LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Volume 20, No.3 - Fall 1976
Editors of this issue: Antanas Klimas
Copyright © 1976 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
CONTEMPORARY SOCIAL PROBLEMS IN THE COLLECTIVIZED LITHUANIAN COUNTRYSIDE
BENEDICT V. MACIUIKA
University of Connecticut
This paper will attempt to identify and analyze the reasons for the development of two important social-cultural problems of the contemporary Lithuanian countryside: the unusually rapid increase of the older segment of the rural population, and the massive flight of youth from the rural areas to the cities, both of which, of course, are closely interrelated.1 These problems, in their intensified form, have been especially felt in Lithuania during the past decade and have been conditioned not only by local circumstances. The framework of collectivized agriculture and its subsequent modifications imposed by the Soviets on Lithuania since 1949 have influenced and enhanced these phenomena to a considerable degree. One should note that problems caused by rapid rural migration to urban areas are observable in all parts of the globe. They are endemic among all economic and ideological systems of the world. The question simply is one of intensity and degree.
The documentation and data illustrating the present conditions in the rural areas of Soviet Lithuania are drawn mainly from published Soviet sources.2
Recent data indicate that at the beginning of 1974 Soviet Lithuania had a total of almost 3.3 million inhabitants, of whom about 1.5 million, or about 45 per cent, still lived in rural areas.3 Of the latter about 60 per cent were living in large agricultural production units 1,248 kolkhozes (collective farms) and 286 sovkhozes (state farms).4 The old, traditional rural production processes which had commonly existed before collectivization have been largely eradicated. Remnants of traditional, rather primitive manual cultivation methods still can be found on the private plots of the members of the collective farms, the so-called "kitchen gardens," but not on the collectively worked fields of kolkhozes and sovkhozes.
The changes in production characteristics and the introduction of collectivized agricultural institutions and practices during the past twenty five years in the Lithuanian countryside have not been universally followed by desirable changes and improvements in the social-cultural conditions. In fact, the current conditions in rural Lithuania leave much to be desired: in a number of widespread regions they seem to turn increasingly into a picture of rural slum areas, approximating conditions found, for example, in the Appalachian region of the United States. These agricultural slum conditions, one should add immediately, are not mainly the result of low money incomes on the part of rural population. They have appeared and have been expanding in the past decade for other reasons, the genesis of which, their current manifestations, as well as their impact and portent on the Lithuanian countryside we shall attempt to present and analyze within the framework of this paper.
One of the key problems confronting the Soviet Lithuanian countryside is closely related to the rapid deterioration of earlier natural demographic proportions: the rural population of Lithuania is aging perceptibly much faster than its urban counterparts. From a demographic point of view, a community generally is regarded as already old, when the share of older age groups exceeds 12 per cent.5 In Lithuania already in 1970 about 357,000 rural inhabitants, or about 23 per cent of the total, were of pensionable age.6 Among the families living in kolkhozes already in 1972 one-third was without anyone in the able-bodied age groups,7 and in 1969 there was on the average only one able-bodied age group (16-55 year old) male worker for two kolkhoz households.8 The natural rate of increase among the rural population during the 1959 - 70 census period was already smaller than the urban natural population increase, although traditionally in Lithuania the situation was the exact reverse.9 Finally, concerning the old age population distribution pattern, it has to be noted that, as early as 1970, two-thirds of all pension age people in Lithuania lived in rural areas, and only one-third in urban areas,10 although the current rural-urban population ratio is about 45:55.
The demographic facts stated above suggest that not only the rural inhabitants in general, but also the labor force engaged in agricultural production in particular, has aged considerably. Indeed, the available data indicate as much, and furthermore they suggest that the currently already very unsatisfactory situation does not show any signs of improvement. The present average age of people engaged in agricultural work is about 45 years.11 Only one-fifth of those employed in agricultural labor tasks is younger than 30 years.12 Already in 1972 thirty per cent of all field brigades of the republic's kolkhozes did not have a single male worker in the able-bodied age groups.13 There are indications which suggest that at the present time some of the Soviet Lithuanian kolkhozes and sovkhozes have no young up to 30 years of age workers at all.14 Further deterioration of this situation is well indicated by the fact that about 20 - 25,000 people, mostly drawn from the younger generation, move annually from rural areas into the cities, contributing further to the already severely unbalanced age-group distribution in rural areas.15
In addition to demographic imbalance the rapidly aging village population presents a taxing problem of social care and social welfare measures needed to maintain and support this rapidly increasing population group. Successful solution of this problem, or lack of it, serves as an excellent example to the younger generation in the rural setting as to what this generation can expect for itself from the current social care policies, and from conditions which it creates.
