Last updated

The tolkachi (Russian:толкачи,IPA:  [təlkɐˈt͡ɕi] , lit.pushers) emerged in the Soviet Union as employees of enterprises whose role was to use informal connections to enable production managers to meet or manipulate targeted outputs imposed by the central economic plan. [1] They evolved in the context of the various Five Year Plans helping them to work by violating their core principles: i.e. as success was determined by meeting the targets, using persuasion to have targets reduced was a means of achieving success. [2]

The tolkachi were premier practitioners of blat , a contemporaneous Russian term to describe the procurement of favours. [3] By 1937 the tolkachi had come to occupy a key position mediating between the enterprises and the commissariat. [4]

Related Research Articles

A planned economy is a type of economic system where investment, production and the allocation of capital goods takes place according to economy-wide economic plans and production plans. A planned economy may use centralized, decentralized, participatory or Soviet-type forms of economic planning. The level of centralization or decentralization in decision-making and participation depends on the specific type of planning mechanism employed.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Soviet Union</span> Communist state in Eurasia from 1922 to 1991

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, it was nominally a federal union of twenty one republics; in practice, both its government and its economy were highly centralized until its final years. It was a one-party state governed by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, with the city of Moscow serving as its capital as well as that of its largest and most populous republic, the Russian SFSR. Other major cities included Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Tashkent, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It was the largest country in the world, covering over 22,402,200 square kilometres and spanning eleven time zones.

A mixed economy is variously defined as an economic system blending elements of a market economy with elements of a planned economy, markets with state interventionism, or private enterprise with public enterprise. Common to all mixed economies is a combination of free-market principles and principles of socialism. While there is no single definition of a mixed economy, one definition is about a mixture of markets with state interventionism, referring specifically to a capitalist market economy with strong regulatory oversight and extensive interventions into markets. Another is that of active collaboration of capitalist and socialist visions. Yet another definition is apolitical in nature, strictly referring to an economy containing a mixture of private enterprise with public enterprise. Alternatively, a mixed economy can refer to a reformist transitionary phase to a socialist economy that allows a substantial role for private enterprise and contracting within a dominant economic framework of public ownership. This can extend to a Soviet-type planned economy that has been reformed to incorporate a greater role for markets in the allocation of factors of production.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Five-year plans of the Soviet Union</span> Series of nation-wide centralized economic plans in the Soviet Union

The five-year plans for the development of the national economy of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) consisted of a series of nationwide centralized economic plans in the Soviet Union, beginning in the late 1920s. The Soviet state planning committee Gosplan developed these plans based on the theory of the productive forces that formed part of the ideology of the Communist Party for development of the Soviet economy. Fulfilling the current plan became the watchword of Soviet bureaucracy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nikolai Ryzhkov</span> Soviet-Russian politician (born 1929)

Nikolai Ivanovich Ryzhkov is Soviet turned Russian politician. He served as the last Chairman of the Council of Ministers. Responsible for the cultural and economic administration of the Soviet Union during the Gorbachev Era, Ryzhkov was succeeded as premier by Valentin Pavlov in 1991. The same year, he lost his seat on the Presidential Council, going on to become Boris Yeltsin's leading opponent in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) 1991 presidential election.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vasily Lebedev-Kumach</span> Soviet poet and lyricist (1898–1949)

Vasily Ivanovich Lebedev-Kumach Moscow, 5 August [O.S. 24 July] 1898 — 20 February 1949) was a Soviet poet and lyricist.

In Russian, blat is a form of corruption, which is a system of informal agreements, exchanges of services, connections, Party contacts, or black market deals to achieve results or get ahead.

The People's Commissariat of the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection, also known as Rabkrin was a governmental establishment in the Soviet Union of ministerial level responsible for scrutinizing the state, local, and enterprise administrations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Privatization in Russia</span> Post-Soviet reforms of the Russian economy in the 90s

Privatization in Russia describes the series of post-Soviet reforms that resulted in large-scale privatization of Russia's state-owned assets, particularly in the industrial, energy, and financial sectors. Most privatization took place in the early and mid-1990s under Boris Yeltsin, who assumed the presidency following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1965 Soviet economic reform</span> Attempt to introduce indicative planning, profits and sales to Soviet firms

The 1965 Soviet economic reform, sometimes called the Kosygin reform or Liberman reform, was a set of planned changes in the economy of the USSR. A centerpiece of these changes was the introduction of profitability and sales as the two key indicators of enterprise success. Some of an enterprise's profits would go to three funds, used to reward workers and expand operations; most would go to the central budget.

