Author`s name Olga Savka

The New Totalitarian Capitalism

Communists' control pales in comparison with the control of transnational corporations

The word "totalitarianism" was used frequently in the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980s. After the collapse of the allegedly totalitarian USSR the market era was launched. That was the time, when Russian people leant the meaning of the word, albeit it became the corporate, market totalitarianism.

As it turned out, the totalitarian approach to employees was typical for Western large transnational corporations, the ground of the global economy. McDonald's is one of them. The girl named Dasha did not work at Moscow's McDonald's restaurant on the Pushkin Square for long. "McDonald's is the absolute anti-utopia. No matter what you do there, everybody is watching you - your managers, your colleagues, who want to have a plus in their control lists. Every employee receives a mark at the end of the working day. Excelling workers are encouraged with Mcmoney that can be used for buying McDonald's collectibles. When they congratulate someone on their birthday, they put a number next to the person's name - this is like a concentration camp. Newcomers' salary makes up a little more than $160 a month. The working atmosphere cannot be compared to communism: everyone works for themselves, everyone depends on the managers. At first you feel like a drop in the sea, but then you get used to it, you try to be better than others. On the whole, it creates the impression of a democratic situation. Russian McDonald's President Khamzat Khasbulatov can work at a cash desk any time. The McDonald's where I worked, on the Pushkin Square in Moscow, is the largest in the world - up to 15,000 people come to eat there daily. A lot of employees give way to depression."

A manager is the prime enemy of an employee. However, a manager is simply a slave of the corporate machine too. Managers do not produce anything. A manager can be easily substituted with another one. Managers live with the help of employees' mistakes. A large transnational capital produces an army of faceless bootlickers - they are even more revolting than Soviet party officials. Yet, it might seem to be a very good perspective at first sight, a career growth.

Russian beer giant Baltika became a bright example of the new type of industrial relations. As far as the organization of the "capitalist competition" is concerned, Baltika does not differ much from transnational corporations. The chocolate empire Cadbury has factories in Russia. People work there under horrible conditions, with very low ($100-200) salaries. There is no freedom at all there, the corporation has strict rules about employees' clothes and hairdos, it is not allowed to have a love affair at work, and so on and so forth. Everything is strictly controlled, and communist party committees pale in comparison.

Managers are obliged to go to fitness clubs, swimming pools and so on. They just need to have a plastic corporate card for it. At first people take it for a pass to the capitalist paradise, but then they become very disappointed.

In Western countries, there is a special term to indicate the consequences of the totalitarian treatment of employees - "mobbing." This term implies pressure, persecution, psychological oppression of employees on the part of their supervisors and colleagues. It might also be a deliberate strategy of the management, if a company wants to make an employee quit the job. If an enterprise fires someone for economic reasons, it will have to make a dismissal pay.

The totalitarian organization of labor in large corporations sometimes makes its personnel become rude to customers. About six months ago, I personally fell a victim of that in an Ikea megastore in Moscow. I had an old Ikea bag with me - the one that was left from my previous visit to the store. The security stopped me near the cash desk very quickly. They did not let me say a word - they simply took me to a special room where they search suspicious customers. They checked everything that I had in my bag and in my pockets. The even checked intimates parts of my body too.

During the Soviet era, political prisoners (Tupolev or Korolev, for example) had an opportunity to organize a group of specialists to work with. When they were released, they had several projects ready, and the Soviet industry used them very quickly. The goal to establish a technically developed society was mobilizing people's best qualities even in very bad situations. Modern corporations have very trivial goals - profit and nothing else but profit. They is why they are so passionate when it comes to suffering losses.

Grigory Debezh