The existing social care and social welfare measures leave much to be desired from the point of view of their adequacy. As it is known, kolkhozniks employed in agricultural work only from 1965 onwards began to obtain old age pensions even of minimal size. The pension sum paid out under the old age pension plans in Soviet Lithuania has been very small: in 1965 the pensions averaged about 12 rubles per month.16 By 1972 it rose somewhat: the 251,000 kolkhozniks who received pensions that year obtained on the average about 23 rubles a month.17 It should be pointed out in this connection, that in order to maintain a minimum living standard in Soviet Lithuania already in 1968 a monthly expenditure of about 45 rubles per capita was necessary.18
From the above data one can reasonably conclude that only a rare kolkhoznik or sovkhoznik can live on his old-age pension proceeds alone. Therefore "senior citizens" in rural areas, i.e., those who have reached pensionable age, have three choices open to them to supplement their pensions and thus avoid poverty. The first one is to attempt to continue working for the kolkhoz even after reaching pensionable age. This seems to be a popular path: about one-half of the people of pensionable age in Soviet Lithuanian countryside continue doing precisely that they continue their employment until their health permits.19 The second avenue is to attempt, also until one's physical condition permits, to supplement income from the "kitchen garden," that is from the 0.60 hectare (about 1.4 acre) plot of land, and from the animals and fowl kept on it. The work on the "kitchen garden" is typically primitive and heavy; it is manual, with a spade, a rake, a hoe and a scythe, and therefore not everyone in the older age groups can successfully manage it. Mechanized means of cultivation such as a horse, a tractor or a truck sometimes cannot be obtained from kolkhoz management in time, and therefore old people are forced to "organize" such mechanized assistance "unofficially," usually for a bottle of vodka from willing tractor and truck drivers.20
Finally, the third avenue, which apparently is being chosen very reluctantly by the old rural people, is to depart from their homesteads to live with their children who already live in the cities, or to live with their other relatives in cities or various urban-type settlements. This road generally is more frequently chosen by those older people whose individual homesteads have been designated for destruction, or for a move into another location, generally a central kolkhoz settlement. Soviet data indicate, that about 40 per cent of such families do not build residential homes in rural areas anymore.21 Paraphrasing the words of a Soviet Lithuanian poet, the old parents move to the city just to die there.22
From the above it can be seen that the fate of the great majority of the old age rural inhabitants in Soviet Lithuania is not very attractive at the present time. None of the alternatives available are particularly desirable and the younger generation, seeing what is happening to their elders, especially those in ill health, is frightened and anxious to avoid similar fate for themselves even if in the distant future.23
Together with the aging of the rural population a process which is a social problem by and of itself one notices a problem of economic labor productivity closely connected with it. The problem is that of the rapidly increasing shortage of labor in younger age-groups whose presence is absolutely necessary in rural areas in order to complete the agricultural production tasks most efficiently and on time. In 1974 the total number of younger people (up to 30 years of age) engaged in rural agricultural production was about 60,000 individuals.24 At the current levels of mechanization this number was clearly insufficient to perform all the necessary tasks on schedule during the season of the most intense agricultural operations. The shortages were most noted in areas of work with modern machinery and in animal husbandry. For example, during the spring sowing of 1974 there were only 94 tractor drivers for each 100 tractors available.25 During the summer months of the same year the rural countryside was about 6,000 tractor drivers and mechanics short of the complement required for timely completion of summer agricultural tasks.26 As it is known, in the fall months of both 1972 and of 1974 literally thousands of students of urban schools and universities were mobilized for emergency harvest work in rural areas mainly for harvesting potatoes and other root crops.27 Although in 1973 about 27,000 agricultural specialists: technicians, engineers, agronomists and veterinaries were employed in rural areas,28 their presence did not begin to cover the full needs of agricultural specialists of various types.29
As mentioned above, only one-fifth of all those employed in agriculture in 1973 were people less than 30 years of age. Even this relatively small share is decreasing since an ever larger numbers of youth attempt to leave for the city using any and all means for this purpose. Some of the younger people, although still living in rural areas, already work full time in the cities or in industrial plants located in smaller towns and settlements. Available data indicate that at present about 10 per cent of the non-agricultural labor force,30 or about 125,000 people,31 a considerable number of them of the younger generation, daily commute for work in the cities. This is especially true of population in the rural areas located in the immediate vicinity of the larger cities, which, contrary to the rural areas located farther away, typically show a sizable population increase instead of the usual population loss registered in the latter.32
