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Dossier. Histoires économiques de l’Union soviétique

Economic histories of the Soviet Union

Introduction
Juliette Cadiot, Sophie Lambroschini et Anne O’Donnell
Traduction de Sophie Lambroschini
p. 23-34
Cet article est une traduction de :
Histoires économiques de l’Union soviétique [fr]

Texte intégral

Soviet material culture

  • 1 Within the framework of the New-York University – Paris Sciences & Lettres International Collaborat (...)

1The articles in this special issue are the result of two conferences held at New York University (NYU) and at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), which brought together scholars to discuss how to write the economic history of the Soviet Union, considering the teachings of other social sciences as well as the history of material culture under socialism.1 Studies of everyday life have made it possible to explore the plurality of ways of producing and consuming in contexts of scarcity until the 1950s, and then of shortages and amid the rise of Soviet consumerism in the following period. Without challenging the singularity of the Soviet Union’s non-market economy, these works reflect the diversity of its economic reality and the experiences of its inhabitants—in times of crisis and revolution, but also in periods of stability and reform, which are more particularly represented in the articles in this issue.

  • 2 Brandon M Schechter, The Stuff of Soldiers : A History of the Red Army in World War II Through Obje (...)

2The context of extreme crises of the revolution is studied in this issue by Anne O’Donnell and was discussed at the New York conference by Brandon Schechter and Masha Cerovic through an exploration of material culture in total war (1941-1945). Both Brandon Schechter, on the material culture of the soldiers of the Red Army, and Masha Cerovic, on the sensitive environment of the Belarusian partisans, have shown the utility of looking at everyday life to access the experiences of war.2 Both also noted a strengthening of state control over the economy through its militarization: goods gained in value, their distribution was the object of reinforced attention by the presence of the army. But possessions lost all stability, entering into a continuum of confiscation, transfer, predation and destruction. Informal exchanges in the form of the black market exploded. O’Donnell notes a similar process in the immediate post-revolutionary period.

  • 3 Kristy Ironside, A Full-Value Ruble: The Promise of Prosperity in the Postwar Soviet Union (Harvard (...)
  • 4 Alexandra Oberländer, “Hatching money: The political economy of eggs in the 1960s,” Cahiers du Mon (...)

3Already in the 1930s, the slogan of a “better life” was introduced into Stalin’s discourse. It broke with the ideal of revolutionary sobriety, with the realities of famine, poverty, and deficit, to offer the hope of prosperity. But the implementation of this new policy had to wait two decades until after the shock of the human and physical destruction of the Second World War had been absorbed. Picking up the “better life” principle led the Soviet government to abandon rationing and to introduce a monetary reform in 1947 linked with an almost continuous decline in consumer prices; investments in defense and major projects remained untouched. The same principle extended into a policy of investment in consumer goods under Nikita Khrushchev.3 Even then, however, in the little monetized countryside, in-kind exchange channels served as substitutes for money in times of peace and growth. In some provinces, eggs became currency, required to pay for goods distributed by state stores, as Alexandra Oberländer has analyzed in a recent article in Cahiers du Monde russe.4 The ideal of prosperity came up against the reality of a society confronted with poverty, an economy plagued by multiple dysfunctions in production and distribution, and low labor productivity. The individual and collective practices of informal exchange (blat) and sale outside the state circuits (spekuliatsiia), of pilfering and theft at different scales persists throughout the Soviet period. These phenomena relate to the cultural dimensions of the Soviet experience, characteristic of a dysfunctional economy of squandered resources with its stocks of materials and equipment useless because unused (except by pilferers), its warehouses of defective consumer goods, its unfinished buildings, and its waste. These served as resources in the planned economy by becoming the objects of trafficking, as Oleg Khlevniuk describes in an article published in this issue. Accommodations and bricolage often appear as an inverted reflection of the administered and militarized economy. This makes it necessary to establish a narrative that could describe in a unitary flow the intentions of Soviet policymakers to rationalize the economy and also the disordered, incoherent, and autonomous social realities of ordinary Soviets struggling with poverty and searching for a better life.

