More and more people leave the countryside to live in cities. This is a worldwide phenomenon; for Russia, however, it is fraught with the prospect that a major part of the country will simply become uninhabited. Good work and good pay-such are the necessary but by no means sufficient conditions for people to settle in the countryside. In the meantime, apocalyptic forecasts are doing the rounds everywhere to the effect that the policy shift to large farming enterprises, unregulated land relations and, above all, Russia's accession to the WTO which took place this year will be the end of agricultural production in the country. Whether this is really so, is the question which OZ has tried to answer in this issue.
Why Small Business Predominates in Market-Oriented Agriculture
The article focuses on the reasons that small business is the most effective method of organizing agriculture. The author arrives at the conclusion that an economic policy which is based on Marxist political economy as it was in the Soviet Union or on classical economic theory as it is in today's Russia and which automatically gives preference to big business over small business does not take account of the phenomenon of the individual's opportunistic behavior, which is particularly widespread precisely in the countryside. Opportunistic behavior is not linked to national mentality, historical conditions and state borders: it is spread everywhere and at all times. Its essence is that a hired worker strives to satisfy his own interests at the expense of the employer, even if he has to resort to outright deceit, and this will cause damage to the business as a whole. The author explains why it is that small business remains the most effective method of opposing opportunistic behavior in the countryside.
Spatial Contrasts of the Countryside
The article centers on the development of agriculture in Russia in post-Soviet times. The author pays particular attention to the phenomenon of shrinkage of agricultural lands, manifesting itself in a rapid reduction in the area of habitable and cultivated farmland. One major problem hampering the development of rural areas in Russia is the vastness of its periphery, both external and internal. In this respect, it is interesting to note that agriculture is developing most actively in the vicinity of big cities, whereas land in remote areas is, in fact, abandoned. This trend is particularly evident in the non-chernozem belt of Russia, and the author has a rather skeptical view of the immediate prospects for its development, doubting the possibility of large-scale return of population to these places and restoration of land-intensive agriculture there. The main hopes for the future are linked to the development of Russia's southern regions, which relatively successfully passed through the crisis of the 1990s and which have been able to preserve, and sometimes even improve, their agro-industrial complex.
Clipped Wings of Russian Farming
Russian farming got a new lease on life in the Gorbachev era. At the time, more than a billion dollars of state aid was channeled into that sector, which enabled nearly 130,000 private farms to get on their feet. Most of them are still successfully operating today; however, in the 2000s the state decided that it was too troublesome to have a large number of small family farms and focused instead on large, capitalist farming enterprises. They have been given the green light and they get the lion's share of state aid. And yet, as is shown in the article, eventually the countries that are trying to take this path inevitably turn away from it to take the much more effective route towards small private farms.
People's Views on Agriculture. Fact Sheet
Agricultural Cooperation as Archimedes' Lever
Agricultural cooperation is the most adequate, effective and economical way to ensure stable development of rural areas, to solve the social problems of the village and to improve the well-being of rural residents and ensure their access to the process of production management and distribution of the financial results. Although tens of thousands of agricultural cooperatives have been registered in Russia, their contribution to the agrarian economy is still rather small. The reason for the underutilization of the potential of the cooperative movement is that in 21st-century Russia rural residents interested in the progress of cooperatives cannot form the material and technical base of the cooperative business and switch their economic activity to cooperatives unaided, drawing solely on their own resources. The First All-Russian Congress of Rural Cooperatives, which is to be held in Moscow in the first quarter of 2013, will search for solutions to this problem.
Land Relations in the Russian Agrarian Sector
Stock has not, in fact, been taken of farmlands in Russia; a major share of them are abandoned and their privatization has nearly come to a halt. Almost one-fifth of the shares in land that peasants acquired at one time remain unclaimed. Private, state-owned and municipal lands have not yet been delimited. This state of affairs suits quite a few bureaucrats, since it enables them to dispose of land at their own discretion. Yet, at the same time, it hampers agricultural production, prevents the establishment of a civilized land market and promotes the formation of latifundia.