The main reason which forces youth to flee the rural areas is the immensely powerful attraction of the urban life common to the young people in all corners of the globe. In Soviet Lithuania this is not purely a question of increasing one's economic earnings, since many flee to the city whose earnings in rural areas are quite satisfactory, or even exceed those which they typically would earn in city conditions. For example, milk-maids, piglet and calf growers, tractor and combine drivers can and do earn up to 250 - 300 rubles and more a month.33 The average kolkhoznik's monthly wage is about 100 rubles a month,34 while the wages of the lowest paid, unskilled rural field hands are about 50 rubles a month.35 It has been calculated that a similar amount a kolkhoz or sovkhoz worker obtains in money and in kind from his cultivated kitchen garden, from the fowl and animals kept on it, thus in effect doubling his wages.36 The latter earnings, of course, are not a "free subsidy" but require additional time and effort on his part. Taking into account the fact, that in 1973 the average wage of one employed in industry in Soviet Lithuania was about 145 rubles a month,37 one can reasonably conclude that lack of increased earning opportunity was certainly not one of the prime reasons forcing the rural youth to flee to the city.
Generally, the opportunities for youth to leave rural areas are greater than for the older people, especially those who have families with pre-school age or school-age children. Single men are aided in this task by military draft measures. After having completed the required military service the males can choose their places of settlement, and many choose not to return to the rural areas. In addition, youth can flee to the city by getting a general education or specialized skills and training. They can join the huge construction projects, which are perennially thirsty for young working hands, or they can go to the rapidly growing industrial plants which typically build communal single's housing not adapted to married couples, and especially not to couples with children.38 All these opportunities are being utilized by youth, because they know that a Lithuanian folk saying is very much applicable to their situation: "Flee while you are young, otherwise you will be stuck like a pig in a fence and won't be able to move neither forward nor backward."39
In addition, the currently still difficult living conditions in the collectivized Lithuanian countryside, and the substantially changed outlook of the younger generation towards agricultural work in general, and to the life style which it entails in particular, tend to push the youth away from the rural areas into the cities.
Among the living conditions which today's youth dislikes is the current rural housing situation. Over half of the rural population still lives at the present time in widely scattered individual homesteads of which there are still about 200,000.40 From 265,000 residential houses located in rural homesteads as of 1967, about 100,000 houses already at that time were completely in a catastrophic disrepair, slum-like, condition. The state in which they were in is not at all surprising, since about 165,000 of them were of timber construction and had been built in the nineteenth century.41 In addition to the prevalent state of disrepair and obsolete construction, the individual homestead settlement pattern by and of itself is in many ways no longer acceptable to the large scale kolkhoz and sovkhoz working and living condition requirements. Production and labor productivity considerations apart, living on an individual homestead makes, for example, child care work for employed parents extremely inconvenient, as distances to day nurseries and schools are typically long. For the working parents distances to their places of work and to shopping as well as consumer service centers are also considerable. One has to walk to work, to a store, or to school, in rain, mud, cold and snow conditions which are especially frequent during the inclement weather months in the fall, winter and spring. The roads generally continue to be very poor, since 83 per cent of rural local roads in Soviet Lithuania are still without allweather utilization capability.42
Meanwhile, the number of undesirable individual homesteads is diminishing very very slowly, currently at the rate or about 4.000 households a year.43 This means that the transfer of the homestead inhabitants into central, more modern twentieth century living conditions will be possibly completed by the end of this century only. The slow rate of individual homestead eradication is mainly caused by the large costs. It has been estimated that in order to move or to demolish all remaining individual homesteads, and then to reconstruct them in new locations a sum of about 5.3 billion rubles would be necessary.44 If one wanted to create modern, urbanlike twentieth century conditions in rural Lithuanian countryside, in effect to modernize it by building the necessary infra-structure: adequate roads, providing modern conditions of production, of communications, shopping and consumer service facilities, the total cost would be about 15 billion rubles.45 Lack of availability of such astronomical sums means that a considerable part of Lithuania's rural inhabitants will still have to spend long years of their existence in substandard conditions, which are generally no longer acceptable to today's youth.