A hierarchy of poverty

  • 5 Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation (P.: Gallimard, 2009, 1st ed. in 1944).
  • 6 Elena Osokina, Stalin’s Quest for Gold: The Torgsin Hard Currency Shops and Soviet Industrializatio (...)
  • 7 Oleg Vital´evich Khlevniuk, Korporatsiia samozvantsev: tenevaia ekonomika i korruptsiia v stalinsko (...)

4Following the pioneering analyses of Karl Polanyi5 sociologists and historians have shown the ways in which non-market, bureaucratic economic systems have produced singular forms of social organization and hierarchies. The redistributive capacity of the state in the allocation of resources and goods, especially in times of shortages, in a context of scarcity and rationing, allowed it to establish a hierarchy of entitled persons and to produce a system of privileges, of inequality and poverty, sometimes tinged with corruption, as shown by the scholarship of Elena Osokina and Anna Ivanova.6 These social hierarchies led to the creation of a stratum of the well-off that was soon identified with the nomenklatura, the social stability of which was reinforced in the post-war period. This appropriation of state resources by a privileged group was heightened by the persistence of a private market and personal property. The hierarchy of service to the State and the Party was coupled with forms of illicit monopolization (samosnabzhenie). Until recently these had been less explored in Soviet historiography. In his latest book, Oleg Khlevniuk suggests a “privatization” of the Soviet economy by the nomenklatura.7 He argues that the possibilities of private appropriation, first tolerated and limited (then authorized and encouraged from the late 1980s onwards) added to the inequalities produced by the centrally administered Soviet system.

  • 8 Isabelle Ohayon, “Honorer ses morts en socialisme, une économie de l’islam kazakh (1960-1980),” Rev (...)
  • 9 On the subject of the preservation of private real estate ownership in Soviet Russia, see Mark Smit (...)
  • 10 Filip Novokmet, Thomas Piketty, Gabriel Zucman, “From Soviets to Oligarchs: Inequality and property (...)

5The issue of the distribution of state property leads to discussions of its privatized use by the figure of the Soviet “capitalist entrepreneurs.” At the New York conference, Isabelle Ohayon examined how private agricultural production and interpersonal skills were mobilized to meet the social obligations of spending on weddings and funerals. She analyzes these private ceremonies also as levers of redistribution and construction of social and political hierarchies in Kazakhstan.8 At the Paris conference, Nikolai Mitrokhin described the survival of a private real estate market throughout the Soviet period9. Filip Novokmet, for his part, has shown the differences in wealth produced by the extension of private property in Russia over the course of a century10, which led to the explosion of inequalities through the constitution of large private fortunes and an oligarchic elite. The study of the forms of appropriation of socialist property since the Stalinist period makes it possible to historicize the transfers of wealth between state property and private property, in a context of legal insecurity and centralization of redistributive power in the hands of political leaders. These phenomena still persist today in Russia.

Appropriation of state wealth, the underground economy, or who owns socialist property?

  • 11 Xenia A. Cherkaev, Gleaning for Communism, The Soviet Socialist Household in Theory and Practice (I (...)
  • 12 Juliette Cadiot, La société des voleurs: Propriété et socialisme sous Staline (P. : Éditions de (...)
  • 13 Khlevniuk, Korporatsiia samozvantsev, Riccardo Mario Cucciolla, “Legitimation through self- victimi (...)
  • 14 Juliette Cadiot, “L’affaire Hain : Kyiv, hiver 1952,” Cahiers du Monde russe, 59, 2-3 (2018) ; Khle (...)
  • 15 Yoram Gorlizki, Oleg Khlevniuk, Substate Dictatorship: Networks, Loyalty, and Institutional Change (...)