The Chinese economic reform or reform and opening-up, known in the West as the opening of China, is the program of economic reforms termed "Socialism with Chinese characteristics" and "socialist market economy" in the People's Republic of China (PRC). Led by Deng Xiaoping, often credited as the "General Architect", the reforms were launched by reformists within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on December 18, 1978, during the "Boluan Fanzheng" period. The reforms went into stagnation after the military crackdown on 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, but were revived after Deng Xiaoping's Southern Tour in 1992. In 2010, China overtook Japan as the world's second-largest economy by nominal GDP and in 2017 overtook the United States by becoming the world's largest economy by GDP (PPP).

The energy policy of the Soviet Union was an important feature of the country's planned economy from the time of Lenin onward. The Soviet Union was virtually self-sufficient in energy; major development of the energy sector started with Stalin's autarky policy of the 1920s. During the country's 70 years of existence (1922-1991), it primarily secured economic growth based on large inputs of natural resources. But by the 1960s this method had become less efficient. In contrast to other nations who shared the same experience, technological innovation was not strong enough to replace the energy sector in importance.

The Eleventh Five-Year Plan, or the 11th Five-Year Plan, of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was a set of goals designed to strengthen the country's economy between 1981 and 1985. The plan was presented by the Chairman of the Council of Ministers Nikolai Tikhonov at the 26th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">New Economic Policy</span> 1921–28 Soviet economic policy theorized by Lenin

The New Economic Policy (NEP) was an economic policy of the Soviet Union proposed by Vladimir Lenin in 1921 as a temporary expedient. Lenin characterized the NEP in 1922 as an economic system that would include "a free market and capitalism, both subject to state control," while socialized state enterprises would operate on "a profit basis."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gosplan</span> Soviet government agency responsible for economic planning

The State Planning Committee, commonly known as Gosplan , was the agency responsible for central economic planning in the Soviet Union. Established in 1921 and remaining in existence until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Gosplan had as its main task the creation and administration of a series of five-year plans governing the economy of the USSR.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Economy of the Soviet Union</span> National economy of the Soviet Union

The economy of the Soviet Union was based on state ownership of the means of production, collective farming, and industrial manufacturing. An administrative-command system managed a distinctive form of central planning. The Soviet economy was characterized by state control of investment, a dependence on natural resources, shortages, public ownership of industrial assets, macroeconomic stability, negligible unemployment and high job security.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alena V. Ledeneva</span> British sociologist

Alena Valeryevna Ledeneva is Professor of Politics and Society at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES), University College London (UCL). She is known for her studies of blat, corruption and informal practices in Russia.

Socialist economics comprises the economic theories, practices and norms of hypothetical and existing socialist economic systems. A socialist economic system is characterized by social ownership and operation of the means of production that may take the form of autonomous cooperatives or direct public ownership wherein production is carried out directly for use rather than for profit. Socialist systems that utilize markets for allocating capital goods and factors of production among economic units are designated market socialism. When planning is utilized, the economic system is designated as a socialist planned economy. Non-market forms of socialism usually include a system of accounting based on calculation-in-kind to value resources and goods.

The second economy in the Soviet Union was black market or the informal sector in the economy of the Soviet Union. The term was suggested by Gregory Grossman in his seminal article, "The Second Economy of the USSR" (1977). Economist Gerard Roland noted that as Grossman anticipated, "the logic of the second economy tended over time to undermine the logic of the command system and to lead to expanding black markets". This prediction was corroborated by the long-term analysis of the economies of Russia and Ukraine (1965–1989) by Treml and Alexeev. To a varying degree, the second economy influenced all Eastern Bloc economies.

Mayfair Yang or Yang Meihui is a Taiwanese-American cultural anthropologist of China. Her research focuses on modernity, religion and secularism, state formation, religious environmentalism, China Studies, gender studies, postcolonial studies, and media studies.


  1. Ledeneva, Alena V. (2013). How Russia Really Works: The Informal Practices That Shaped Post-Soviet Politics and Business. Cornell University Press.
  2. Alena V. Ledeneva (1998), Russia's Economy of Favours (Russia's economy of favours ed.), Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, ISBN   0521621747, OCLC   833245747, OL   683211M, 0521621747
  3. "Definition of tolkach". Wordfinder. Wordfinder. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  4. Beissinger, Mark R. (1988). Scientific management, socialist discipline, and Soviet power . Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. ISBN   0674794907.