‘He Who Does Not Trade, Does Not Eat!’: Trade Practices in the Everyday Lives of Ural Workers in the 1920s

Alexey Kilin

Abstract


This article considers trade practices in the everyday lives of Ural workers in the 1920s. Methodologically, the research is based on the principles of everyday history (German Alltagsgeschichte). The analysis is performed with reference to information reports of the political section of the Joint State Political Directorate (JSPD) in the Urals for 1924, whose authors revealed open or hidden conflicts. The JSPD focused on conflicts of all types that could be potentially dangerous for the regime. During the years of the New Economic Policy, the multitude of forms and methods of trade and intermediary activity was conditioned by the mixed character of the economy and the transitional nature of the management model. The system of centralised state distribution was not flawless, but it was seen as an ideal model to employ during the establishment of a new society, which led to the population being involved in trade and intermediary activities. Trading became a mass occupation and was also deprofessionalised, as vast numbers of people were involved in the activity, regarding it as a temporary occupation. The article focuses on the participation of Ural workers in trading and intermediary activities, conditioned by the defects of the state and cooperative system of distribution. Workers sold goods received in the form of payment at work, resold slow-moving articles bought in cooperative stores, and dealt in monetary surrogates. All these quite often directly resulted from the defective system of remuneration in enterprises and the centralised supply system. When selling their own property, artisanal and homemade goods made outside of work hours, workers were not part of their respective enterprises; hence, these types of trade can be regarded as additional earning. Despite their trading at markets, workers did not accept trading as such, criticising private trade for both ideological and economic reasons.


Keywords


New Economic Policy; trade relations; production plan; free trade; distribution principles; victualling; private cooperation; Urals

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15826/qr.2017.4.266

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