6Scholarship on forms of appropriation, use, and ownership of goods is increasing, bringing into play variations on the definition of property. One aspect concerns the respective places of the socialist property of the State and private property, termed personal property under the Soviet regime. While the economy of the Soviet Union was organized with legal tools, the effects of civil, administrative, commercial and criminal laws on the creation and stabilization of new socialist economic forms remain yet to be analyzed. In this issue, Anne O’Donnell examines one of the first large-scale transfers of property during the Revolution in cities, where not only immovable property, but also movable property, was seized in order to found a new communist social hierarchy. Anthropologist Xenia Cherkaev analyzes the property regime of late socialism, through the characters of the pilferer who seized the slogan of “socialist property – the property of the whole people” and made it into a reality of everyday life through a system of spontaneous, illicit, but ultimately tolerated redistribution.11 By focusing on the laws on the theft of socialist property under Stalin, Juliette Cadiot studies the legal tools established to control the behavior and economic wealth of Soviet people and to gather information on the real economy.12 The work on the shadow economy has also been enriched recently by Oleg Khlevniuk’s book, Riccardo Cucciolla’s research on major corruption cases in Central Asia, and James Heinzen’s work.13 These works highlight how microsocial analysis conducted at the level of a network of economic corruption can access core Soviet economic practices, and their ramifications in the political and administrative apparatus. Other case studies use the method at the microsocial level to give voice to other social actors such as the victims of these transfers of property: as in this issue, Anne O’Donnell on the dispossessed, the inhabitants of building number 3 on Sadovaia Chernogriazskaia Street; Juliette Cadiot on the factory manager Khain in Kyiv; Oleg Khlevniuk on the impostor Pavlenko; or James Heinzen in the case of the Kyrgyz garment factories.14 Artels, cooperatives, trade, or cotton production represent the social contexts for talented, active, but crooked entrepreneurs. Observations about the practices of Soviet business managers and the underground economy are now being updated through the study of judicial archives on criminal prosecutions and the archives of controlling institutions. This new research offers a more specific understanding of these practices, going back to the Stalinist period. It also gives a better picture of how they operated and of their relationship with political dynamics through studies of corruption, nepotism and patronage.15 These approaches constitute a method for studying economic crime that is otherwise difficult to access. These “extra-plan” activities, illicit or criminal, were by nature not visible in central planning documentation. They appear in the cracks of reports on economic dysfunction and sporadically in criminal cases which makes it difficult to draw more general conclusions about activities by-passing the planned economy.

The market

  • 16 Oleg V. Khlevniuk, “‘Tolkachi,’ Parallel´nye stimuly v stalinskoi ekonomicheskoi sisteme 1930e-1950 (...)

7The presence of the market in the Soviet administered economy could be felt in economic thought and practice even after the end of the New Economic Policy (NEP). Among the classical objects of study, one can mention the problems of scarcity and volatility of the workforce (turnover) and the measures aimed at stimulating socialist competition with symbolic or monetary bonuses, from the Stakhanovist movement to the Kosygin reforms. More technical aspects such as the role of market mechanisms in establishing prices in their theoretical and applied dimensions are the focus of the contributions by Anna Ivanova and Giovanni Cadioli in this issue. These studies demonstrate the emergence as well as the persistence of market mechanisms, pertaining to the law of supply and demand and to the use of conceptual tools derived from the market model, taking place in different spaces of transaction of the Soviet planned economy, such as trade and manufacturing. The kolkhoz markets, authorized in 1932, spring to mind here, along with the exchanges and barter that occurred between enterprises to ensure supply of raw materials, as well as inter-enterprise credit, negotiations about supplies, and the pervasive place of the black market in the everyday life of Soviet citizens. In this issue, Oleg Khlevniuk designates all these processes as “extraplan markets.” In a previous issue of Cahiers du Monde russe, he described the central, and partly illegal, role played by the tolkachi, broker-representatives of companies who handled relations with the procurement administrations.16 In this issue, Anna Ivanova analyses the distinction made at the end of the 1970s between everyday consumer goods and luxury goods—a distinction made no longer through logic of rationing, awarding privileged access to closed stores (torgsin, berëzki), but rather through a classic price policy that overtaxed luxury items.

Attempts at economic reforms

  • 17 Till Düppe and Ivan Boldyrev, eds., Economic Knowledge in Socialism, 1945-1989 (Durham: Duke Univer (...)
  • 18 Hereby we thank the three authors for their participation to the workshops in NYU and EHESS. Their (...)

