Marxist Cloud May Linger Behind the Party

IT may be stashed away in a corner, on top of a bookshelf behind some plants, or displayed prominently on the wall behind the desk, but in nearly every factory director's office there is a portrait of Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin."It's a habit," says Vasily Molodykh, the director of Moscow's Zotova Bread Factory, of the Lenin portrait hanging on the wall just over his shoulder. m not disappointed in his ideas. There's no need to take it down." Although the Communist Party, dissolved in the aftermath of last week's failed coup, no longer dictates how Soviet industry operates, both managers and employees alike seem to be in no hurry to make changes. Unlike the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, in which militant workers seized factories, the workers appear content to let the managers keep on running things following the anti-Bolshevik uprising of 1991. "Our history books have been changed many times and no one here really knows what happened in 1917 anymore," says Mr. Molodykh, a party member. "All I know is that the [400] workers at this factory seem content with me as the director, and I will continue to do my job until I am removed."

Party only part of problem Sociologist Ivan Fedorko says the party was only part of the problem preventing the successful implementation of democracy and a market economy in the Soviet Union. "The psychology of the Russian people has not changed much, despite the defeat of the Communists," he says. "Don't be surprised if our democracy develops differently than in the United States," he adds. "The cloud of Marxism-Leninism will hang over us for some time." Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev ordered the privatization of all party property on Saturday, a move effectively bringing the demise of the organization. In the Russian Federation, party activity in the workplace was banned last month by President Boris Yeltsin. "Since Yeltsin banned party committees at enterprises, we haven't been bothered much by Communists," says Vazha Lominadze, the director of the Samtrest Wine Factory in Moscow. "In fact, over the last few years, we haven't had any problems at all with the party."

Party managed everything That was not always the case. During the heyday of the centrally planned economy, party committees operated at all large enterprises and managed everything down to the smallest details. "We used to have problems with cadre decisions, but that was years ago," says Mr. Lominadze, a Georgian, director of the 100-employee wine factory for four years. "I welcome the new freedom because the old system prevented success. But recently the biggest problem I've faced is not interference from the Communists, but a shortage of bottles." As Communist prestige plummeted during the six years of perestroika, many gave up party membership. The process gradually reduced manager and employee reluctance to make decisions without party approval. Lominadze says he quit the party last year for "obvious reasons." At the Second Moscow Watch Factory, which employs about 10,000 workers, party membership dropped from 1,700 a few years ago to about 600 this year. "Of course, it's nice to have the party out, but management can't do much if it doesn't have any money," says Julia Ryabkova, assistant to the factory director. Everything was functioning more or less normally at the Watch factory, Ms. Ryabkova says. "Production was disrupted last week because many workers left their jobs to go to the barricades around the Russian parliament. But now everything is running. There is no chaos."

Complete retooling needed Ryabkova says the factory would welcome the opportunity to sell in international markets, but before that could happen it would need complete retooling. As for the workers, many are taking a wait-and-see attitude. Few show revolutionary zeal, and instead are more concerned about the future. "The party defended the people," says Viktor Samsonov, a 23-year-party member. "Now who is going to provide for social protection?" To change the attitudes of many workers will prove more difficult than sweeping the old political system away, says Galina Piskareva, the factory receptionist. "We're all used to the old way," she says. "You realize the Communists taught us not to think. It's tough for people to change their ways so quickly." Many do appear not to want to lose the old ways. Though some expressed fears about being laid off, five people sit in the wine factory reception area either watching television or chatting among themselves. As she sipped tea, Lyuba Rusanova, another receptionist, says she is apprehensive about a market economy. "The only market I know is the farmers' market" where prices are not controlled by the government. "The prices there make my hair stand on end."

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