To Unclamp the Vise Grips
Russia has rejoined the club of grain exporting countries. Today the country not only fully feeds itself with grain but it also exports some 20 million tons. The most interesting thing is that grain producers have achieved this not thanks to assistance from the government but in spite of its constant attempts to regulate the grain market. The author notes a certain consistent pattern: any interference by the authorities (price regulation, introduction of export duties, imposition of an export embargo, etc.) has always led to a drop in grain prices and, accordingly, a decline in production, which was rapidly restored as soon as grain producers were left alone.
Resource Provision of Innovations in Russian Agriculture. Fact Sheet
The Long Road to Modern Times
(I.A. Khristoforov. Sudba reformy: Russkoe krestyanstvo v pravitelstvennoi politike do i posle ot-meny krepostnogoprava (1830-1890-e gg.) [The Fate of a Reform: The Russian Peasantry in Government Policy before and after the Abolition of Serfdom (1830s-1890s)]. Moscow, Sobranie, 2011)
The review examines a new book, The Fate of a Reform: The Russian Peasantry in Government Policy before and after the Abolition of Serfdom, by Russian historian Igor Khristoforov. In his monograph, the author has studied the peasant reform of 1861—a very famous yet still little-known reform much mythologized by contemporaries and posterity. It is stressed in the book that the Russian officialdom had no knowledge of the countryside it tried to reform. Eventually the countryside was transformed but nobody was aware of the essence of these transformations. The study of the history of serfdom abolition is essential for understanding the process of reform and decision-making in the 19th-century Russian Empire.
LIFE OR SURVIVAL
Poverty of Rural Russia
The article analyzes the dynamics of the spreading of poverty in the country as compared with the town, its social cross-section and factors, and the assessment by rural residents of their material situation. Based on the findings of sociological surveys, a picture is given of the level and causes of migratory sentiments among the rural community. Proposals are formulated with respect to measures to reduce the scale of poverty in rural Russia.
Social Risks of Modernizing Russia's Agrarian Economy
The article offers an analysis of the social risks and challenges posed by modernization of Russia's agrarian economy, which include a shortage of resources for reproduction of human capital assets, insufficiency of public social spending, archaism of the social and economic stratification of society, and immaturity of the middle class, the main motive force behind modernization of the economy. The conclusion is drawn that, because of low pay, a majority of Russians lack sufficient resources for reproduction of human potential, and the state investments in the education system, public health and culture do not make up for the lack of investments by individuals, which has a negative impact on the state of health, educational level and quality of life of the population.
Apologia of the Peasantry. Fact Sheet
Comparative Analysis of the Agrarian Structures of Russia and the United States
Based on agricultural census data, the article makes a comparison of the agrarian structures of Russia and the United States by economic classes of agricultural producers in terms of concentration of land and labor resources, technological equipment, efficiency of the use of land and labor resources, labor productivity, methods of production organization, and state support. The causes of Russia's substantial lag in labor productivity in agriculture are identified.
Policies and Institutions in Support of Small Farms
This article argues that small farms need to be placed at the heart of the development process (primarily in southern countries), since half of the population affected by famine live in rural areas and have less than 2 hectares of land at their disposal, and nearly 2 billion people are dependent on family farming. The author, an eminent representative of the FAO, recommends that small farms should be integrated into agro-industrial networks. The aim is to develop a different policy aimed at bringing small farmers closer to markets by developing a value chain (i.e., contractual arrangements within agro-industrial value chains) and by proposing transition strategies.
Dairy Industry in Russia and the World. Fact Sheet
Agrarian Policy of Developed Countries
The article provides a comparative analysis of the level of support of agrarian production in Russia and the OECD countries. It is noted that the structure of measures to support agrarian production has changed substantially in the last few decades. The author identifies the main factors influencing the transformation of agrarian policy in the countries of the world. By way of an example, an outline is given of the main stages of development of the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union. The article concludes with the dynamics of the indicators characterizing the effectiveness of Russia's agrarian policy at the present stage.
