I have my doubts about equality in Russia, but since the information about the actual situation is very scanty, one cannot be sure. I do know that ordinary Russian soldiers wear worn-out uniforms. I have learned this from our Ahmadi officers and soldiers who were posted in places where they had contact with the Russian army. According to them, the uniforms worn by the soldiers from the Asian part of the Soviet Union were particularly shabby. By contrast, the uniforms worn by Russian Marshals — as can be seen from their pictures in the newspaper — are elegant, resplendent with very expensive medals. The cost of these medals alone dispels any the notion of equality in the Soviet Union.
The state of equality in Russia can be gauged from a banquet Mr. Stalin gave in honour of Mr. Churchill when he visited Moscow during the war. Mr. Churchill, upon his return to England, said that he wished his capitalist country could afford to feed him on the same sumptuous scale as he had seen in a country with a proletarian Government. If equality really exists in Moscow, does an ordinary Russian get the same lavish dinners as are offered at state banquets? If not, it is evident that Russia has not resolved the problem of inequality, nor is there a prospect that it will in future.
The lavishness displayed at state banquets cannot be rationalised on grounds of necessity. During the war, state banquets in England were quite simple. Russia could have kept the banquet simple, but their real motivation was to impress Mr. Churchill with Russia’s grandeur. It is this attitude that frustrates the spirit of equality. This incident also suggests that the notion of equality itself has undergone change over time, and a new class of rich is emerging that is rooted in the power and influence within the Communist Party. In short, inequality persists in the Soviet Union, but its form has changed.
While reviewing the manuscript for the speech, I came across a piece of news relating to the absence of equality in Russia. I reproduce it below because it throws light on the subject and lends support to my assessment. It was reported by the Canberra correspondent of ‘The Sun’, a well-known Australian newspaper, that the Australian Ambassador to Russia gave a statement before a parliamentary party during his holidays in which he stated:
A new class of wealthy people is emerging in Russia because the influential members of the Communist Party as well as those considered technical experts get far better treatment than ordinary people.
In restaurants the food served is graded into five classes, tickets for which can be obtained according to party influence or the nature of a person’s job.
In consequence, the difference among individuals is as evident today as it was during Czarist Russia.
While in other countries the black market is run by the shadier segments of society, in Russia it is in the hands of the authorities themselves.
As a consequence, important people can obtain whatever they wish, while the ordinary labourer has to do without many necessities of life.
The Australian Ambassador subsequently expressed regret at the publication of the report on the ground that it was likely to upset Australia’s relations with Soviet Russia. However, he did not contradict it. This suggests that the expression of regret was politically motivated and was not a contradiction of the statement itself.
This report also confirms my expectations regarding the future of Russia, as described earlier. It was inevitable that a new class of wealthy people would emerge in Russia, for the differences in individuals’ capacity and calibre cannot be ignored. Because Communism lacks the restraints on power, privilege and wealth — as ordained in Islam — the new class is bound to drag Communist governments to the old ways. The only consequence of the Communist Revolution would be to give Russia a prominent place among imperialist nations in exploiting the profitable opportunities wherever available. The hope of a proletarian world government would turn into an unrealisable dream. This is so because Communist philosophy was not anchored in human sympathy, but in the goal of settling scores with the Czarist government.
I would like to say something here about the moral and cultural standard of the ordinary Russian soldiers. I learned of the case of a train carrying drums of benzene oil through Iran. When one of the drums leaked, some Russian soldiers mistook it for rum or beer, and started drinking it. About one thousand Russian soldiers ended up drinking benzene, which resulted in the death of dozens of soldiers while hundreds were taken ill. It was a display of total lack of commitment to national service; the soldiers forgot their sense of duty and responsibility to protecting their country’s property, i.e. the benzene. It also shows that the soldiers assigned in Iran were not paid enough to resist temptation and they had not benefited from Russia’s economic progress.
With respect to Russian industry, the question arises whether the nature of work is similar in every industry. Clearly, a coal miner’s work is quite different from that of a shopkeeper. Similarly, a tailor’s needs for capital are different from the needs of a man who wants to start working as a jeweller. How does Communism propose to resolve these differences? Does the government own all the capital of the shopkeepers and control all their transactions? Further, is an incompetent doctor or a lawyer entitled to charge the same fees as other doctors and lawyers? If the fees can vary according to ability, how can the presumed claim of equality be established? And if the best doctor or a lawyer cannot charge a higher fee, would everyone not rush to them for service? In this case, how can they attend to everyone?
In short, as soon as the Communist principle of equality is put into practice, a host of questions arise. We are not in a position to know how these questions may be answered in Russia. But so long as satisfactory answers are not forthcoming, the conclusion must remain that the Communist proponents of equality are wrong in their claims.