8Some Soviet economists proposed reintroducing the tools of classical economics to regulate the socialist economy, to soften its defects, to amortize its costs and to better control transactions. These economists were anxious to build a new model of planned economy, even if it meant recognizing a place for the tools of the market economy, though not as the organizing principle of this economy. As a recent book edited by Till Düppe and Ivan Boldyrev, points out, the labels of “dogmatist, ideologist, reformer, rebel, victim” economists are not appropriate for understanding the evolution of Soviet economic thought when one focuses on its theorization and the context of its production.17 Money, prices, commodities, capital and labor, consumption, growth, property, taxes, debts, contracts, the balance sheet (khozsraschet), the basic concepts and categories of classical economic thought and policy, were the objects of intense debate and constant reformulation. These helped to shape not only the Soviet experience, but the trajectory of the global economy. The ideas of Yakov Kronrod (studied by Yakov Feygin), Yurii Yaremenko (studied by Adam E. Leeds) or Emmanuil Braverman (studied by Olessia Kirtchik), economists of the 1960s-1980s, cannot be reduced to an opposition between orthodox and reformists.18 In his article, Giovanni Cadioli focuses on the previous generation of economists, the director of the Gosplan, Nikolai Alekseevich Voznesenskii, and his attempt to theorize the proper use of “economic levers” borrowed from the market economy to improve planning at the end of the 1940s. As Oleg Khlevniuk explores in his article, facets of this problem appeared with sharp clarity in the lobbying practices of ministries and branches, as they sought to balance the political imperative demanding a break with the market against the competitive dynamics of Soviet institutional life. Because of these pressures the plan constantly had to be updated. If we open the black box of the functioning and thinking of the Gosplan planners, we observe that the techniques of constructing indices and regulations based on classical economics were used in an effort to improve the plan. The innovations and the increasingly advanced research achieved by economists around problems of control, in mathematical rationalization and cybernetics draw Soviet economics (however marginally) into a globalized discussion in theoretical economics. This research draws our attention to the ways in which ideology, administrative regulations, and lived economies led to a reformulation of policies, methods, indicators, and concepts, which aimed not only to encompass socialist economic practices, but also to offer an alternative model of development to the world.

  • 19 On this topic, Nathalie Moine, “‘Mesurer le niveau de vie.’ Administration statistique et politique (...)

9The question of knowing how state agencies collected information about economic practices is crucial to understanding how Soviet economic conceptions were integrated not only into Marxist canons, but into Soviet and/or globalized social, cultural and political systems. Information about the real, shadow economy was secret and unsystematized even under Brezhnev. On the other hand, as Kristy Ironside shows in this issue, statistics on household budgets,19 operated as a distorted and invented mirror of what Soviet consumption was supposed to resemble. They were advertised, even propagandized, in order to give credence to the fiction of Soviet prosperity on a par with the Western world.

The necessary persistence of economic relations with capitalist countries

  • 20 Etienne Forestier-Peyrat et Kristy Ironside, “The Communist World of Public Debt (1917-1991): The F (...)
  • 21 Sergey Ledenev, “Le pétrole et la politique extérieure soviétique (1918-1945): la naissance d’une s (...)
  • 22 Elisabeth Banks, “Socialist Internationalism between the Soviet Union and Mozambique, 1962-1991,” P (...)

10The relationship to the market, to market logics and to market tools, is to be distinguished from the relations maintained by the Soviet Union with the capitalist world. Although the Soviet Union kept itself apart from the latter, according to the formula of the “besieged fortress” and later within the framework of the Cold War and the struggle for hegemony waged against the capitalist model, it nevertheless had to deal with the existence of powerful market economies that regulated international trade outside its territory and sphere of influence. Etienne Peyrat and Kristy Ironside have thus shown how the sources of public debt in the communist countries followed trajectories identical to those of other so-called capitalist countries.20 Sophie Lambroschini describes how Soviet administrators learned to think and act like capitalists in order to recover currency for the Soviet state. Sergey Ledenev, who presented on the subject of the oil market at the beginning of the Soviet regime,21 Betty Banks, who worked on the relations between the USSR and Mozambique since the 1960s,22 as well as Sophie Lambroschini in this issue, have all investigated the integration of the Soviet Union in the networks of international trade and globalized financial transactions. In these contexts, Soviet economic leaders sometimes had to adapt and integrate the tools and mechanisms of the market economy as well as associate with capitalists. Sophie Lambroschini thus explores the role and practices of the bankers of sovzagranbank, the Soviet banks operating abroad in Western market economies. These managers were prompted to speculate on international financial markets and to experience capitalism in its least regulated version on the international offshore capital markets in the 1970s and 1980s.