The Limits of Bolshevik Reformism
The author demonstrates that the New Economic Policy (NEP) of 1921-1927 in Russia was not a respite in preparation for a fresh socialist onslaught: it was a special stage of Russian history—a kind of modification of the mobilization economy. Today this experience has acquired a new topicality: similarly to how it was then, today, in the conditions of failed and lingering reforms, the powerful force of spontaneous social and economic processes and the great significance of the law-making environment, which is not accidentally absent from transitional period economies and thus depriving society of stability, policy of predictability and the authorities of responsibility towards citizens, has become evident.
Drabness for the Exhibition of Achievements. An Archaeoreview
(Osnovniye voprosy organizatsii kolkhoznogo zhivotnovodstva v Kazakhstane [Main Issues of Organization of Collective Farm Animal Husbandry in Kazakhstan]. Ed. by I.S. Nusinov, Alma-Ata, 1935)
The review highlights the brochure Main Issues of Organization of Collective Farm Animal Husbandry in Kazakhstan, little known to this day, by the repressed Soviet economist Alexander Chayanov, which he prepared in 1935 shortly before the First Agricultural Exhibition, the predecessor of the USSR Exhibition of Economic Achievements. Hidden behind ritual incantations about "unprecedented successes of socialist construction" is scathing criticism of the collective farm system. Chayanov notes such shortcomings of that system as hidden social and economic differentiation, poor labor motivation, and terrible organization of labor. In the opinion of the author of the review, Chayanov turned out to be an Orwell of science writing, who in the scientific rather than artistic form, basing himself on concrete social and economic data, exposed the contradictions of the socialist system. It is no wonder that just a few months after its publication the brochure was withdrawn from bookstores and libraries and practically its entire print run was destroyed. Two years later, Chayanov was shot to death.
Capitalism with a Farmer's Face
The article, based on the findings of 2007-2008 field surveys, focuses on the unique experience of the success by private farms in achieving dominating positions in one of the rural districts of the Kuznetsk Basin. The author formulates the specific principles of farmer capitalism, which prohibit struggle for natural resources and manpower among "one's own"—agricultural enterprises and farms operating within the same territory, call in question the justice of private property in land and imply social responsibility of business towards rural communities. Using detailed interviews with heads of farms from a rural district in the Kuznetsk Basin conducted in 2007-2008, i.e., before the moment when the powerful wave of the world financial crisis substantially reduced the possibilities for implementing expensive projects, the author analyzes the mechanisms, difficulties and consequences of the technological modernization being carried out on those farms. In the first place, this retooling in the agricultural sector has exacerbated the problems of regulation of land relations and of chronic rural unemployment.
Experiments over the Village
On the basis of personal impressions, the author, former State Duma deputy, minister and member of the Council of the Federation, describes the blunders of the agrarian policy of the 1990s and the transformation of rural life in the Altai Territory. In his opinion, this policy has resulted not only in a setback of agriculture as such but also in the destruction of rural settlements whose infrastructure was formerly supported by major socialist agricultural enterprises.
Nadezhda Zamyatina, Alexander Pilyasov
Industrial Yeast for Rural Altai
The Altai Territory is a major agricultural producer in Russia. However, the territory's agriculture has low productivity and its rural residents, low living standards. The region's official policy is aimed at creating agro-industrial clusters based on processing of agricultural produce, the logic of which is based upon producing primary farming produce to its processing. The authors propose a more effective option for improving the living standards in rural areas — the development of rural industry, in particular, science-intensive industry and, in the first place, small business development in the countryside (logic: from end-use industrial products to reorientation of agricultural production). A good example of the positive impact of science-intensive industry on the countryside is the activity of the biopharmaceutical firm Evalar, which has set up agricultural production of medicinal herbs within the framework of its production chain.
