separately—although the distinction is quite artificial—first, the degree of
personal liberty (home, work, security, the right to dispose of one's person) allowed to the Russian worker, and, second, the degree of collective
liberty (speech, opinion, press, congregation, vote, education) he enjoys.
Security of the Home
Whether he lives in a "cooperative" house, directed by a centralized
organism or in a "common" house, managed by the bureau of lodgings of
his factory, the worker is always under the thumb of the all powerful centralized organism or of the Communist president of the so-called "house
committee." Should he for one reason or another displease these powers,
he is subject to all manner and means of attention, visits, inspections; he is
moved from one lodging to another; his masters discover that his apartment is too large or that it does not suit him. The quest to discredit the
tenant, to raise the house committee or corresponding central organism
against him, is incessant, reflecting the terrible housing shortage. In the
"common" house, the eviction that follows automatically, according to
the law, the loss of a job, emphasizes the new form of serfdom and has the
effect of chaining the workers to their places of work. In the case of the
slightest slip in the expression of one's political opinion, the "new social
order" is implacable. The sinners and their families then have no right
The worker enjoys only relative security in his home, or what serves
him for a home.
Attached to the Factory
The factory has always been a cursed spot for the worker. It has always been for the worker a place where he must toil against his will. The
Soviet factory remains that for the Russian worker. The management is
the absolute boss both in fact and according to the new law.
The thing that first surprises you is the presence of an armed uniformed guard at the factory gate. This guard, controlled by the police
(G.P.U.) challenges workers who forget to show their passes in the language used by armed factory guards everywhere.
The factory pass, which is renewed every month and bears the photo
of the worker holding it, must be shown to the armed guards also on leaving the place of work. And since it is important to fill the workers' minds
with a wholesome respect for this bit of discipline, the loss of the factory
pass is made punishable with a fine of 3 roubles and more (the card itself
costs a few kopeks.) This loss therefore equals a day's work in the case of
the badly paid workers. The fine does not save the worker the need of
paying, at a special window opening to the outside, the price of a new
pass, including a photograph.
To get hired at a factory, the worker stands in line at several barred
windows, where he presents the following documents: an interior passport,
a work certificate, his military booklet and two recent photos (up to 1935
he had to show also his food-card certificate.) Then he answers in writing
a questionnaire of 60 to 70 questions.