1990s >> 1994 >> no-1074-february-1994

50 Years Ago: Soviet Millionaires

A very great war produces, out of profound social tragedy, its mordant satirical humorists. This one is no exception: in addition to biting ironists of the Nat Gubbins school, “Yaffle,” and others, we may now acclaim one Reginald Bishop as the wittiest cynic of the day. With elephantine solemnity, Mr. Bishop has turned out a little booklet on “Soviet Millionaires” (“Soviet Millionaires,” Russia To-day. pamphlet. 2d.), in which he playfully pretends that he is “explaining” that they are the result of “the establishment of socialism in Russia in 1934” (p. 12).

 

The result is the funniest piece of satirical writing since this war broke out. For this we thank him very much.

 

How to do it! Mr. Bishop chides those who are shocked to hear of millionaires in Russia, and “to whom the very word millionaires represents an evil influence in society.” He points out that Russian millionaires are “only” rouble millionaires: they do not possess the equivalent of a million pounds sterling (p. 3). “But even were a rouble millionaire possessed of as much money as a sterling one, it would still not be anti-socialist. . . . because in the Soviet Union the millionaire has acquired his roubles by his own toil” (p. 3) . . .

 

We agree with the Daily Worker, wherein Mr. W. Holmes averred that Reg. Bishop has done very well in dealing with statements by “Hyde Park spouters.” that in Russia to-day the social system is one based on wage-labour and capital. The “Hyde Park spouter” is the Socialist Party platform and Mr. Bishop’s pamphlet is so good that it can be confidently recommended to any political sap who still swallows the guff about Socialism in Russia.

 

[From an article by “Horatio’ in the Socialist Standard. February 1944.]