The problem of drunkenness in Soviet Russia in the 20s of the last century and the formation of a "drunken budget" (part two)

The problem of drunkenness in Soviet Russia in the 20s of the last century and the formation of a "drunken budget" (part two)
The problem of drunkenness in Soviet Russia in the 20s of the last century and the formation of a "drunken budget" (part two)

Video: The problem of drunkenness in Soviet Russia in the 20s of the last century and the formation of a "drunken budget" (part two)

Video: The problem of drunkenness in Soviet Russia in the 20s of the last century and the formation of a "drunken budget" (part two)
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"Neither thieves, nor covetous people, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor predators - will inherit the Kingdom of God"

(1 Corinthians 6:10)

The release of 40 ° vodka had a very favorable effect on the situation related to drugs (the wedge was kicked out by the wedge), and it was started by the Decree of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR dated August 28, 1925 "On the introduction of the provision on the production of alcohol and alcoholic beverages and their trade", which allowed trade in vodka. On October 5, 1925, the wine monopoly was introduced [1]. Assessing this event in a cultural context, we can say that these decrees symbolized the final transition to a peaceful and stable life, because in the public consciousness of Russia, restrictions on the admission to the use of strong alcoholic beverages were steadily tied to social upheavals.

The problem of drunkenness in Soviet Russia in the 20s of the last century and the formation of a "drunken budget" (part two)
The problem of drunkenness in Soviet Russia in the 20s of the last century and the formation of a "drunken budget" (part two)

Accordion and bottle: cultural leisure.

The new Soviet vodka began to be called "rykovka" in honor of the chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR N. I. Rykov, who signed the above-mentioned decree on the production and sale of vodka. There was even a joke among the intelligentsia in the mid-1920s that, they say, in the Kremlin everyone plays their favorite cards: Stalin has “kings”, Krupskaya plays Akulka, and Rykov, of course, plays a “drunkard ". It is noteworthy that the new Soviet packaging of alcohol received among the people a kind of playful, but very politicized name. So, a bottle with a volume of 0.1 liters. called a pioneer, 0.25 l. - a member of the Komsomol, and 0.5 liters. - Party member [2].104 At the same time, according to the recollections of the Penza residents - contemporaries of the events, at the same time they used the former, pre-revolutionary names: magpie, swindler, scoundrel.

Vodka was launched on sale in October 1925 at a price of 1 ruble. for 0.5 liters, which led to a huge increase in its sales in Soviet cities [3].106 Nevertheless, they did not drink less moonshine. In any case, in the Penza region. According to the most rough estimates, in 1927 in Penza, each working worker (data are given without gender and age differentiation) consumed 6, 72 bottles of moonshine, and, for example, each working employee - 2, 76 bottles [4].145 And this is in general, and as applied only to men of sexual maturity, this figure should be increased by another 2-3 times [5].

The reason people liked moonshine was not only its cheapness compared to state-owned vodka. When consumed, moonshine gave the impression of increased strength from the sharp and strong impurities contained in it (fusel oils, aldehydes, ethers, acids, etc.), which could not be separated from alcohol during handicraft production. Laboratory studies carried out in the second half of the 1920s showed that moonshine contained several times more of these impurities than even raw distillery alcohol, the so-called "booze", which was withdrawn from the market under the tsarist government due to its toxicity. So all the talk about moonshine, "pure as a tear", is a myth. Well, now they drank it, and is it necessary to talk about the severe consequences of poisoning with such "drinks"? These are moronic children [6], and delirium tremens, and rapidly developing alcoholism.

Interestingly, the price of vodka has been continuously increasing: from November 15, 1928 by 9%, and from February 15, 1929 - by 20%. At the same time, the price of wine was on average 18–19% higher than vodka [7], that is, wine could not replace vodka in terms of price. Accordingly, the number of shinks immediately began to grow. The volume of production of moonshine increased. That is, the successes that were achieved by the release of state vodka were lost with an increase in its selling price!

