[Marxism] Hammer and Tickle

Pance Stojkovski pance at rogers.com
Thu Jul 10 08:06:46 MDT 2008

-----Original Message-----
> Paula - Hammer and Tickle
>(this books is getting quite a few reviews right now)

The joke that best describes the failure of the Soviet
Union is this famous one:

"they pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work."

I think it gets to the essence of the Soviet project
and why it failed. I visited the USSR in the 1980s and
the lack of a sense of common ownership or any sense
of "working class communalism" in the socialist
country was glaringly obvious.

There were political posters proclaiming the latest
five-year plan - with slogans like "lets fulfill the
five year plan in four years!". But the most important
thing for workers was to have and be seen with the
latest western t-shirt or shopping bag.

I met a Russian who told me an example of the reason
why their system could not work. The Central Committee
in its wisdom had decreed that railway workers would
be paid by the number of kilometers traveled. So, as
the story goes, this one particular state enterprise
bought some top of the line refrigerated railway cars
and sent them traveling around the USSR. Of coarse,
you can see the punch line - the workers were paid
regardless of what (if anything) these refrigerated
cars were transporting. To this day, I still have this
image of an empty refrigerated railway car going
through the Caucasus.


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