The majority of rural inhabitants who have moved to the newly created central kolkhoz and sovkhoz rural settlements also do not live under contemporary urban living conditions. In many of the newly established rural settlements life is still very primitive. At the present time, in Soviet Lithuania there are perhaps a total of about two dozen show case rural central settlements equipped with modern living amenities, this means with central running water supply, perhaps central heating, sewerage, asphalted streets and sidewalks, shrub and tree adorned environment. These sample settlements constantly appear in press reports, photographs, they are shown to the visitors.46 Available Soviet data indicate that in the great majority of other even newly created central settlements living conditions are much poorer. For example, in 1973 from the 130,000 residential houses and apartments already on location in the 3,870 rural settlements (which comprised 38 per cent of the total of 342,000 residential houses and apartments existing in Lithuania's rural areas) Only 17 per cent had running water, only 6 per cent had sewerage systems, and only in one-fifth of these settlements, streets were either asphalted or in any way paved.47
Most of the newly constructed settlements had no trees, no decorative greenery. They were literally drowning in dust raised by traffic on the well travelled central streets, generally with potato and beet plantings under the windows of residential houses, instead of the traditional ornamental flowers.48 The kitchen gardens in the new settlements were also smaller, since only 15 ares (about one-third of an acre) were assigned to the inhabitants nearby their residences, while the remainder was allocated in more distant fields, away from the settlement. All this created considerable inconvenience for the inhabitants in caring for their personal livestock and fowl, especially if the settlement contained buildings which, following the current urban residential models, were several stories high. The water as well as fodder preparing ingredients had to be carried several stories up and then, after preparation, down again into the fields where several hundred yards away the location of personal livestock sheds was permitted. These conditions and regulations created great difficulties (especially during inclement weather), and incurred inhabitants' dissatisfaction, demonstrating clearly that urban housing patterns cannot be easily and mechanically transferred to meet the requirements of the rural areas.49
The present levels of intensity in agricultural work, and the working conditions prevailing in rural areas in general, appear to be also unacceptable to the present day youth. High wages or salaries, as already mentioned, are not the only index of acceptability of a given task or a job; contemporary youth wants work which is prestigious also. Furthermore, they are very much interested in conditions and hours during which given work is performed, the kinds of demands it makes on physical and mental capacities, what opportunities does it offer for after work leisure time, weekend and vacation activities.50
The majority of the best paid jobs in agricultural operations are being performed under conditions and with demands on time and energy which appear to be unacceptable to the rural youth. For example, although the milkmaid's job is a relatively well paid one, it typically starts at 3 a.m., and although the lunch break is quite lengthy, the working day continues until 8 p.m.51 Milkmaids and other animal husbandry workers in many instances still have to perform very heavy and dirty tasks by hand, relying on their brawn, as it were, because out of 11,000 animal sheds in existence, only about 2,000 have been adapted to mechanized care of animal needs.52 As a result the workers have to resort typically to pitchforks for fodder distribution and for cleaning up of accumulated manure. Around animal sheds in most instances there is plenty of dirt, mud, smell, and one cannot get into the animal sheds without high boots, since roads leading to the sheds, the yards and spaces around them are very seldom paved.53 Animal husbandry workers living farther away from their charges have to go to work back and forth on foot in complete darkness and frequently on mudpaths.