Everyone actively drank - nemen, workers, security officers, military men, about which the Penza Sponge Committee of the RCP (b) was regularly informed [8]. It was reported: "Drunkenness among printers has firmly entered their life and is chronic" [9], "At the cloth factory" Creator Rabochiy "general drunkenness of workers from 14-15 years old", "General drunkenness at the glass factory No. 1" Red Gigant ", etc..d. [ten]. 50% of young workers drank regularly [11]. Absenteeism exceeded the pre-war level [12] and, as noted, there was only one reason - drunkenness.

But all this pales before the data on alcohol consumption (in terms of pure alcohol) in families. If alcohol consumed per family is taken as 100%, then the following increase in family alcohol consumption was obtained: - 100%, 1925 - 300%, 1926 - 444%, 1927 - 600%, 1928 - 800% [13].

How did the top of the Bolshevik Party feel about drunkenness? It was declared a relic of capitalism, a social disease developing on the basis of social injustice. The second program of the RCP (b) ranked it, along with tuberculosis and venereal diseases, as "social diseases" [14]. In this, the attitude towards him on the part of V. I. Lenin. According to the memoirs of K. Zetkin, he quite seriously believed that "the proletariat is a rising class … does not need intoxication, which would deafen it or excite it" [15]. In May 1921, at the 10th All-Russian Conference of the RCP (b) V. I. Lenin stated that "… unlike the capitalist countries, which use such things as vodka and other dope, we will not allow this, no matter how profitable for trade, but they lead us back to capitalism …" [16]. True, not everyone around the leader shared his teetotal enthusiasm. For example, V. I. Lenin wrote to G. K. Ordzhonikidze: “I received a message that you and the commander of the 14th (the commander of the 14th army was IP Uborevich) were drinking and walking with the women for a week. Scandal and shame! " [17].

It is not without reason that a decree of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and the Council of People's Commissars, adopted in May 1918, provided for criminal liability for distillation in the form of imprisonment for a term of … at least 10 years with confiscation of property. That is, it was classified as one of the most dangerous violations of socialist legality. But how many were imprisoned for 10 years? In Penza for 5 years one (!) Employee of GUBCHEK (well, of course!) [18], but no more. The rest got off with a fine and one month (2-6 months) imprisonment, while others were declared public censure and … that's it! Later, namely in 1924, it was noted: “The issue of secret distilling is catastrophic … when examining cases, one must remember that our government is not at all interested in the fact that 70-80% of the population in our country is considered amenable” [19]. That's even how - 70-80%! Moreover, it was not just anyone who noted this, but the Penza provincial prosecutor!

Interestingly, the class approach was also present in relation to those fined for distilling. According to the prosecutor's office of the Penza District of December 9, 1929, the average fine for distilling was: for a kulak - 14 rubles, for a middle peasant - 6 rubles, for a poor peasant - 1 rubles. Accordingly, the worker paid 5 rubles, but the NEPman paid 300! [twenty]

As a result, appeals were sent “from the bottom up” that the best way to combat moonshine was to release state vodka. And … the blessing of Lenin was no longer there, the voice of the people was heard. They began to produce "rocking". But nobody canceled the "fight against drunkenness" either. Alcohol production increased, but, on the other hand, its growth caused serious concern for the party and the executive branch. As a result, in June 1926, the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) issued the theses "On the fight against drunkenness." The main measures in the fight against him were the compulsory treatment of chronic alcoholics and the fight against moonshine. In September 1926, the Council of People's Commissars of the RSFSR issued a decree "On the nearest measures in the field of medical, preventive, cultural and educational work with alcoholism." It envisaged the deployment of the fight against home brewing, the development of anti-alcohol propaganda, the introduction of a system of compulsory treatment for alcoholics [21].

The "Society for the Fight against Alcoholism" was created, its cells began to be created throughout the country, the pioneers began to fight "For a sober dad!". AND ABOUT. and the place of work of people detained by the police in a drunken state. But this did not help much either. The townspeople did not pay attention to these lists.


