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Bitter Waters Essay

840 words - 3 pages

Gennady Andreev-Khomiakov's Bitter Waters provides a unique insight into the economic realities under the yoke of Stalin's planned economy. Andreev-Khomiakov presents a rare account of the Soviet work experience that illuminates the gap between the dictates of Communist economic planning and its actual results. "To the authorities we are faceless individuals merging into a mass, an indistinguishable crowd." (90) This statement is a telling indictment of the actuality of life under a regime that subordinated the interests of the individual to the interests of building Communism. The Soviet order demanded that individuals abandon their own interests, deferring them to the cause of building a socialist utopia. This order insisted that the Soviet worker was merely a cog in a wheel, a necessary but easily replaceable automaton that has no choice but to surrender those fiercely human qualities, namely creativity and originality, and comply with the faceless and often nonsensical dictates of the Soviet plan. Andreev-Khomiakov's experience illustrates the failures and shortcomings of the Soviet system; it evinces the ironically chaotic nature of blindly adhering to an arbitrary plan that virtually ensured a gap between what is planned and what was actually achieved. The nature of the gap between Communist economic planning and the reality described by Andreev-Khomiakov was caused by no single force, but instead by a combination of factors that ensured that the goals of the plan would not be realized. The Soviet system was an exceedingly complex bureaucracy with strict protocols and procedures with no tolerance for deviation. Strict adherence to complex bureaucratic procedure enacted a working environment where there was often little to do but wait for the next order from above. All of the links in this chain are tightly intertwined, forming an essential, carefully structured ornament of the socialist façade. If some information or other is not available, then it has to be invented somehow out of thin air; God help you if it is omitted. The entire chain can be broken because of a single inadequate piece of information, and the thunder and lightning of orders, reproofs, and even arrests for "disruption of the accounting process" might shower down from on high. To avoid this, we had to keep three full-time employees who were bored to death from lack of work during the rest of the month. (83) In order for anything to be accomplished the system required total obedience to the workings of the bureaucracy. Needless to say, the prevalence...

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