Soviet Citizens Ate Just as Well As West Europeans

Steve writes, quoting a British author.

“While most citizens struggled to survive… a secret elite enjoyed great privileges: special living spaces, special hospitals, special schools, special lanes along which the Politburo’s limousines roared at 90mph.”

Yes, the elite lived somewhat better than the masses, but compare how much better the elite lives than the masses under capitalism to the privileges of the elite in the USSR and there is no comparison. Western elites have lifestyles dramatically superior by many times over those of the masses. The Soviet elite only lived somewhat better. The differences were not that dramatic.
This same author also wrote that the USSR was one of the most unequal states on Earth. No! Not so!
Anyway, since when do capitalists have issues with inequality? They should be praising the inequalities of the USSR to the skies as a glorious capitalist feature of the system.
They didn’t struggle to survive! That’s bullshit! For instance, food. They go on and on about food shortages. maybe there were some. But you know what? In the USSR, people at just as well as West Europeans did! In some cases, better.
They ate just as much bread products, fruits, vegetables and meat as West Europeans. Also just as much or more meat – fish, beef, pork. They ate just as much food in just as good a variety as you Brits did! So they had an excellent and nutritious diet.
They can go on and on about food shortages all they want to, but if they ate just as well as West Europeans, what differences does it make if some stuff was out of stock sometimes? They still ate just as well. In one place, some stuff was out of stock, in the other place, the shelves were full, but each one ate just as well as the other.
Now, some West Europeans may have eaten more luxury foods, shall we call them, then the Soviets did. But were those luxury foods available to all Soviets?
It’s true that Americans ate more of most types of food than Soviets did, but Americans also ate more of most types of food than West Europeans.

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0 thoughts on “Soviet Citizens Ate Just as Well As West Europeans”

  1. Hi Robert, long time reader here.
    The Soviet Union probably had comparable calorie consumption to the United States, especially grain, but meat consumption in the USSR have been documented to be lower than the United States from the sources I’ve read.
    As for luxury goods, both East Germans and Soviets had neat little stores called Beryozka/Intershops that sold goods in hard currency and sold items such as chocolate, bananas, marlboros, etc.

  2. Dear Robert
    On the whole I agree with. After the initial disasters of collectivization in the thirties, there has not been a serious food supply problem in the Soviet Union. Meat and milk consumption certainly went up considerably, which is why the Soviet Union ended up importing feed grains from the West.
    However, it seems that fresh fruit and vegetables were often hard to obtain. Most fruit and vegetables were canned. Of course, having to eat canned fruit and vegetables is not the end of the world.
    The Soviet Union also had one of the biggest fishing fleets in the world, and as you know, fish is rich in protein.
    I doesn’t seem that there was any serious malnutrition or undernourishment in the former Soviet Union, but many people there may have found their diet a bit boring. Also in the food sector, socialism just wasn’t very cool. I don’t give a damn about coolness, but a lot of people in this world do.
    Regards. James

  3. Dear Robert
    There was also some private agriculture in the Soviet Union. About 2% of farmland was privately owned. I have heard and read countless times that as much food was grown on that 2% as on the the 98% owned by the state. That sounds incredible, and it was. The truth of the matter is that farmers used that 2% to grow high-value crops such as flowers and strawberries and sell them at market prices. The monetary value of the output from that 2% could very well have been as great as the monetary value of the output from the 98% of farmland owned by the state, but people aren’t fed by money but by food.
    Suppose that Peter has 2 acres on which he grows strawberries and roses while Paul has 98 acres on which he grows wheat. It is quite possible that the monetary value of Peter’s crop is as high as that of Paul, but can Peter feed as many people? I don’t think so. The private sector in the Soviet was like Peter’s 2 acres and the state sector was like Paul’s 98 acres.
    The story of the highly productive 2% of private land in the Soviet Union was one of those stories that unthinking anti-communists liked to use. Of course, not all anti-communists were of the unthinking kind.
    Regards. James

  4. Hitchens’ latest blog post mentions the Soviet Union again. Its a bit of a coincidence so I’ll quote it. He says that things got worse after the collapse for many people and if you read the article, he compares Britain today to the Soviet Union just before its collapse.
    Pretty grim reading for a Brit:
    “But think they must be applauded for their unflinching clarity of vision about the true state of affairs, and the direction in which we are headed. It reminds me – in one important way – of the state of the old USSR in 1990, on the eve of its collapse.
    Of course the USSR was very different in many ways from 2012 Britain. But it had these similarities. It had sustained itself for years on a myth of greatness, rooted on World War Two, which was not truly justified. It had committed itself to enormous social provision which was already failing badly (people feared the Soviet hospitals with reason) before the collapse. But, as nobody had the nerve to reform it or challenge the social ills that it assuaged, it continued to creak along. It nurtured a large, comfortable middle class largely separated from the crises in crime, housing and education. The value of its currency bore no real link to reality.
    And the thing that snapped was the currency. As the old Soviet rouble shrivelled and vanished away like a perished balloon, so did the way of life that it had supported. Some people did very well out what followed. Most actually did not. Some came out about even. But in many cases life after the change was actually grimmer than it had been in the Soviet era ( and for some, especially the old, I suspect it may still be so). It is from those who were dumped on the slushy roadside by the new era that Vladimir Putin gets his support. He picked them up and made sure they were looked after, as Yeltsin had failed to do – and those who can’t grasp this will never begin to understand the base of Putin’s power. Mind you, Putin has oil, and we shall soon have none, and be compelled to buy it from him.”

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