The Last Years of the Soviet Empire: Snapshots from 1985-1991

By Vladimir Shlapentokh; Neil F. O'Donnell | Go to book overview

MELONS, RUBLES, AND THE COMRADES'
WORK ETHIC
AUGUST 1987

This snapshot introduces another of the main actors in Soviet political
theater: the workers. This snapshot suggests that, contrary to the assertions
of official Soviet propaganda, the workers were not a single, homogenous
group. It also suggests that some groups of workers were more hostile to
reform than others. Examine this snapshot carefully, because its subjects
will reappear later.

A Soviet newspaper recently ran a story that amazed even those accustomed to the revelations of glasnost: It reported that a collective farm in the Poltava region of the Ukraine actually hires Armenian and Korean workers to grow and harvest melons.

Soviet leaders have reluctantly accepted the need to hire some freelance workers. In fact, freelancers, rather than state-run firms, do the bulk of work in some industries in selected regions. Freelance builders, for example, do the bulk of rural construction. Still, hiring private farm workers is something new--particularly in the Ukrainian heartland, which has a surplus of labor.

The local farmers reportedly resent the presence of the "newcomers"-- in particular, they object to "aliens" being able to earn so much money. Of course, they also object to any suggestion that they should have to work as hard as the outsiders. In general, the local farmers report being satisfied with what they have, and see no advantage in working harder to earn more money.

The farming story helps illustrate why the Soviet economy continues to flounder under Gorbachev. The Soviet leadership wants people to work harder and improve productivity, and is willing to pay them to do so. Many Soviet people, however, already enjoy a reasonable standard of living (compared to the past), and see no reason to pick up the pace.

In fact, when Gorbachev became General Secretary in March, 97 percent of urban families and 90 percent of rural households had television sets; 100 percent of urban residents and 70 percent of villagers had refrigerators. Moreover, 14 percent of people in the cities and 15 percent of those in the countryside owned cars. Thus, Mr. Gorbachev faces a Soviet population that, despite occasional shortages of material goods, has, in many respects, attained a standard of living resembling that in other developed countries.

____________________
This article appeared in "The Globe & Mail" on December 22, 1987, and as Soviet People Too Rich for Reform in The Wall Street Journal on November 23, 1987.

-58-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Last Years of the Soviet Empire: Snapshots from 1985-1991
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 223

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.