11The discussions by post-war economists of a possible convergence between capitalist and socialist models in the last half of the 20th century, notably around the same imperative of economic growth, resource extraction, “fair” redistribution and the expansion of household consumption (see the model of planning, price control and social rights) as it was discussed by post-war economists was left beyond the scope of this issue. Our purpose was rather to account for the Soviet experience within the framework of an ideology that demanded that the market, supply and demand, should not define the economic organization of the country and that capital accumulation should not fall into the hands of private actors. We show that the instruments of control and repression used in the service of this policy were accompanied by a certain tolerance, even immunity for the nomenklatura, leaving Soviet society the possibility of building its autonomy in the economic sphere of everyday life.

12This introduction outlines the multiple connections between approaches and themes coming from different analytical frameworks, and which are rarely debated in a truly interdisciplinary manner. The two workshops in New York and Paris eased such a discussion. They showed the plurality of directions taken by the histories of the Soviet economy, a dynamic field embracing this disciplinary diversity of methods and themes.

13For this special issue of Cahiers du Monde russe, the articles represent two thematic perspectives. The first considers the circulation of objects and the consumption of Soviet society. The second studies the liminal zones, the limes, of Soviet planning and their connections with markets and capitalism.

Negotiations, adjustments and mediation

14The articles focus on three types of actors operating in the socialist economy as it was imagined: ideological authorities, administrative agents, and the citizen-consumer. They interact indirectly in a conversation about how to define socialist property (O’Donnell), price formation (Cadioli, Ivanova), the composition of budgets (Ironside), or management techniques and forms (Lambroschini, Khlevniuk). The political leadership had the final say in deciding what socialism was (Cadioli traces Stalin’s involvement in the post-war preparation of the political economy textbook). At the same time, the leadership balanced ideological goals against their feasibility and acceptability to economic agents on the ground. In the aftermath of the war, as Cadioli, Ironside, and Ivanova show, the tensions surrounding attempts at economic reform intensified. Ivanova and Lambroschini show how, from the second half of the 1980s onwards, the systemic economic crisis further widened the gap between policies still conceived as socialist and those that tended to underline the problems of the planned economy and finally challenged it. The question of reforms also appeared as a response to popular discontent, expressed through various channels, but in an increasingly audible manner, throughout the period.

Tensions in the implementation of the socialist project

15The articles in this issue thus highlight the constant tension between economic reality and the revolutionary or socialist project. In her article, Anne O’Donnell describes the expropriation of apartments in the major cities from 1917 to 1923, and how in the movement of the revolution, these were carried out through a multiplication of procedures and authority figures who arrogated to themselves the right to take, to define what to take, and to redistribute the property. The boundaries between expropriation, confiscation, requisition and theft were blurred, and it was not until the Civil Code of 1922 that the law gave clear definitions and the “bacchanal of seizures” slowed down. In Petrograd and Moscow, and in the provincial cities, it was the municipal authorities who undertook these property transfers. They also included the movable property taken from the apartments that were being municipalized and divided. Anne O’Donnell shows how the central Bolshevik authorities quickly attempted to frame and control the agents speaking on behalf of the new state. In the process they created an archive that makes it possible to track the seizure operations by registering the complaints of dispossessed citizens who, in order to recover property and objects, challenged their ascription as bourgeois or “parasites,” pointing out procedural and inventory errors of the confiscatorial troiki. Caught between two expectations – revolutionary and social, acceptable housing for the proletariat and expropriation of the bourgeois-parasites – the state readjusted its own definition of private property and public property; the destruction of bourgeois property went hand in hand with the creation of a new model of property.

  • 23 In 1941, a circular (ukaz) of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR prohibited “the sale, (...)

