Soviet Statistics

Here is a small illustration of why the statistics produced by Communist countries cannot be taken at face value. Please look at this table of changes in the monthly salaries that different groups of Soviet people received between 1965-1973:

soviet salaries

What you might conclude from this table as a person unfamiliar with the Soviet reality is that the government made efforts to ensure that bureaucrats’ salaries didn’t grow as much as those of the working people. You might even admire a system that prioritized the interests of the working people over those of the Party’s paper pushers. If you conclude that, however, you will be completely wrong.

The actual salaries of the Soviet apparatchiks (meaning the amount of money they were paid every month) were not that huge. However, money in the USSR was kind of worthless anyways because there wasn’t anything to buy. What made the positions in the state apparatus so coveted was the great number of perks that accompanied them and made higher salaries unnecessary. Free high-quality housing, a free car with a driver, regular food packages with all sorts of delicacies that you couldn’t buy for any amount of money, free stays at resorts, free travel, good books, free country houses – all of this was provided to the Soviet apparatchiks by the government.

This system allowed to ensure that an apparatchik would be prepared to stoop to the most disgusting behaviors in order to preserve his job. Losing it would mean having to give up the entire lifestyle provided for free by the state. The bureaucrats who lost their jobs would discover, to their extreme amazement, that they owned absolutely nothing. Losing a job would not just mean the loss of a salary. It would entail the loss of everything the apparatchik had become used to enjoying.

Numbers mean nothing by themselves until you look at the reality that produces them.

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8 thoughts on “Soviet Statistics”

  1. Haven’t been here in a while … I’ve always appreciated your passion and your way of imparting such important information. The produced reality is important to think about … Digging this now …

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      1. Thanks Clarissa … you know crazy chicks should unite! We might not always AGREE, and sometimes we do… the important thing is that we have the power to articulate our thoughts and feelings … and that’s what I’ve always appreciated about your blog … keep on keepin’ on! 🙂

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  2. I love the snowfall effect on your blog, Clarissa. It gives it a timely touch to it.

    Anyways, I knew I couldn’t take a self-proclaimed Maoist like that Rebel Maoist News fellow on YouTube who actually defends communism and Maoism seriously or anyone who says that communism has never been tried completely. He lives in Canada.

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    1. I hate to wish horrible things to people but I kind of wish somebody tried communism completely on that idiot. How I hate those well-meaning fools who just blabber stupidly without even trying to understand how offensive they are being.

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  3. You mean me or, do you mean the editors of the staff at “Problems of Communism”? Author: United States. Dept. of State. International Information Administration. Documentary Studies Section.; United States Information Agency.; United States Information Agency. Special Materials Section.; United States. International Communication Agency.
    Publisher: Washington, D.C. : Documentary Studies Section, International Information Administration, 1952-1992.
    Edition/Format: Journal, magazine : Periodical : National government publication : English

    The staff at “Problems of Communism” came up with the statistics. I have no reason to doubt their veracity. Perhaps, you do.

    As for what I said at my blog, I doubt that you read it, of if you did, you haven’t grasped it as a critique of the wage system in general and in this case, the Soviet wage system in particular eg.:

    One of the worst things about the Soviet wage system was the lack of freedom and power allowed the working class by the ruling party. This led to the typical dominance and submission social psychological character structure one sees in all class dominated societies. Dominance and submission is a dialectical tension against which the instinct to remove the collar from one’s neck continually batters. For example, unemployment was, for all intents and purposes non-existent, indeed, it was against the law to be unemployed. As the propaganda of ‘actually existing socialism’ was experienced in daily life as wage-slavery, the body politic moved increasingly over time toward a favourable view of the realities of the higher standard of living and civil liberties in what were officially labeled, ‘imperialist countries’, the industrially developed capitalist States. Thus, the much touted transition from, the CPSU version of socialism to, the New Jerusalem of the higher stage aka ‘communism’, came to be seen for what it was, a lie used to maintain the power and wealth privileges of those at the top of the Soviet wage system. If one was an astute wage-labourer in the USSR, one could readily see in the works of Marx and Engels (works widely available in the USSR) that there was no theorectical distinction made between what they termed ‘socialism’ and ‘communism’–the concepts were used interchangeably to mean a classless society where the collective product of labour was owned in common while production would be engaged in for use with wealth distributed on the basis of need. In fact, the abolition of the wage system and commodity production were Marx and Engels’ theoretical foundation of socialism/communism, viz: “With the seizing of the means of production by society production of commodities is done away with, and, simultaneously, the mastery of the product over the producer.”

    On top of this, the obvious contradiction of maintaining a political State and calling it ‘socialist’ added insult to injury, as Marx and Engels continually point out in their very own writings.

    “The people’s state has been flung in our teeth ad nauseam by the anarchists, although Marx’s anti-Proudhon piece and after it the Communist Manifesto declare outright that, with the introduction of the socialist order of society, the state will dissolve of itself and disappear. Now, since the state is merely a transitional institution of which use is made in the struggle, in the revolution, to keep down one’s enemies by force, it is utter nonsense to speak of a free people’s state; so long as the proletariat still makes use of the state, it makes use of it, not for the purpose of freedom, but of keeping down its enemies and, as soon as there can be any question of freedom, the state as such ceases to exist. We would therefore suggest that Gemeinwesen [“commonalty”] be universally substituted for state; it is a good old German word that can very well do service for the French “Commune.”” Engels’ letter to Bebel, 1875

    In the world at large, the capitalist propaganda about ‘socialism’ meaning a system of bureaucratic State despotism more and more took on the mantle of THE TRUTH thus feeding right-wing conservatism both inside and outside the USSR. At the same time, Soviet anti-capitalist propaganda increasingly came to be seen as, a BIG LIE both within and without the USSR and other ‘actually existing’ socialist States. The result of all this all too obvious attempt to manipulate workers’ consciousness was the more or less unanimous embrace by the workers of capitalism in M-L State after M-L State in the historical approach to 1989.

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    1. “The staff at “Problems of Communism” came up with the statistics. I have no reason to doubt their veracity. Perhaps, you do.”

      – Have you read my post? Where exactly did I doubt the veracity of the stats? All I did was share information that can help one understand the stats.

      “As for what I said at my blog, I doubt that you read it, of if you did, you haven’t grasped it as a critique of the wage system in general and in this case, the Soviet wage system in particular eg”

      – I have no idea what makes you so angry. My post was not meant to be a criticism of you. I didn’t say a single bad word about you in it. The post was addressed to a regular reader of mine who recently asked me a question about statistical evidence from Communist countries. I’m sorry if I offended you but, believe me, that was not my goal.

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