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Very small businesses in Soviet U - how did they work?

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Soviet cogitations: 28
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 02 Jan 2015, 07:22
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Pioneer
Post 03 Jan 2015, 05:20
very small businesses, such as marts, hairdressers etc..ie: private ones - how did they work, and how could the govt actually run such a small business?

could you really have a one man state owned hot dog stand for example?
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Soviet cogitations: 1319
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 29 Sep 2011, 13:51
Ideology: Democratic Socialism
Party Member
Post 03 Jan 2015, 15:15
Since you're new here I'm going to explain some of the basics of the Soviet system to you in a few words. In the U.S.S.R. there was no such thing as a private business. Owning private property ran contrary to the socialist system. This is not to be confused with personal property, which are the items one utilised out of necessity or in order to facilitate living standards such as a television one owned at home, a car, a cigarette lighter, the clothes on one's back, a telephone etc. Personal properties did belong to one or another person and were subject to criminal laws in the case of theft. In other words, it was a crime to steal someone else's personal property.

Private property however which is utilised in order to make a profit did not exist in the Soviet Union. You could not own land, a factory or any kind of business that would generate revenue. Everything from large industry to small businesses were publicly owned. Big industry and agriculture was administered by the Soviet government's top brass in the Council of People's Commissars while smaller businesses were administered on a more local level.

So yes, even the smallest kiosk where you'd buy ice cream on a hot summer day belonged to the people of the Soviet Union. The person who sold you ice cream worked for a salary paid for by the local government of that area.

If you wanted to become a hairdresser for example after graduating from high school, you would have to enrol into an institution for hairdressers of your choosing. Upon graduating and receiving your diploma, you would then go to where advertisements (sometimes in the form of billboards) were displayed offering employment, otherwise you could go directly to your local employment agency and present your credentials. After that depending on legal issues for example where you're registered residentially, you got a job at a hair-cutting salon in the town of your residence and your salary paid for by the government.
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The great art of life is sensation; to feel that you exist, even in pain.
Soviet cogitations: 28
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 02 Jan 2015, 07:22
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Pioneer
Post 04 Jan 2015, 05:01
Ok, thanks for that.

so in the hair salon, what happened to the profits, earnings etc... I mean how did the small salons fit into the bigger scheme of things - like was there some kind of 'board of hairdressers' - who came and collected the money for example??
Soviet cogitations: 108
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Feb 2014, 12:33
Pioneer
Post 04 Jan 2015, 12:10
There actually existed some private business; for instance, farmers were allowed to own private plots and hunters could sell their catch to the state-owned firms. Private businesses were allowed again under Gorbachev.
Soviet cogitations: 1533
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Oct 2007, 15:55
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Party Member
Post 04 Jan 2015, 22:09
Weren't there private businesses during the NEP as well as Perestroika?
We have beaten you to the moon, but you have beaten us in sausage making.- Nikita Khrushchev
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 19 Mar 2005, 20:08
Embalmed
Post 04 Jan 2015, 22:20
During Stalin's time too, it wasn't until Khrushchev that all small enterprises became government property.
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"Bleh, i don't even know what i'm arguing for. What a stupid rant. Disregard what i wrote." - Loz
"Every time is gyros time" - Stalinista
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Soviet cogitations: 1319
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 29 Sep 2011, 13:51
Ideology: Democratic Socialism
Party Member
Post 05 Jan 2015, 15:18
Dictator77 wrote:
Ok, thanks for that.

so in the hair salon, what happened to the profits, earnings etc... I mean how did the small salons fit into the bigger scheme of things - like was there some kind of 'board of hairdressers' - who came and collected the money for example??


First off I'll let you know that what I've explained to you above was done under the assumption that you were asking how things ran during times of peace, political and economic stability in the socialist Soviet Union after its base infrastructure was already in place. The New Economic Policy of the twenties and Perestroika were times of social and economic instability upon which measures that ran contrary to socialist economics were taken albeit for completely different reasons and motives. The 1st Five Year Plan was when private property was being transferred back into the hands of the public after the NEP and so during all these times private property existed.

I do not know to which private property which existed under Stalin Kirov was alluding to. I do not know of private property existing after the 2nd Five-Year Plan had begun. During the war black markets flourished as they always do in war zones due to the inaccessibility of governments over war torn populations, but besides that I don't know of private property during the Stalin era; but then again I'm no expert.

Nobody can give you an answer to how things were run on the smallest level throughout the entirety of the Soviet Union. What I'm telling you is what I've heard through first hand accounts from a relatively small number of people related to me.

In the case of the beauty salon, the money the salon made would go to their company bank account (side note: the terms company, business, and corporation were never used in the Soviet Union. Individual economic entities were referred to as "предприятие", which translates to "venture" or "enterprise"). There would be a general manager of the salon who had responsibilities to a local government bureaucracy which generally consisted of members of the communist party. The general norm was that in order to obtain high administrative positions in soviet society you had to be a member of the party. The banks, the salon manager and the party would work together on different projects. For example if the manager of the salon felt that they were receiving too much customers and wanted to expand, he would write in a statement to whoever he was responsible to in the party and if they deemed it necessary the banks would fund setting up shop in another location or expanding by some other means.

Besides that any surplus of cash that was accumulated after salaries, maintenance, and expenditures were dealt with would have been transferred upwards from the local governmental level to the regional, provincial, and national levels.

The biggest downside to all this was the often stifling bureaucracy that resulted which still exists to a very large extent in some post-Soviet states like in Ukraine which I've experienced first hand. It's a system of constant waiting in long lines, endless applications, paper work and constantly being asked to come the next day, and the next day, and the next day.
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The great art of life is sensation; to feel that you exist, even in pain.
Soviet cogitations: 28
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 02 Jan 2015, 07:22
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Pioneer
Post 07 Jan 2015, 07:09
ok, thanks and here's another couple of questions on the same track:

1. Very small businesses - how did they know what the customers wanted, and how was this implemented?

2. In the countryside, small villages etc... what did people do and how far did the state really reach into people's lives?
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