Soviet Millionaires

Pamphlet from 1943. The pro Soviet text reveals that these are good men, mostly collective farmers, and the millions are in Roubles. A far cry from the current billionaire 'oligarchs'...

A Russia Today Pamphlet
First Edition (1943)
by Reg Bishop

Printed and published by Fairleigh Press (T.U.all depts), Beechwood Rise, Watford, for the Russia Today Society, 150 Southampton Row, London, W.C.1. 14 pages.

THE news that there are Soviet "millionaires" - men and women who have been able to invest a million roubles or more in the country's War Loan - has come as a great surprise and, indeed, with a sense of shock to many people to whom the very word "millionaires" represents an evil influence in society.

Many of these "millionaires" are collective farmers. The emergence of Soviet collective farm millionaires means that Stalin's promise in 1933 that the Soviet Government aimed at making collective farmers well-to-do is on the road to fulfilment.

The very term "millionaire" is misleading, for there are many kinds of millionaires. Before the war one could be a millionaire in sterling, in dollars, in francs or any other currency. The possessor of a million pounds was nearly five times as wealthy as the possessor of a million dollars, and the latter was more than 25 times as wealthy as the possessor of a million francs. The possessor of a million Rumanian lei or Turkish piastres had still less money.

In other words, a rouble millionaire has not the wealth of a sterling millionaire. Even were a rouble millionaire to be possessed of as much money as a sterling one it would still not necessarily be either anti-social or anti-Socialist, because the atmosphere of social inequity which surrounds a millionaire is due not to the measure of his wealth but to the method of its acquisition, and his use of it to exploit others.

In all countries the law smiles upon the acquisition of wealth, but in all countries legal barriers are erected against certain methods of becoming wealthy. In a capitalist country, a man who acquires wealth by robbing a bank or by selling shares for non-existent gold-mines is arrested, tried and sent to gaol if found guilty. In the Soviet Union, a man who becomes wealthy by robbing a bank is also sent to gaol, but the socialist nature of the Soviet State requires it as equally immoral to acquire wealth by the exploitation of the labour of others, or by speculation; that is to say, buying in the cheapest market to sell in the dearest.

These methods are held to imply as great, or even greater, moral obliquity as robbing a bank, hence, whereas it is reasonable to suppose that in a capitalist country millionaires have acquired their status by means of the exploitation of others, or by tricky, though strictly legal, financial manipulations, in the Soviet Union the millionaire has acquired his roubles by his own toil and by services to the Soviet State and people.

The first person to be publicly acclaimed as a millionaire was one, Berdyebekov… [the whole of the text can be found at]

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