As for I. V. Stalin, he initially supported the activities of this Society. He perfectly knew the situation in the sphere of alcohol consumption and was aware of the scale and consequences of alcoholization of the population of the country of the Soviets [22]. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the founders of the Society initially included E. M. Yaroslavsky, N. I. Podvoisky and S. M. Budyonny. However, when industrialization demanded additional funds, and the reform of the army demanded the same, he very quickly chose the least of two evils. The situation became critical in 1930, and it was then that Stalin, in a letter to Molotov on September 1, 1930, wrote the following: “Where can I get the money? It is necessary, in my opinion, to increase (as much as possible) the production of vodka. It is necessary to discard the old shame and directly, openly go to the maximum increase in vodka production in order to ensure a real and serious defense of the country … Keep in mind that serious development of civil aviation will also require a lot of money, for which, again, you will have to appeal to vodka.

And the "old shame" was immediately discarded and practical actions were not long in coming. Already on September 15, 1930, the Politburo made a decision: “In view of the obvious shortage of vodka, both in cities and in the countryside, the growth of queues and speculation in connection with this, to propose the USSR Council of People's Commissars to take the necessary measures to increase the production of vodka as soon as possible. To charge Comrade Rykov with personal supervision over the implementation of this resolution. Adopt a program for the production of alcohol in 90 million buckets in 1930/31”. The sale of alcohol could be limited only on the days of revolutionary holidays, military gatherings, in stores near factories on the days of payment of wages. But these restrictions could not exceed two days a month [23]. Well, and the anti-alcohol society was taken and abolished so as not to get confused underfoot!

The conclusion of the author of the research named in the first part of this material, on which he is based, makes the following: “in the 1920s. In the twentieth century, the phenomenon of drunkenness became widespread in Soviet cities. It captured not only the adult population, but also penetrated the ranks of minors. Alcohol abuse led to a deformation of family and work life, was closely associated with the growth of sexually transmitted diseases, prostitution, suicide and crime. This phenomenon became widespread among party members and Komsomol members. Drunkenness was especially widespread among urban residents in the second half of the 1920s. In its scale and consequences, drunkenness among urban residents, especially workers, took on the character of a national disaster. The fight against him was inconsistent. Moreover, the country's needs for funds, which had increased in the era of accelerated modernization carried out by Stalin, left no room in the minds of the leaders for "intellectual sentiments" about the people's health. The "drunken budget" of the Soviet state became a reality, and the fight against drunkenness, including home brewing, was lost, and it could not have been won in general, and even more so under these conditions."


1. From the history of the fight against drunkenness, alcoholism, and home brewing in the Soviet state. Sat. documents and materials. M., 1988. S. 30-33.

2. Lebina N. B. “Everyday life of the 1920s-1930s:“Fighting the remnants of the past”… P.248.

3. GAPO F. R342. Op. 1. D.192. L.74.

4. GAPO F. R2. Op.1. D.3856. L.16.

5. See I. I. Shurygin. difference in alcohol consumption by men and women // Sociological journal. 1996. No. 1-2. Pp. 169-182.

6. Kovgankin B. S. Komsomol to fight drug addiction. M.-L. 1929. S. 15.

7. Voronov D. Alcohol in modern life. P.49.

8. GAPO F. R2. Op. 4. D.227. L. 18-19.

9. GAPO F. P36. Op. 1. D.962. L. 23.

10. Ibid. F. R2. Op.4 D.224. L.551-552, 740.

11. Young communist. 1928 No. 4; Bulletin of the Central Committee of the Komsomol 1928. №16. P.12.

12. GAPO F. R342. Op. 1. D.1. L. 193.

13. Larin Y. Alcoholism of industrial workers and the fight against it. M., 1929. S. 7.

14. Eighth Congress of the CPSU (b). M., 1959. S. 411.

15. Zetkin K. Memories of Lenin. M., 1959. S. 50.

16. Lenin V. I. PSS. T.43. P.326.

17. Lenin V. I. Unknown documents. 1891-1922. M., 1999. S. 317.

18. GAPO F. R2 Op.1. D.847. L.2-4; Op. 4. D. 148. L.62.

19. Ibid. F. R463. Op. 1. D.25. L.1; F. R342. On. 1 D.93. L.26.

20. Ibid. F. P424. Op. 1. D.405. L.11.

21. SU of the RSFSR. 1926. # 57. Art. 447.

22. Help from the Information Department of the Central Committee of the RCP (b) I. V. Stalin // Historical Archive. 2001. # 1. S.4-13.

23. GAPO F. R1966. Op. 1. D.3. L. 145.