price controls has been enormous. The manner of its introduction,following on the Yeltsin countercoup gave the government a period of timeduring which the population was quiescent and hence some economists cantalk of success. Shmelev stands opposed to Yavlinsky and others in seeingthe reforms in a positive light. Sober Western economists like Peter Oppenheimer, seem to go along with Shmelev. Whether this is out of ignorance or blindness it is not possible to say. It is, however, difficult tounderstand. The standard of living has dropped to a figure between onefifth and one half of what it was, and grandmothers beg in the street. Theinitial rise in prices in January 1992 was from 10 to 20 times the previousfigures. Thereafter the inflation was gradual but speeded up considerablyas the months went by to the point where it was approaching between 1,000to 2,000 per cent by November 1992. The effect was different depending onthe social group. Members of the elite who remained in their jobs or wentinto business were better off. Pensioners and members of the intelligentsiawere worse off. Those who remained in the government sector, such asdoctors, teachers, academics and research workers are considerably worseoff. Workers real incomes differed according to their situation but by andlarge most people have found that they have to spend up to 80 per cent of their income on food instead of 30 per cent before. If this is a success, thenwe can only hope that there are no more successes in Russia.
THE ENMITY BETWEEN THE TWO GROUPS
The first and most important justification has nothing to do with capitalismor socialism but with the enmity between the two major groups in the elite.Today they may be called patriots or social patriots and liberals. Some people have tried to connect these differences with Slavophiles andWesternizers and there can be no doubt of the similarity. On the one sideare people like Rasputin, the writer, and Literaturnaya Rossiya with their emphasis on Russia's culture and history while on the other are the liberalsaround the Gaidar who was in Prime Ministerial office in 1992 who standfor massive foreign investment and the possible elimination of Russianindigenous industry. The cultural clash is patent. Yet this similarity, whilemuch commented on inside Russia explains little of the social basis of thedifferences or their real late twentieth century programmes. If anything, thevery attempt to use this comparison avoids a real discussion of events. It isa reflection of the false consciousness of the Soviet elite itself.120