16Khlevniuk analyzes the bartering practices between factory managers and economic administrations in the supply sector during the Stalinist period. These express a pragmatic adaptation to the need to produce and to the difficulties of putting planning in place. He notes for example that light industry enterprises received half of the metal needed for their production through the channels of the planned economy while the other half came from the “off-plan” market. Trade in surplus raw materials, manufacturing products and equipment was unregulated and took place according to the law of supply and demand. To a large extent, these off-plan transactions were tolerated and even received some support. A 1941 order punished these practices with prison terms, but it was little enforced23 because state officials had largely accepted their existence. However, levels of tolerance of the “off-plan market” fluctuated over the years. Before World War II a call for increased vigilance about off-plan hoarding and trading led to an increase in prosecutions, which was in turn halted under the pressure of military mobilization.

The right price under socialism

17After the attempt to raise prices on essential goods in the 1960s, which led to the revolt and repression in Novocherkassk, a new increase in 1977 concerned only “luxury items.” It is studied in this issue by Anna Ivanova. The policy had a double objective: to combat the shortage of rare goods, so-called luxury goods, by suppressing demand, thereby also repressing the black market and the thieves and profiteers who operated it. Ivanova’s article illustrates the difficulty for the late Soviet government of offering affordable goods and fulfilling commitments in an economy of deficit and scarcity. Although the increase in the price of non-essential goods was carefully calibrated to avoid affecting the standard of living of all but the most affluent consumers, it spurred consternation. The privileged few still had access to luxury goods, both at the new state marked-up prices and on the black market where they traded. At the same time the majority of the population grew afraid of future price hikes, watching the increases affect a growing number of goods. Ivanova illustrates the paradoxical results produced by even limited price increases to “luxury items”: their inaccessibility showed how Soviet socialism did not meet social expectations, and the increases meant that something was wrong.

18Kristy Ironside shows how statisticians and political authorities relied on household budget surveys under Khrushchev and Brezhnev to carry out propaganda about living standards of Soviet citizens. These budgets were put together with the help of questionnaires filled out by volunteers at regular intervals and with increasingly sophisticated indicators. The progression of the configuration of the budgets attested to the improvement in the standard of living of the Soviets and corroborated the optimistic statements on price policy, wage increases, bonuses and pensions. The set of indicators, which included variables about health, education, leisure, or tax exemptions precisely traced the contours of the standard of living in Soviet society. Statisticians insisted that those who (voluntarily) filled out the questionnaires add their “invisible earnings/income” to their salaries. These budgets were published and allowed an “objective,” “mathematical,” but in fact idealized projection of the comfortable daily life of an average working-class family. Other sources, such as the complaints sent by the Soviets to the leadership, which sometimes contained an equivalence of income and expenses, offered a very different view, confirming the persistence and extent of poverty in the Soviet Union.

19Three articles (Cadioli, Ivanova, Ironside) analyze the ideological and symbolic values associated with price formation. In Ivanova’s and Cadioli’s articles, we observe an attempt to reconcile the symbolic and technical functions of prices in the planned economy. These articles show that the principle of administrative planning, which purported to establish prices according to the cost of production alone, was in fact adjusted using other instruments for measuring value and prices. This makes it possible to appreciate their evolution since the 1920s. The resulting system was ultimately complex and sophisticated, using different price measurements, including the kolkhoz market price, which was considered free. It allowed for a certain stability once the monetary reform of 1947 was completed, but also to hide rampant inflation.

Borrowing the tools of capitalism

20Cadioli returns to the mobilization by Soviet planners of “economic levers,” economic instruments common in capitalist economies (i.e., credit, profit, premiums and prices based on costs other than those of production, or the accounting sheet balanced at the level of enterprises (khozraschet)). He reconstructs the extent to which these levers, borrowed from capitalism, were considered at first as temporary solutions to the difficulties of economic construction. From 1941 onwards, the use of credit or accounting balance (khozraschet) was integrated into the war economy. Stalin validated the use of these instruments, which were theorized by the economist Voznesensky under the formula of the transformed law of value as a stepping stone to communism. Although the authors of this initiative perished in the Leningrad Affair, the use of economic levers within the planned economy was no longer questioned. If their adoption was finally limited, it was because of incompatibilities with the planned economy, and not because of ideological obstacles to their deployment.