Also, working with animals usually means working without free weekends and without annual vacations. Kolkhozniks who work in animal husbandry typically have about 320 working days a year,54 which means that many of them have to work without normal days of rest or vacations.55 Meanwhile, in the considerably less remunerative field work the annual average of days worked is about 150.56 Such long working hours diminish significantly the attractiveness of high wages, especially when after a long working day in animal sheds one still has to meet other kolkhoz imposed obligations, for example "weeding norms" in sugar beet or flax fields,57 to take care of one's own kitchen garden, animals, fowl, and meet the needs of one's family. In addition to the above considerations, it appears that very few of the present day youth are interested in "smelling the rest of their life" of- either animal manure, or of cows and their milk. According to those with experience, these smells are so powerful and so permeating that neither sauna baths, nor any kind of perfume is able to eliminate or mask them.58
The relatively well paid work of mechanizers: of tractor and combine operators and mechanics-repairmen is also performed in most instances under relatively difficult and demanding working conditions which are hazardous to one's health. During the summer agricultural high season the working days are very long, typically lasting 12 -14 hours. During the high season one gets neither weekend nor vacation rest. To work on or with agricultural machinery, especially that of the older models, is not easy: summer heat, dust emanating from plants, fields and roads, vibration and noise caused by powerful engines, the need to constantly regulate and repair engines which is closely connected with dirt stemming from grease and oil, all demand considerable physical stamina. During the winter time although the work load and its length typically diminishes, which by the way leads to the unacceptable decline in monthly earnings, the repairs which have to be performed on engines and machinery are frequently done under conditions which are difficult and unhealthy. The shortage of properly equipped and heated garages and repair shops forces the repairmen to lie and work on cold and dirty ground, which in turn leads rapidly to various "professional" illnesses and diseases, especially among the men of more advanced age.59
Another consideration is the fact that after heavy daily work, even if one still had any energy and time left, the rural youth lack opportunity to spend this time in a more interesting and culturally rewarding fashion. This is especially true in winter time and during inclement weather seasons. Closer social contact among youth is made difficult by the fact that in the huge-sized kolkhozes and sovkhozes there are only about 15-20 younger unmarried people left in each, and these are spread far and wide in the huge expanses of the production units. Distances among settlements and among individual homesteads are long. During good weather, under conditions typically prevailing in the summer only, they can be covered successfully with bicycles and motorcycles. However, during the fall rains or the spring thaws the mudpaths and unimproved field roads prevailing in rural areas become an obstacle which cannot be negotiated even by modern means of transportation. The "big city" culture, even if it were more easily accessible by car or bus, such as concerts, sports events and theater, apparently hold little attraction after one's working day is completed, even for rural intelligentsia,60 not to say anything about the great majority of rank and file kolkhozniks. It appears that the most frequent entertainment in the countryside is watching television about 70 per cent of all families in Soviet Lithuania do have a television set.61 Among other rural relaxations and entertainments the unmarried youth is interested in and participates are dances which typically are organized weekends in the "houses of culture;" private hard drinking parties, as well as card games are also quite popular.62
In addition to the abovementioned difficult working and rural living conditions there is also an important social-psychological factor which tends to push the rural youth away from the village. This has to do with the typical outlook, or widespread opinion of the public in Soviet Lithuania, which is also prevalent in the rest of the Soviet Union, concerning agricultural work and occupations. It is a widespread view in the eyes of the public that this work, and professions connected with it, do not give an individual performing it any status or prestige. In Soviet Lithuania the term "peasant" or "kolkhoznik" in practice have become equivalent to swearwords and are used as such. Those younger people who have remained to live and work in rural areas are usually "looked down on" by others. They generally are considered as having little personal ambition, little ability, even perhaps as being physically or mentally defective.63
It is no wonder that Lithuanian youth simply does not want to live or work in rural areas. The young people do not want to be tied down to their kitchen garden, to their cow, pigs and chickens, to the daily chores that owning them and the kitchen garden entails. The majority of them demand working and living conditions which would be "urban like": a work week of 40 hours duration, regular two-day weekend rest, several weeks vacation during the summer months, interesting leisure time opportunities after work. And work itself, according to the prevailing beliefs, should not be too difficult, physically not too strenuous, interesting and certainly not "black," not dirty. They have an aversion to performing dirty jobs in agricultural operations not only with the machinery, but especially with a pitchfork.64
There is an additional psychological factor which after some two decades of introduction of agricultural collectivization is beginning to push people away from the rural areas into the cities. This is a strong feeling of uncertainty and of distrustfullness towards any kind of future in the rural countryside, which emanates from the bitter life experiences over the past two decades. It is the growing belief in the consciousness of the people that one cannot rely to build a safe, and stable, secure future in the rural countryside neither for oneself nor for one's family members. This feeling of uncertainty, of mistrust about what the future might bring is a direct result of collectivization and its accompanying changes which have been introduced into the Lithuanian countryside.
