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Humanitarian sciences in Siberia

2018 year, number 2

SMALL AND HANDICRAFT INDUSTRY IN SIBERIA UNDER CONDITIONS OF ECONOMIC CRISIS IN 1920s

A.A. Nikolaev
Institute of History SB RAS, 8, Ak. Nikolaeva Str., Novosibirsk, 630090, Russian Federation
Keywords: Сибирь, мелкая и кустарно-ремесленная промышленность, кустарно-промысловая кооперация, военный коммунизм, национализация промышленности, трудовые мобилизации, Siberia, small and handicraft industry, handicraft cooperation, military communism, industry nationalization, labor mobilization

Abstract

The article reveals the state of small and handicraft industry in Siberia after the Civil War, the degree of its nationalization, the state control and management forms and methods, short- and medium-term effects of «military communism». An interagency body - the Main Directorate for artisanal and small-scale industry and trade cooperation - was formed based on the apparatus of the Supreme Economic Council and the Commissariat of Agriculture in the early 1920s to manage handicraft industry. Its regional bodies were entrusted with the state orders distribution, raw materials provision, supplying artisans, products sale, enterprises’ registration, financial and production-technological control implementation. To solve urgent economic problems, the new authorities used mechanism of labor mobilization combining self-employed craftsmen and artisans in small producers’ artels, which were guaranteed raw materials provision, products sale, payment in kind. Such forced partnership of the «survival economy» allowed ensuring demand for a certain range of manufactured goods and the necessary subsistence minimum for the workers. The forced cooperation of artisans, nationalization of cooperative enterprises and other measures could not solve the key issues of the revival of population entrepreneurial activity. A significant number of industrial enterprises in Siberia, which became the state property, continued to be inactive. The possibility of reviving the handicraft sector of the economy was limited not only by the complete breakdown of economic ties, but also by the authorities’ ideological implacability and private property, as well as the incompetence of the military administration to use market methods. The attempt to give a positive impulse to the state industry on planned basis was not successful. The idea of the State Central Committee (Glavk) on the principles of self-financing was the last illusion ruined by the economic life realities.