It was a fact that I always wondered how long communism inthe Soviet Union would last. In the book “From the Forest of Tatar” that I published (1992, Maigo Publishing Company), I made Noboru, the main character of the short story of the same title as the book,speak the premonition that there is no element to enhance productivity in such an economic structure against human nature, and that it would eventually fall apart. That became a reality.
Having such a vast land can be a problem, too. The difference of time in the east and the west in the territory of former SovietUnion was twelve hours, and within the Russian Republic, it is ten hours. Compared to the time difference of three hours between Paris and Moscow, and nine hours between Moscow and Tokyo, I thought it was a bit strange. However, as a result of my investigation, I found out it was true in the area of Northern part of Russia, which is closer to the Arctic Circle. It is such an obstacle. I have a feeling communication is a true challenge in anything they do with so much time difference within a country.
Talking about agriculture, the system called kolkhoz (collective farm) and sovkhoz (state owned farm) did not seem to encourage growth of agricultural productivity, based on ourown experience when we were forced to work in that system. Even though there were certain rewards for finishing the work quota, there was no system to evaluate the quality of the labor. Therefore, workers would just put time in it.
Talking about food, the evaluation was all by weight. As a result, taste did not matter at all- what mattered was only the amount. It did not encourage anyone to want to make products ofgood quality. Products at the factory were the same. Since the finished numbers were important, defective products were not caught. Such was happening to the level ofthe production of parts. Therefore, the products that were made with such parts inevitably included inferior ones.
I am really wondering how the Soviets, with such a limited capacity, can launch satellites. My understanding is that, there must be certain numbers of especially gifted people among so many, and using themcollectivelyin a chosen field, can accomplish something considerably impressive. However, the accident ofthenuclear power plant in Chernobyl proved that their incomplete operation not only hurt their own people, but everyone in the world.
Another important problem is the counter productive and illogical aspect of their planned economy. First, estimation for the demand for all the materials and labor is made, and production and division of the fields are determined accordingly. Contrarily speaking, their calculated production decided the amount of distribution, fitting the expected needs of each citizen. As a practical matter, it is impossibleto do this.
What would be a good example? When I was in the SovietUnion, there were mountain full of bottles of fragrance for floors in the small shop in town, but there was no bread nor butter. They gave away all the wheat to the government because the price for selling it was high, but for their own pigs, they had to buy cheap bread.
Under capitalism, or free economy, the supply and demand is adjusted by price. If the supply of certain products become short, the price goes up. If the price goes up, it increases the production. If the production increases, the price goes down. As the price goes down, the production decreases, and then the price goes up as the production decreases. This way, the change of price is the key factor for the adjustment of supply and demand.
Ina society with a planned economy, the price of items is generally decided in one way as fixed price and distribution price. Even though this decision is based on the calculation of cost accounting with additional factors, such fixed pricestakes away the role of the price that works due to the adjustment of production and demand inafree economy. That is the problem.
It must be a fact that the Sovietssuffered tremendously from the unexpected amount of loss in all areas during WWII. Especially, with the estimated loss of 20,000,000 soldiers, their villages were suffering from lack of any young man who could work.
We could tell such a situation clearly existed while we were in the SovietUnion. Any men who was walking in town were either old or physically handicapped if they were not in a army uniform. It even made me feel I could understand why they came up with the idea to make 600,000 Japanese soldiers participate in their five year plan.
Anyhow,the Soviet Union collapsed under the economic structure that made it impossible to deliver the promise of future development. In other words, their grand experiment ended in complete failure.
I did not think about going back to the SovietUnionwhere there were no good memories. After repatriation, I had many nights where I woke up in a cold sweat because of a dream where I wasabducted to go back to theSovietUnion again. It was such a disgusting dream, making my heart freeze. Since my work in the Ministry of Finance was mainly in the budget bureau, there was no chance to go to the SovietUnion. However, I always kept thinking about what happened to the SovietUnion.