Report of a Group of Co-operators on a Visit to Russia: August, 1929. The Co-operative Union Limited.

Report of a Group of Co-operators on a Visit to Russia: August, 1929

Manchester, England: The Co-operative Union Limited, 1930. First Edition, First Printing. 8vo, 8 5/8 inches (212 mm) tall, 50, [1] pages, in stapled wrappers. Moderate toning to the covers, front cover and first two leaves missing small pieces of paper at upper right, vertical fold throughout, probably as a result of mailing, staples slightly rusty. Bookplate to verso of front wrapper. Pages clean and unmarked but lightly toned along the edges. A Very Good copy. Nearly two dozen members of British co-operative societies visited the Soviet Union in August 1929 as the guests of Centrosoyus (the All-Russian Union of Consumers' Co-operative Societies). This is their report, touching on such subjects as education, agriculture, the status of women, scientific work, factory conditions, co-operatives in the USSR, etc. Group members were impressed by what they saw. Given the overwhelmingly positive view they had of the Soviet Union, they apparently felt it necessary to assure skeptical readers that group members "were able to investigate matters in which they were particularly interested....Not only were they not prevented from seeing anything else they wanted to when it was humanly possible, but every facility for so doing was provided by the various co-operative organisations which entertained them." Some of their observations are jaw-dropping, given what we know now about the Soviet Union in the late 1920s as Stalin began to consolidate his power. Especially notable is the short chapter on farming, written just a few years before wide-spread famine killed millions of people in 1932-33. Visiting a commune in the Ukraine, group members reported: "The quality and condition of the cattle of this village were remarkable." Then, on a visit to a dairy farm outside Leningrad, the report said that the farm "was built in accordance with our Western ideas of cleanliness and efficiency, while most of the work is undertaken by milkmaids who were as bonny and fresh as one could possibly wish." There's plenty more along this line. All in all, a fascinating look at various aspects of the Soviet Union in 1929, written by a group of well-meaning people who no doubt genuinely believed what they saw. They were so impressed that they returned several more times and wrote additional reports on their visits. Reports from later years are more often found in the trade than this edition, which is fairly uncommon. OCLC WorldCat shows only 10 institutional holdings, mostly in the U.K. The pamphlet contains the bookplate of J.J. Harpell (1874-1959), a Canadian businessman and publisher who was active in the co-operative movement. SCARCE. Item #1427

Price: $75.00

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