The process of collectivization itself, which has been intensively carried out during the 1949 - 51 period, was a heavy blow to the majority of peasants in Lithuanian villages and homesteads. However, the pattern of collectivized agriculture did not remain stable during the last quarter of a century. From the time of mass collectivization until the present day, every few years, there always followed new instructions "from above," from Moscow, concerning rural life, its organization, reorganization, together with a new slew of directives concerning the organization and constant changes of production processes, of crops, of new techniques to be instituted. All of this has left a considerable - destabilizing effect on the lives of rural inhabitants, on their work and settlement patterns. There was experimentation galore in all these fields, without any input from the rural population itself; they were not asked about the impact this experimentation would have on their lives, on their consciousness. Their welfare was little considered in all of these experiments. They were supposed simply to adjust to all new legislation, all instructions, decisions, directives, which like rain continuously fell "from above" on the heads of the rural inhabitants.
At the beginning only small-sized kolkhozes were being created. Immediately after that the kolkhozes were being increased in size and amalgamated. The work patterns being organized on the kolkhozes were at first on a brigade unit, then on a functional "stream," and presently on a centralized control basis. At first kolkhozes were introduced, then they and their settlements were being amalgamated. After that the largest kolkhozes were again divided up. Later followed kolkhoz transformation into sovkhozes, and additional subsequent adjustments in their territorial size continuing into the present day.65 Most recently a new decision has been taken with respect to production processes and settlement patterns. Currently the greatest official hope to solve the agricultural production problems on the All-Union scale, and therefore in Soviet Lithuania, is through the introduction of mixed agricultural "complexes" large scale specialized agricultural - industrial "agricultural production" factories where in one location there would be maintained 800 -1,200 cows, 5,000 hogs, etc.66
In addition to all periodic changes in the organization of agricultural work processes and in its main directions of expansion, a further destabilizing factor has been added through sharp and drastic changes over the last twenty years in the policy of individual homestead removal and creation of appropriate rural settlement patterns. At first homesteads were removed and their rural population resettled into relatively small 200 - 400 inhabitant size rural settlements. During the most recent period the plan is to move them only into large rural settlements, containing 1,000 or more inhabitants.67 These drastic changes and lack of stabilization in the policy of planning rural settlement patterns has had an unfortunate result: one-third of the already moved and presumably already "permanently" resettled individual homesteads will have to be moved again, in accordance to the newly instituted "planning" requirements...68
All of the abovementioned changes, modifications, and continuous pushing of rural people around have importantly contributed to the prevailing feelings of uncertainty and lack of belief in the future stability of the countryside among the rural inhabitants of Lithuania. The feelings of rural people can be compared to the trees which have been transplanted several times the likelihood of their successful "taking" to new conditions, from the psychological point of view, constantly diminishes over time.69 They are asking themselves constantly: what will the next day bring? What winds and from which direction are going to begin to blow again? What is going to be changed next? What will be the next "planned" move? Does it really pay, under the present conditions, to try to give one's best, to try to build a future for oneself in a rural area?
