedly be possible in the immediate future to lower retail prices.”
It is now clear to the people that this was the usual “promise” — the usual barefaced lie of the Kremlin bosses.
According to the newspaper reports, during these ten years our people has already successfully accomplished the resolutions of ten Plenums and two Five-Year Plans. But prices not only do not come down: they continue to rise. The concealed price rises in food products and in manufactured goods goes on by means of new packs, lowered quality, sticking on new labels and so on.
Remember the fuss over the resolution of the 22nd Congress in 1961 on The Programme of the Construction of Communism! The authors of that fantastic pseudo-programme promised us: “In the first decade (i.e. toward 1970) all strata of Soviet people will be able to enjoy affluence and will be provided for materially . . . there will be an end to the housing shortage”. There was a plethora of statistics, from which it followed that nowadays we should surely be standing on the threshold of paradise of material affluence.
But instead of that deceitfully promised prosperity, life in our country gets more costly all the time. During the last ten years prices have gone up on nearly all goods by 20-30 per cent, house construction has been cut back by nearly 20 per cent and the co-operatives are made to bear an ever-increasing load.
Esteemed citizens! Our country has the richest resources in the world, and is the second greatest industrial power. But as for their living standards, the workers of the USSR occupy only the 26th place in the world and among developed countries they are at the bottom of the scale. Our worker can buy with his pay packet 7-12 times less than can the American, English or West German worker. The average size of a flat for our worker is 2-5 times less than for the workers of those countries. Cars are owned by 80 per cent of American families, 60 per cent of British families and 50 per cent of German families — but in the USSR less than 0.1 per cent of families have a car. In the USSR the scales of pensions, sickness benefit, disablement benefit and maternity benefit are negligible in comparison with Western countries. And of all these countries the workers of the USSR get the shortest paid holidays.
The unemployed Western worker can buy with his unemployment benefit 2-4 times more goods than our industrial or white-collar worker can get with his pay-packet. Yes, and what’s more the number of unemployed in the West does not exceed 2-4 per cent of the workers. Not for nothing do the Kremlin bosses completely jam all foreign radio transmissions. Even Hitler didn’t do that in peacetime!
Esteemed citizens! It’s not too well known that in our country the overwhelming majority of goods sold are sold at a price 2-4 times dearer than it costs the State to produce and market them (including the profits of the enterprises). Our economists have calculated that the take-home pay of the Soviet industrial worker is about one-third of his real earnings. And besides these secret withholdings and deductions our worker still pays taxes.
Where then do they go — these enormous secret revenues from our and your labour?
These enormous secret revenues are appropriated for themselves, stealthily and openly, by the Kremlin bosses and their servants — the big and middle bosses of the Partocracy, the apparatchiki. etc. These revenues go on their life of luxury, their dachas, villas in the resorts, limousines, or their huge salaries and bonuses, on their share-outs — concealed from the people, on their special resorts, clinics and nursing homes . . . The Kremlin bosses and their hangers-on live better and richer than many Tsarist noblemen did before the Revolution — and yet they call themselves “the vanguard of the Soviet people”, its servants!
Lucky servants! They fleece their “master”, the worker, three times over . . . while the “master and missus” of the country — the labourers and workers — can hardly make ends meet.
The second way the people’s wealth leaks away is overseas. The Kremlin bosses carry on trade not in the interests of the people but in their own political-adventurist interests, in the interests of attaining their own world domination. In return for their aid “without strings attached’’, given at the cost of a burden laid on the backs of their own people, they rush on to introduce into other countries exactly the same sort of cabal as in their own country.
The Kremlinites plunder their own people so as to export abroad huge quantities of top-quality goods: meat, fats, fish, caviar, grain, wool cloths, skins, expensive raw materials and other goods in short supply. At the same time we are obliged to spend from our already scanty gold reserves to buy grain from Canada. Huge resources are squandered by the Kremlinites on arms deliveries to so-called “freedom fighters”, on propping up dictators who provide military bases for the USSR (Egypt, Syria, Cuba, etc.), on maintaining an enormous overseas spy network and on bribing foreigners who might be “useful” to our rulers. Billions of roubles were spent on the Mao Tse-Tung régime: now this regime is our dreaded enemy. Helping to arm the DRV in its attempt to occupy South Vietnam costs 3 million roubles a day, Ouba gets 1 million a day and the Arabs get 1.5 million a day.
