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Driven by Enthusiasm

"Gorbachev Factor"

Ultimately, the most crucial resource of Stalins industrialization was the abundance and inexhaustibility of cheap labor. It was provided by millions of trained workers, by millions of peasants driven to towns by the collectivization, by millions of labor camp inmates, and by 1.5 million of the former unemployed (unemployment disappeared in 1930). Many were driven by enthusiasm, prepared to sweat at construction sites around the clock virtually for free. Young people, in particular, were deeply motivated by the idea that it was possible to build a better and fairer society relatively quickly, within their lifetime, by mounting a huge exhausting effort and accepting hardships and self-sacrifice.  

This was Soviet Russias period of great austerity, as reflected in a number of popular stories characteristic of the popular mood that people usually whispered in secret:


An Englishman, a Frenchman, and a Russian were arguing about the nationality of Adam and Eve.

They must have been English, declares the Englishman. Only a gentleman would share his last apple with a woman.

They were undoubtedly French, says the Frenchman. Who else could seduce a woman so easily?

I think they were Russian, says the Russian. After all, who else could walk around stark naked, feed on one apple between the two of them, and think they were in paradise?

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Soviet Russia

Understanding the Soviet Period
Russian Political Culture
Soviet Ideology
The Soviet System
Soviet Nationalities
The Economic Structure
The Socialist Experiment
"Great Leap" to Socialism
The USSR in World War II
Stalin's Legacy
Brezhnev's Stagnation
The Economy in Crisis
Political Reform
The USSR's Collapse

Models of Soviet Power

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