Food Patriotism and Its Sources. Fact Sheet
Confession of a Guide
(Anatoly Bernshtein. Pedagogika na konchika-kh paltsev. Vvedeniye v spetsialnost [Education Science at the Fingertips: Introduction to Specialty]. St. Petersburg, Obrazovatelniye Proyekty, 2012.)
The author of the review describes the book as a collection of impressionist essays. This is a diary reflecting the everyday routine of the profession of teacher, educator and instructor. But it is a very special type of diary, which is not a simple recording of names, dates and cases from educational practice. It is rather a recording of one's own feelings, emotions and thoughts being born "here and now"—in class, during a walk, while reading a book at night, and in contacts with students and their parents. That is why the style of this narration brings Bernshtein's book close to certain aspects of famous mini-essays by the Russian thinker Vasily Rozanov.
Commonwealth of Descriptions
(D. Hind. The Return of the Public. London, Verso, 2010)
The article reviews Dan Hind's project of media and journalism reform (presented in his book The Return of the Public). Hind draws on classical English republicanism and insists that the Western history of the public is the history of alienation: the citizens' knowledge about the world, society, and themselves constantly diminishes. To overcome this alienation, the public has to retrieve the instruments for producing the knowledge about society. So the "media reform" is not a technical issue but the first step to a complete transformation of the "truth regime." Hind's approach is based on "public commissioning": the public ought to be able to commission the information it wants and needs, without being satisfied with its role as consumer. The flaws of Hind's project are both strategic and conceptual ones. Hind draws no clear distinction between the public and the group, or the public and the population, presupposing that formal con-editions of public discussion will suffice for just and democratic decision-making. The possibility of a self-transparent "Commonwealth of Descriptions" is taken for granted, so the concept of public opinion as a "sovereign" of contemporary society is not subject to ideological analysis.
On Four Books
On the Usefulness of a "Principled Lack of Principles"
F. Ankersmit. Politicheskaya reprezentatsiya [Political Representation]. Moscow, National Research University "Higher School of Economics," 2012
The Imaginary Invalid
V.V. Zvereva. "Nastoyashchaya zhizn" v televizore: issledovaniya sovremennoi mediakultury ["Real Life" on TV: Studies of Contemporary Media Culture]. Moscow, Russian State University for the Humanities, 2012
Adventures of the "Keen Eye"
M. Stolleis. Oko zakona. Istoriya odnoi metafory [The Eye of the Law: The History of a Metaphor]. Transl. from the German by A.V. Doronin. Moscow, Rossiiskaya Politicheskaya Entsiklopediya
Metamorphoses of Literature-Centrism V.Ye. Pustovaya. Tolstaya kritika: rossiiskaya proza v aktualnykh obobshcheniyakh [Criticism in Literary Monthlies: Russian Prose in Topical Generalizations]. Moscow, Russian State University for the Humanities, 2012
THE LAND OF OZ
Grandma: The Simple Canvas of Her Life
The author of this research paper, submitted to a school students' competition held by the Memorial Society, tells the story of her grandmother, who lived most of her life in a village located not far from Volgograd (known as Stalingrad in the years of WWII). It was an ordinary peasant woman's life—hard toil almost from the cradle, regular periods of famine, and the horrible years of the war, occupation and postwar devastation. And yet she is thankful to her destiny that she has survived and raised her children and can now, late in life, enjoy her grandchildren at her leisure, not caring about earning a living.
House and Its Dwellers
A Moscow historian's recollections about the dwellers of an apartment house in Kolokolnikov Lane located in the very heart of the city, between Sretenka and Trubnaya Streets, offer a vivid group portrait of residents of postwar Moscow (1950s-1960s), with the sorrows and joys they experienced in those days. Continued from Issue No. 5 (48).