The Kremlinites spare nothing. The wealth in Russia is to keep them in clover till the year dot.
Esteemed citizens! There is no socialism in our country! It isn’t socialism when each and every parasite and boss in the country has got 20 times more than he would have in Tsarist Russia! It isn’t socialism when the average pay of a workers is 100 roubles, while the income of a big boss is several thousand roubles monthly! It isn’t socialism when the people are in fact deprived of the most elementary rights: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to strike and so on! It is precisely the absence of these rights which in fact gives the Kremlin bosses the opportunity to rob and oppress our people pitilessly, both secretly and openly.
And it is not towards communism that we are heading: all that is idle talk. Our system is state capitalism — the very worst, the most wretched political system possible which enables the rulers to adjust all the prices and incomes of the country without control and to perpetrate unbridled acts of arbitrariness and force. In Germany with Hitler’s “socialism” there was a similar form of unbridled and ruthlessly rapacious administration.
Esteemed citizens! Our rulers are ruining the country. They are destroying its economy and agriculture. They are creating dangerous international tension.
Dear citizens! The workers of Western countries attained their high standards of living and wide political freedom by struggle. The proven weapons of the struggle are the strike and demonstration. In December 1970, when price rises were announced in Poland, the workers in the towns of Gdansk, Gdynia, Szczecin, etc. set up liaison committees, called a strike and came out in street demonstrations. As a result Gomulka was dismissed, and the Central Committee and the government were replaced almost in their entirety. The new secretary of the Central Committee, Gierek, revoked the price rises, raised wages and pensions, and relaxed the censorship.
Already the people of our country are rising to the struggle. During the last ten years there have been strikes, demonstrations and other uprisings in a number of cities: there have been strikes in factories in Novocherkassk, Temir-Tau, Chirchik, Leningrad and Moscow. And recently there have been numerous uprisings of the workers of Kaunas. Ever more frequently there are protest demonstrations by many of our writers, distinguished scientists, government employees and workers. They demand freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of the unions, the improvement of people’s living conditions and they demand that an account be rendered to the people. They are persecuted, declared “apostates” and thrown into prison. They are locked up because they demonstrate almost singlehanded.Esteemed citizens! Fight for your rights and for an improvement of your life. Defend one another: one for all and all for one. It is only by means of struggle that we can get a change for the better. If we are not going to struggle, then we will more and more be reduced to mere slaves of the bosses of the CPSU — mere working cattle. So long live freedom and democracy!
Spread the word with a leaflet to as many people as possible.
(Translated for the Socialist Standard by Charmian Skelton.)
“Wealth is in effect the property of an individual or group if that individual or that group has a right in fact against the other members of society to use it or to control its use. A class is made up of people who are in the same position with regard to the ownership and use of the means of wealth-production and distribution. One class has a monopoly over these means if the rest of society are allowed access to them only on terms imposed by the group in control. This monopoly does not have to be legally recognised though in fact, as in Britain, this is generally so. Here the privileged minority, the capitalist class, have titles backed by law to the wealth they own. In Russia the ownership of the privileged minority is generally not given formal legal backing, but, as in Britain, they maintain their monopoly through control over the machinery of government. They occupy the top posts in the party, government, industry and the armed forces. Their ownership of the means of production is not individual but collective: they own as a class. Historically this is not a new development as is shown by the position of the Catholic church in feudal times. The privileged class in Russia draw their ‘property income’ in the form of bloated salaries, bonuses, large monetary prizes’ awarded by the government, and other perks attaching to the top posts.”
—from Russia 1917-1967 A Socialist Analysis, an exploration of how state capitalism came to Russia. Send 10p to Dept. R., The Socialist Party of Great Britain, 52 Clapham High Street, London, SW4.