From the September 1961 issue of the Socialist Standard
Mr. S. P. Chambers, Chairman of the Imperial Chemical Industries, on a recent visit to Russia on behalf of his Company, reported on some very interesting observations he had made. He stated:
"I had a measure of success and with one exception, all my questions were answered fully and frankly. The one exception was in the sphere of actual living conditions."
It appears Mr. Chambers wanted to see for himself how the people lived and asked for permission to visit their homes. This did not meet with the approval of the Soviet authorities. According to Mr. Chambers:
The vast blocks of flats erected in and around Moscow represent by European standards a low level for new accommodation.
In Industry, it seems to be the general rule for husband and wife to do a full day's work and the children are left at a nursery or creche, or in the care of some relation.
Mr. Chambers claimed that, although it is said hours of labour are reduced, if statistics were available they would show that many more hours are worked per thousand of the total population than in the United Kingdom or in Western Germany, Clothing and toilet articles, he said, are expensive, meat and poultry was of good quality and not unreasonable in price.
Like many other Directors of the I.C.I. who have previously visited the Soviet Union, Mr. Chambers has clearly shown that this country organises its industrial affairs just like any other capitalist country and has the same anomalies to contend with.
The claim that Socialism exists in the Soviet Union is disproved by the evidence from Mr. Chambers visit. Its workers, just like the working class elsewhere, have to sell their power to labour. There is commodity production, private properly and the same sort of social problems.
A curious fact mentioned by Mr. Chambers was that, at the Coke Chemical Works, a wall 8½ feet high and 3,000 feet long was built to ensure privacy against a rival factory—Agostral. Whoever heard of commercial rivalry in a Socialist economy? There are different classes for passengers in their liners — one of them plying to London has even five classes and that in a so called classless country!
Capitalism exists in the Soviet Union — and until such time that its Working Class understand and desire Socialism, poverty and insecurity will be the lot of the workers there.