'COLLECTIVE CONSUMPTION' DURING THE FIRST FIVE-YEAR PLAN - PROPAGANDA AND REALITY (A LITTLE KNOWN BOLSHEVIK ABSURDITY)
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In 1929 the Soviet Union embarked with great impetus upon the construction of a 'new' industrialized state. Soviet propaganda uninterruptedly reminded about the emergence of enormous industrial enterprises, built at a rapid rate. Bolshevik agitators incessantly stressed that modernisation is accompanied by a great improvement of the living standard enjoyed by workers and peasants. The construction of large enterprises was related to a growing number of workers in the cities. Since comrade Stalin was 'concerned with the welfare of each honest worker', the Party was to create the best possible work conditions and to take care of all amenities, including, obviously, food. The question of collective consumption (primarily in large workplace canteens) became an important element of Soviet propaganda, which treated it as one of the components of the progressing communisation of the country - the state provided the employee with everything and his only concern was to work 'at the frontline of socialist construction'. The fact that a state guarantees meals for workers is in no way unusual, but in the Soviet Union during the first five-year plan communal meals were envisaged as a dominating form that in time was supposed to totally replace traditional consumption, i. e. at home. Communist propagandists (the leading role being played by the daily 'Pravda') devised the notion that cooking at home, mainly by women, was a capitalist relic exerting an adverse impact on the Soviet economy - instead of cooking women should spend their time working in, e.g. factories or on the land (the kolkhoz, the sovkhoz). The propaganda image of canteens and the accomplishments of 'obshchestviennoe pitanie', as well as many other 'achievements of the Bolshevik paradise' did not come close to reality. The meals frequently did not meet the basic needs of the workers and in certain cases, by no means isolated, communal canteens were an outright mockery.
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