I find accounts on life in erstwhile communist nations endlessly fascinating. The image of a group of workers, after having returned from the factories, clad in the same state-prescribed night gown, moving to the state-run community halls to watch plays prescribed by the state is one that never cease to haunt me.
Following is an excerpt from Slavenka Drakulic’s How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed.
“Generally speaking, in any communist country there are not many things to throw away. … You recycle, recycle, and recycle, redefining an object (pantyhose for example) by turning it into something else, giving it one function after another, and you throw it away only when you have made absolutely sure (by experiment, of course) that it can’t be used anymore. …They (objects to collect) can basically be divided into several categories: general objects (old cloth, shoes household appliances and furniture, kitchen pots, baskets, brooms, newspapers); objects that normal people in normal countries usually throw away (otherwise known as packaging – bottles, jars, cups, cans, stoppers and corks, rubber bands, plastic bags, gift wrappings, cradboard boxes); foreign objects (anything from a foreign country, from a pencil or notebook to a dress, from chewing gum to a candy wrapper); and objects that might disappear (a very broad and varying category, from flour, coffee, and eggs to detergent, soap, pantyhose, screws, nails, rope, wire, perfumes, notepaper or books – you simply never know, you never can predict what will be next, which, after all, is the primary reason for collecting).”
The comments posted on this entry in BonoboLand brought me back to an old chicken or egg question, to which I never found a convincing explanation. Do the habits, mindsets, customs and culture in general of a society influence the mode of economic organisation (market based versus centrally planned) they choose to follow or does the latter come to influence the former..?