You might talk about Ford in that model. I think they probably
were involved in finally getting Henry Ford. I guess originally
they could not convince him to actually invest and build a factory
in Russia, so, you might tell the Henry Ford story and how that
factory was built.
Henry Ford is a god to the Soviets, because he is something that
they want to be, an authoritative authoritarian advanced Capitalist
with modern technology who knows how factories work, especially
factories with heavy industry which produce strategic goods.
The Soviets both make fun of Henry Ford as the quienisential Capitalist
and they envy him for something he has that they want very badly.
Ford, himself , has very little sympathy for the Communist cause,
although I think he does recognize the Authoritarism as potentially
useful. What the Soviets are able to do is to convince Ford
that since he can't build anything at home in the United States,
there are opportunities for him in the Soviet Union. The
primary goal, originally, is for automobiles, vehicles.
This, then, moves into tanks and the possibility of using the
automobile factories to produce tanks and other military equipment.
Ford is not necessarily interested in building up the Soviet military,
but he is interested in selling his technology and his factories
and he enjoys the platform and the notoriety that comes from being
a major player between the two countries. The word 'Fordism'
becomes a slogan inside the Soviet Union and in a way, it defines
the whole epic. 'Fordism' means, large factories producing , perhaps,
low quality, but big quantities of goods which can be used to
further industrialize. So, the goods become inputs for other
industrial goods as well as finished products in some cases. So
everything that we recognize as part of modern life, not only
automobiles, but refrigerators, street lamps, staircases made
out of steel, large buildings made out of glass and steel, all
of these indispensable material basis for modern life is what
Ford represents to the Soviet Union. Moreover, he represents it
in a factory setting whereby there is a hierarchy and control
over the work force and costs can be controlled as well perhaps,
but, certainly output can be expanded and the more output the
better of these goods. So, Ford takes like wildfire to the
Soviet Union and it is mutual. He himself sees the Soviet
Union as a place he can bring his own philosophy and he thinks
they accept this philosophy, whereas, they are using him for their
own purpose. Looking back on the epic, Ford remains in the
Soviet mind later on after the war and even today in post-Soviet
Russia mind as the symbol of the era because of his assembly lines,
because of his factories, because of his heiarchy and because
of his modern industrialism, which is across countries and has
little to do, in many ways with the political system, whether
Democratic or Authoritarian.
Talk about, we see them unloading Ford tractors before they built
the factory, the plants, you might talk about, I guess he was
exporting tractors there, or automobiles, probably not, you might
talk about that.
The Soviets would try to identify the technology which they thought
they acquired by sending people abroad to look at it, by leafing
through magazines of the period. The more famous it was,
the more likely it was the Soviets would discover. At first,
they would try to purchase it, then they would try to acquire
it some other way, the capability of producing it on their own.
Ford was a famous, international personage. Anything associated
with Ford caught the Soviet eye. They were very happy to
buy his tractors. They were even happier to acquire the capability
of producing his tractors, especially since those assembly lines
could be converted to make takes with a little bit of extra technology.
As with Ford, so were the other Capitalist firms. Perhaps
you buy their product, then you try to interest them in selling
the capability to produce their product and as we said earlier,
this was attractive to the Capitalists because no one else at
the time , during the Great Depression, was very much interested
in their product.
They tried to get him to invest money originally and he would
not do it. You might talk about that nuance to the story
The Soviets were very confused about what type of model was appropriate
in their collaboration with the Capitalists. They did not
have private property, they perhaps could. The Soviets
were not sure how to attract the Capitalists. The Soviet
Union was non-Capitalists, meaning it did not allow private property.
So, on what terms were the Capitalists to be invited in?
There was a model of concession, whereby, you would sell, release,
for a certain amount of time, the rights to operate whatever it
was was built , but, ownership would remain in Soviet control.
How much concession? 51%? 75%?25%? Moreover, what if the Capitalist
decided that concession was not enough? They wanted ownership,
meaning a long term stake and control. The negotiations
are rather comical. The Soviets are not sure what it is
they want ,on what terms they are going to be able to attract
the Capitalists and the Capitalists themselves, including Henry
Ford, have certain goals that they are pursueing. In the
end there are tremendous shifts, difference of opinion, contracts
that are proposed and then are taken away, these terms are no
good, those terms are no good, but the bottom line is the Soviets
refuse to grant ownership to the Capitalists. They retain
ownership, therefore they want to purchase only the technology
and the know how for installation.