Is the Rise of the Dacha the Fall of Communism?

The Dacha is one of the most iconic Russian terms, alongside matryoshka dolls and cheburashka. If you begin to study Russian, it will be one of the first words you will learn, as it is scattered across beginners text and workbooks. So what exactly is a dacha? According to Websters’s dictionary its “a Russian country cottage used especially in the summer”, what the dictionary definition fails to encapsulate is how desirable it is to own a dacha. Similarly to how Americans typically want to own a mansion Russians want to own a small summer house in the countryside.

Retrieved from:https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/06/Narva-J%C3%B5esuu_2010-05-01.jpg

The picture to the left is an old abandoned Dacha that I found on my trip to Estonia. I have no idea what year its from, unfortunately I wasn’t brave enough  to hop the fence and take a look inside to see if there are any clues to the origins .

 

 

 

If you do enjoy visiting abandoned places and would like to do it in a more legal way, you can go on a guided tour of abandoned dachas outside of Moscow. The dachas are from the 80’s and encapsulate life                                                        before the crash of the Soviet                                                                                                        Union, complete with Cheburashka                                                                                              dolls and pictures of Lenin.

In a newspaper article from the “Current Digest of the Russian Press” the author Stepanyan discuses the issue of socialism vs private property such as the dacha. Stepanyan quotes from Marx frequently through out the article such as,

“The distinguishing feature of communism is not the abolition of property in general but the abolition of bourgeois property.*** We Communists have been reproached for wanting to abolish personally acquired property earned by one’s own labor, property that is alleged to be the basis of all personal freedom, activity and independence.*** But does wage labor, the labor of the proletarian, createany property for him? Not at all.*** Webyno means intend to abolish this personal appropriation of the products of labor that serve directly for the reproduction of human life, leaving no surplus wherewith to command the labor of others. All that we want to do away with is the miserable character of this appropriation.***”*

So in terms of Marx owning a dacha is a no go. However, they do take into account that the abolishment of personal property cannot be done immediately it needs to occur in stages.  The Soviet union never claimed to be a communist nation they always viewed themselves as a socialist nation striving for communism. In the Constitution it even protects personal property under Article 10: “The personal property right of citizens with respect to their labor earnings and savings, dwellings and subsidiary economies, household articles, and articles of personal use and convenience and also the right of citizens to inherit personal property are protected by law.” …
To conclude the article comes to terms with the fact that under communism there should be no personal property. So owning a personal summer home should not be allowed.  It insists that there will be a day where the notion of owning a car or dacha will simply be outdated, so there is no need to rush the process.
Sources:
https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/soviet-dacha
https://dlib.eastview.com/browse/doc/13818522

5 Replies to “Is the Rise of the Dacha the Fall of Communism?”

  1. Katelyn, I love the image you included and the personal experience you have with the topic. It’s interesting how the dacha became such a phenomenon despite its somewhat anti-communist background. Why do you think they became so popular during this time period?

    1. I think they are some sort of escapism for Russians also the gardens a dacha has became the main source of food for many Russians.

  2. Why do you think the fall of the Soviet Union caused a decrease in usage of dachas? I looked at some of the houses on the link you provided for us and they must have been beautiful when it was a live and families dwelled within them.

  3. I like your close reading of the newspaper article about private property! And the photograph of the abandoned dacha, which is so haunting. The idea of the dacha is actually an old one — it predates the revolution (to the 18thc) as a site of leisure and respite from the city. Nick wrote about this last time (but the post may not have made it into the weekly edition). Anyway, check this out: https://nschuff7.wordpress.com/2018/04/02/dacha-the-soviet-dream/
    And Soviet citizens did love and use dachas — regardless of Marx’s perspective on private property.
    I will bring a photo of a “real” Soviet dacha to class tomorrow. Dachas proliferated after the collapse of communism when it became so much easier (possible) to buy land and build on it. The abandoned dachas also mostly date to the post-Soviet period — they were abandoned (or never finished) during the economic crises of the 90s.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *