And what shall we say of "cultural work" that consists in propagating
the last decree of the authorities in so-called "workers' " clubs, where
nobody has the right to express an opinion that in any way deviates from
the official orthodoxy of the moment?
That is perhaps security against "heresy" but not "social security."
The nursery schools are called "children's gardens," though the
garden is usually missing and the recreation yards are not even expected
to be there. All mothers, except the very poor, have to pay for the
chance of leaving their children in the Soviet nursery schools. Yet the
State-employer has the gall to put the upkeep of these nursery schools
under the heading of "social security." We find under the same heading
the upkeep of institutions for foundlings, orphans, and the "creches,"
where the mother of the poor family—and only the poor mother—leaves
her infant during her hours of work in the factory.
In the USSR, more than elsewhere, the worker's wife is obliged by
want to follow her husband into the factory. It is just a bit cruel to
describe as "emancipation" the need of a mother of a worker family to
do piece work or to labor at the belt during the nursing of her baby.
A part of the budget for public education is also covered by "social
security." Education—even elementary schooling—is, in fact, free only
in a very relative sense. Parents have to pay for pupils' books and
stationery. And because the books thus bought by the pupils'- parents
became, at the end of the school year, the "socialist" property of the
school, no less than a special decree, signed by Stalin on August 7, 1935,
was necessary to make these books the legal property of the persons who
paid for them. From the Izviestia of August 8, 1935, we learn that the
State did a fine business in the sale of books. In the elementary schools,
for example, the books were paid for at the rate of 5 roubles per pupil,
who received for his money only 3 roubles' worth of books. In the
Moscow secondary schools pupils pay 24 roubles and more a year. In
spite of that, there is often one book for 3 to 5 pupils (the same Izviestia).
Yet under Tsarism books and stationery were free in the primary schools.
Included in the section of expenses for "social security" are scholarships, which, as we know, are far from being distributed equally and
benefit finally only a very small part of the population, the elements
destined to fill the big positions.
No, it is quite clear that the second third of the budget for "social
security" cannot be recognized as a real "salary supplement," unless we
adopt the same stand toward similar swindles perpetrated elsewhere.
III.—The condition of public health in the USSR is deplorable.
According to the Izviestia of February 6, 1936, the Commissar of Public
Health of the Pan-Russian Republic of Soviets, Kaminski, declared that
in the hospitals of Moscow—which is in a favorable situation—there were
only 6.3 beds for every thousand inhabitants, while in 1913 there were 7.4.
"For children," he said, "matters are even worse. Only 3% of the beds
needed can be provided for the children."
We again quote the Izviestia (February 28, 1936) : " . . . though
there are in the USSR more than 300,000 children suffering from rachitis,
paralysis and similar defects, there is no institution to take care of them.
In Moscow in particular the existence of 5,000 of such children is officially