21Lambroschini’s article also looks at the mechanisms and actors who tried to find adjustments to the struggling Soviet economy. She studies the Soviet bankers, an economic elite of excellence, trained in the best financial schools, who were in charge of the Soviet banks established in the capitalist West. Based on a case of gold speculation unsanctioned by Moscow, which brought a Soviet-owned Zurich bank to the brink of bankruptcy in 1981-1982, she shows how, in the face of economic decline, the technocrats in the field presented their transgressions against the rules of the financial market as measures of efficiency. This brought them into conflict with their hierarchy in Moscow, which was keen on administrative ethics and ideology. Lambroschini points out that this experience of profit- driven transgression in place of ideological reflexes coincided with the Soviet economic downturn of the mid-1980s and the subsequent disorientation in reforming the Soviet economy.

22In conclusion, the articles in this volume analyze the ways in which Soviet authorities constructed socialist economic principles in changing circumstances. They highlight the ways in which ideological imperatives and implementation strategies were recomposed when they came in contact with the demands, practices, and behavior of economic agents. By focusing on the norms and criminality, illegality, and informality of the behavior of economic agents, O’Donnell, Khlevniuk, Ivanova, Cadioli, Ironside, and Lambroschini call to mind the moral and ethical stakes that the Soviet state associates with market practices. These studies make it possible to account, over the long term of Russian history, for continuities in the persistence as well as in the forms taken by the “market” in the economy and in the social behaviors of Russians. In addition, they underline public policies, control techniques, and attempts to define the forms that this “market” should adopt. The imperfect economic and legal tools of economic governance, the borderline criminal and illegal behavior of economic agents, and the involvement of administrators close to central power in the economy and in the allocation of resources, remain constitutive features of the post-Soviet economy. We hope that the articles in this issue will help us to understand these historical continuities.

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Notes

1 Within the framework of the New-York University – Paris Sciences & Lettres International Collaborative Project (NYU-PSL Global Alliance), two workshops were held on the theme “Economic History. The Case of Russia and the Soviet Union. Sources, Methods and Perspectives,” the first at NYU on September 14-15, 2018 and the second at EHESS on December 14-15, 2018.

2 Brandon M Schechter, The Stuff of Soldiers : A History of the Red Army in World War II Through Objects (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2019); Masha Cerovic, Les enfants de Staline: La guerre des partisans soviétiques (1941-1944) (P.: Seuil, 2018).

3 Kristy Ironside, A Full-Value Ruble: The Promise of Prosperity in the Postwar Soviet Union (Harvard – Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2021).

4 Alexandra Oberländer, “Hatching money: The political economy of eggs in the 1960s,” Cahiers du Monde russe, 61, 1-2 (2020): 231-256.

5 Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation (P.: Gallimard, 2009, 1st ed. in 1944).

6 Elena Osokina, Stalin’s Quest for Gold: The Torgsin Hard Currency Shops and Soviet Industrialization (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2021); Elena Osokina, Our Daily Bread, Socialist Distribution and the Art of Survival in Stalin’s Russia, 1927-1941 (London: Routledge, 2015); Anna Ivanova, Magaziny “Berezka”: paradoksy potrebleniia v pozdnem SSSR [“Berezka” stores: Consumption paradoxes in the late USSR] (M.: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 2017).

7 Oleg Vital´evich Khlevniuk, Korporatsiia samozvantsev: tenevaia ekonomika i korruptsiia v stalinskom SSSR [Imposter corporation: Shadow economy and corruption in the Stalinist USSR] (M.: Novoe Literaturnoe Оbozrenie, 2023).

8 Isabelle Ohayon, “Honorer ses morts en socialisme, une économie de l’islam kazakh (1960-1980),” Revue des mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée, 146 (2019): 97-118.

9 On the subject of the preservation of private real estate ownership in Soviet Russia, see Mark Smith, Property of Communists: The Urban Housing Program from Stalin to Khrushchev (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2010).

10 Filip Novokmet, Thomas Piketty, Gabriel Zucman, “From Soviets to Oligarchs: Inequality and property in Russia, 1905-2016,” National Bureau of Econonomic Research, working paper 23712, August 2017.

11 Xenia A. Cherkaev, Gleaning for Communism, The Soviet Socialist Household in Theory and Practice (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, forthcoming). Xenia A. Cherkaev, “Self-made boats and social self-management: The late Soviet ethics of mutual aid,” Cahiers du Monde russe, 59, 2-3 (2018): 289-231.

