|Extract from an article detailing ways that Stalin tried to get more work from Russians, 1938|
|(Catalogue ref: FO 371/22293, from ‘Labor and Management in the USSR’, Vera Micheles Dean, ‘Foreign Policy Reports’, Foreign Policy Association, New York, 15 June 1938)|
The Soviet government has striven to overcome these difficulties – inevitable when factory workers are recruited directly from the villages – by stressing the importance of increased labor discipline, and by mechanizing the more complicated labor processes. The ideal of economic equality, which dominated the early years of Soviet rule – although it never received wide application – was officially abandoned in 1931, when Stalin denounced “equalitarianism in the sphere of wages” (ulravnilovka) as non-Marxist, and urged the widespread introduction of piecework and efficiency devices to raise the level of labor productivity. These devices have ranged, at various times, from “shock-brigades” of workers to “socialist competitions,” with the award of bonuses and special badges to outstanding “heroes” of Soviet economy.
Of the many methods adopted to increase labor productivity, none has received so much publicity as the Stakhanov movement, launched in 1935 by a miner of that name, who had increased his own output by re-organizing the work of his shift. The Stakhanov movement, which swept the country like wildfire, at first stressed greater division of labor and better planning and coordination of work by the individual piece-worker, who had to have sufficient technical training to understand the whole process of production in which he was engaged. In this respect, Stakhanovism was comparable to the efficiency devices familiar in capitalist enterprises, such as Taylorism and other methods of “scientific management,” which require not merely “speeded-up” work, but intelligent rationalization of labor processes.
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