Rod Dreher tells a story of a Soviet guy whose toilet bowl cracked and he had to go all the way from Ukraine to the Far East of Russia to get a new one:
We all have a plethora of toilet stories from the USSR. My sister and I were swapping ours on our trip to Spain because there is no Soviet person who hasn’t been traumatized in some way (and I don’t use this word lightly) during an attempt to effectuate some regular bodily function. (Women had the additional burden of menstruation, which made one detest being a woman, the forced public gynecological exams, and the reduction of contraception options to easy, free and extremely painful abortion).
A system that makes a man have to fly 17 hours one way to get a new toilet through back channel connections, then ride all the way back home sitting on top of that commode — that’s not a system that works.
But he’s mistaken. The Soviet toilet issues were so ubiquitous precisely because the system worked. The man sitting on a commode during a transcontinental flight was evidence that the system worked. It worked the way it was supposed to. It fed on keeping people in a state of constant humiliation. It fed on destroying human dignity. This is why we never had doors on public toilets. Try using the toilet in full view of your co-workers for a couple of months and observe how your feelings about them and yourself change.
When the most basic functions of the human body open you up to humiliation, you live in a state of constant awareness that all your claims to dignity are pathetic. You are nothing but an animal, a sack of shit and piss. There’s nothing more to you than that. So you should aspire to nothing more than the animal comforts of keeping your physical body reasonably protected from harm.
The whole Soviet system was set up to keep reminding people that they are sad, confused, scared cattle. And once you believe that there’s nothing to existence than searching for a degree of bodily comfort, there’s no baseness you wouldn’t stoop to in order to scratch out a somewhat physically comfortable life for yourself.
And that’s exactly what happened.