During the Communist rule in Russia, the industry and land were mostly nationalized, and many of the previous landowners or industrialist were either exiled or physically exterminated. However, the capitalism didn't fully cease to exist:

  • Firstly it was given a license during the periods of the New Economic Policy, but also during Perestroika (in the form of Cooperatives.)
  • In the late years of the USSR private production was allowed on a household level, and the produce could be openly sold in a marketplace. It was also possible to own a several hundred square meters of agricultural land (aka "dacha") with a house on it.
  • Capitalism probably never ceased to exist as an illegal activity ("black markert") - from small exchanges, like paying a plumber or a fixer in cash to have repairs at home, as stealing and reselling stuff, and even as illegal industries (e.g., I have heard of a clandestine kosher bakery, although I am not sure what was its legal status.)

The questions are:

  • What percentage of the Soviet economy continued to exist in capitalist form? (This is perhaps hard to answer about the clandestine part, but estimates might exist.)
  • Was this continued existence simply tolerated or was it consciously allowed (or perhaps even encouraged?) under Marxist vision - perhaps as a transitory state between Capitalism and Communism.
  • Was such an activity in most cases built from zero or can we speak of a continuing existence of a bourgeois class (e.g., passing enterprises as inheritance to their children), and how much of this class survived from the pre-revolutionary period?

In regard to the last question, and as a reason to think that some of the bourgeoisie could survive from pre-revolutionary times, I would like to quote Lenin from The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky:

There can be no equality between the exploiters — who for many generations have stood out because of their education, conditions of wealthy life, and habits — and the exploited, the majority of whom even in the most advanced and most democratic bourgeois republics are downtrodden, backward, ignorant, intimidated and disunited. For a long time after the revolution the exploiters inevitably continue to enjoy a number of great practical advantages: they still have money (since it is impossible to abolish money all at once); some movable property — often fairly considerable; they still have various connections, habits of organization and management, knowledge of all the “secrets” (customs, methods, means and possibilities) of management, superior education, close connections with the higher technical personnel (who live and think like the bourgeoisie), incomparably greater experience in the art of war (this is very important), and so on, and so forth.

(emphasis is mine.)

  • 1
    In the late years of the USSR private production was allowed the term 'private production' is pretty ambiguous, but with what I understand by it, it was always allowed in the USSR. You always could 'produce' something with your personal means (like breeding rabbits e.g) and then sell it on a local market. I've never heard that this was ever banned. Although after WW2 till Stalin's death there were high taxes on such activities (so that people reportedly refrained from such 'production').
    – d.k
    Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 10:06
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    Interesting topic, but I doubt it can be answered in the SO format. May take hundreds of pages to answer
    – d.k
    Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 10:08
  • @d.k This is indeed one thing that I was wondering about - whether selling your own stuff on a local market was tolerated under Stalin as much as in the 80s. Regarding your second comment - I would be greatful for a reference to a good text, even if it cannot be answered concisely here.
    – Roger V.
    Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 10:20
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    If you read Russian, take a look here: ru.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/…, especially regarding local markets ("колхозный рынок", yes, these were legal under Stalin) and percentages. Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 23:51