No I don’t have any counter argument.
Svetlana Voreskova
105

the dacha system is one of the best policies that any country has ever implemented

So do I get an “A” then, Prof? If so, you never did make them easy to earn.

A curious point or two about the dacha system:

During all that reading back then (‘88-’90, more or less) I hardly ever ran across any mention of dachas, other than regular observations that Party members tended to have the nicest ones, whatever they were.

(Indeed, the entirety of the masterpiece of post-Soviet cinema “Burnt by the Sun”, is set in a Party official’s family dacha. Through American eyes, the lavish prosperity, comfort and pastoral atmosphere hardly look anything like what we might call “communism”, more like what every real estate agent who ever used the words “country living” in an ad was trying to evoke, when what they were selling was a two-acre plot beside a freeway.)

I had no idea until our correspondence began in earnest a few years ago, that Lenin may well have saved Russian free-enterprise from his own revolution against it, right from its very beginning. Who knew? Certainly ol’ Vladimir Ilych couldn’t have.

Another curious point, is that aside from the staggering amounts of land granted by the Spanish crown and later by the Republic of Mexico, still owned outright by the descendants of the original grantees, elsewhere in the US the idea of “free land from the government” is little more than a fairy tale. Indeed, many if not most of the vast cattle baronies and immense farm ground held by the wealthiest of local families, were built out of the catastrophic failure of the Homestead Act.

Unlike the dacha system, homestead grantees had seven years to “prove up” their claims, meaning dig wells where there was no water, build barns where there was no lumber, produce crops where there was no labor, fertilizer, seed or roads, etc. Naturally, most of them failed to do so, and many starved or simply quit and moved away in desperate poverty in the Faustian bargain.

And, unlike the dachas, homestead lands did not go back into government possession, but onto the open market. What had been a fraud of a “free land” program for the tired and poor and huddled masses, overnight became a cheap-land bonanza for the bankers and retired judges and speculators from the east who had always dreamed of “going west” to become cattle emperors.

And meanwhile, Hispanic-Americans across Texas, New Mexico and Arizona had been made overnight aristocrats by a war they had supposedly lost, and hundreds of Indian tribes were granted lands by treaty for having lost a few of their own one after another.

And the “poor white trash” of the American west who came to populate every mill town and mine camp and cattle ranch and railway construction project those very barons made their fortunes even vaster by erecting, are to a great extent the very descendants of those who came west to try and “prove up”, and never even had a fighting chance to start with.

White privilege, I think it’s called.

So when I tell folks today, that at the time of Gorbachev’s Russia or when the Wall came down, there may well have been more households who owned real estate free and clear in Russia, than in the US, you oughta see the looks they give me.

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