12 Juliette Cadiot, La société des voleurs: Propriété et socialisme sous Staline (P. : Éditions de l’EHESS, 2021);

13 Khlevniuk, Korporatsiia samozvantsev, Riccardo Mario Cucciolla, “Legitimation through self- victimization: The ‘Uzbek cotton affair’ and its repression narrative (1989-1991),” Cahiers du Monde russe, 58, 4 (2017): 639-668. James Heinzen, “Soviet Entrepreneurs in the Late Socialist Shadow Economy: The Case of the Kyrgyz Affair,” Slavic Review, 79, 3 (2020): 544-565.

14 Juliette Cadiot, “L’affaire Hain : Kyiv, hiver 1952,” Cahiers du Monde russe, 59, 2-3 (2018) ; Khlevniuk, Korporatsiia samozvantsev ; Heinzen, “Soviet Entrepreneurs in the Late Socialist Shadow Economy…”

15 Yoram Gorlizki, Oleg Khlevniuk, Substate Dictatorship: Networks, Loyalty, and Institutional Change in the Soviet Union (New-Haven: Yale University Press, 2020).

16 Oleg V. Khlevniuk, “‘Tolkachi,’ Parallel´nye stimuly v stalinskoi ekonomicheskoi sisteme 1930e-1950e gody,” Cahiers du Monde russe, 59, 2-3 (2018): 233-254.

17 Till Düppe and Ivan Boldyrev, eds., Economic Knowledge in Socialism, 1945-1989 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2019).

18 Hereby we thank the three authors for their participation to the workshops in NYU and EHESS. Their papers are published in Düppe and Boldyrev, eds., Economic Knowledge in Socialism. Yakov Feygin, “‘The Honest Marxist’: Yakov Kronrod and the Politics of Cold War Economics in the Post-Stalin USSR”; Adam E. Leeds, “Administrative Monsters: Yurii Yaremenko’s Critique of the Late Soviet State”; Olessia Kirtchik, “From Pattern Recognition to Economic Disequilibrium: Emmanuil Braverman’s Theory of Control of the Soviet Economy.”

19 On this topic, Nathalie Moine, “‘Mesurer le niveau de vie.’ Administration statistique et politique des données en URSS. De la reconstruction au dégel,” Sociétés contemporaines, 57, 1 (2005): 41-62 ; Nathalie Moine, “‘Le miroir des statistiques,’ Inégalités et sphère privée au cours du second stalinisme,” Cahiers du Monde russe, 44, 2-3 (2003): 481-518.

20 Etienne Forestier-Peyrat et Kristy Ironside, “The Communist World of Public Debt (1917-1991): The Failure of a Countermodel?,” in Nicolas Barreyre, Nicolas Delalande, A World of Public Debts (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020), 317-345.

21 Sergey Ledenev, “Le pétrole et la politique extérieure soviétique (1918-1945): la naissance d’une stratégie géo-économique,” unfinished PhD, Université de Paris.

22 Elisabeth Banks, “Socialist Internationalism between the Soviet Union and Mozambique, 1962-1991,” PhD dissertation, New-York University, 2019.

23 In 1941, a circular (ukaz) of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR prohibited “the sale, exchange and setting aside of equipments and meterials.” The penalty for these illegal activities was two to five years of deprivation of liberty.

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Juliette Cadiot, Sophie Lambroschini et Anne O’Donnell, « Economic histories of the Soviet Union »Cahiers du monde russe, 64/1 | 2023, 23-34.

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Juliette Cadiot, Sophie Lambroschini et Anne O’Donnell, « Economic histories of the Soviet Union »Cahiers du monde russe [En ligne], 64/1 | 2023, mis en ligne le 23 février 2023, consulté le 22 juin 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/monderusse/13921 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/monderusse.13921

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Juliette Cadiot

CERCEC, EHESS, Paris
cadiot[at]ehess.fr

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Sophie Lambroschini

Centre Marc Bloch, Berlin ; CERCEC, EHESS, Paris
sophie.lambroschini[at]cmb.hu-berlin.de

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Anne O’Donnell

New York University
aodonnel[at]nyu.edu

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