The majority of rural inhabitants, and especially the youth, find no answers to these and similar questions, concerning their own future. As a result, not wanting to risk their own private lives and careers, they flee from this condition of permanent uncertainty, from the collectivized village, utilizing all means and opportunities available to them. Others, who for some reason cannot flee directly and immediately, at least move closer to larger cities, and begin commuting to them, awaiting passage of the five-year period, necessary for a legal transfer of habitation to the city on a permanent basis.70
Considering the above conditions who are then the inhabitants remaining in the rural areas of Soviet Lithuania and what seem to be the reasons for their stay? As shown above, the largest group is the older population; most of their adult children already live in the cities. In addition, there are the middle aged 30 - 50 year adults with families, who, because of various personal reasons or lack of opportunity to move away, have decided to stay in the rural areas. Alsoj there are quite a number of "rural overseers": mostly kolkhoz chairmen and sovkhoz directors provided "from above," also various subordinate agricultural production unit chiefs and "imported bosses." There are quite a number of technical and agricultural production specialists, but the majority of the latter appear to stay in the rural settings only for a short while: after having fulfilled their minimal postgraduation obligatory service period, a large number of them "drop out" and go to the cities.71
From among the younger people, as already indicated, only a few are remaining, and even those who have stayed, as Soviet sources indicate, are usually, on the average, less educated, less physically fit, less personally ambitious, and generally of lesser ability than the youth who had fled to the city.72 Among them there are males who had not been taken to the military service; youths who have so slowly advanced through the grades of the primary or eight-year school education that by age sixteen they have not been able to graduate successfully. The latter phenomenon is illustrated well by the fact that among the sixteen-year old youths who enter rural tractor driver schools about 60 per cent do not even have an eighth grade education,73 and even from this group apparently many do not stay in rural areas for any length of time. They move on into various construction jobs, into factory work, or simply "drop out" without graduation.
Thus we are confronted with a paradoxical situation in the social - cultural composition of the population of Soviet Lithuanian countryside. The highly mechanized and technically advanced, modern production processes, the larger and more complex agricultural production units call for people with higher technical qualifications, more specialized agricultural education, people who are capable, intelligent, and ambitious, and at the same time willing to stay and work in rural areas permanently.74 What is left available, however, in the countryside is rural population less and less adept to handle highly demanding modern agricultural production processes.75 Even among those high school graduates who enter the Academy of Agriculture, which trains the majority of Lithuania's agricultural specialists with higher education, about half of the entering class is comprised of "C" average grade students, i.e., those who have graduated from high schools with minimal grades.76 The conclusion suggests itself that even this most highly trained group does not really contribute positively to the solution of the long term problems raised by the above cited paradox.
Such are the main social - cultural problems which, basing one's analysis on Soviet made available data, are prevalent in the contemporary countryside. The emerging picture is rather dark and the long range outlook seems to be a rather pessimistic one. The attempts made by the Lithuanian people, and especially by its youth, to remove themselves from these oppressive, gray, and rather hopeless conditions, rather than to merely vegetate and work in a rural setting without any enthusiasm is not surprising and can be well understood. People everywhere avoid situations similar to those depicted above. No one wants to live in mud, disorder and boredom, lead a life of uncertainty and drudgery, filled with often unnecessary and always unrewarding fatigue. People everywhere avoid it. They try to avoid it also in Soviet Lithuania. Those who are unable to avoid it and are forced to tolerate such conditions do it sadly, according to the words of a Soviet Lithuanian poet:77
"Rivers flow among swamps and forests, lakes are
steaming at dawn
a herd of greys grazes in the meadows - this is my land.
And furrows, which will never end, just as endless are our woes.
I sing at the plough, and my words as fallen leaves
are fluttering downwind over the grey Lithuanian landscape,
sorrowful, where songs and people are mourning."
1 This is a revised version of a paper delivered to the Fifth Conference of the Institute of Lithuanian Studies on May 17, 1975, at Cleveland, Ohio.
2 A reasonably accurate overview of the conditions in Soviet Lithuanian rural areas can be obtained by a careful and critical perusal of the following works: M. Gregorauskas, Tarybų Lietuvos žemės ūkis (Vilnius, 1960); A. Barkauskas, Kaimas, kultūra, buitis (Vilnius, 1967); G. Butkus, Mašinų traktorių stotys Lietuvoje (Vilnius, 1973) and J. Tamošiūnas, Lietuvos žemės ūkio raida ir jos problemos (Vilnius, 1974). Valuable analyses can be found in journals, such as, Žemės ūkis, Liaudies ūkis, Švyturys, and perceptive summaries and reports on topics concerning life in rural areas in journals and newspapers: Literatūra ir menas, Kultūros barai, Pergalė and Valstiečių laikraštis. The latter also publish useful belles letters material on rural life themes.
3 CSV prie LTSR Ministrų Tarybos, Lietuvos TSR ekonomika ir kultūra 1973 metais: Statistikos metraštis (Vilnius, 1974), p. 13.
4 Ibid., p. 168, 172; and A. Stanaitis, P. Adlys, Lietuvos TSR gyventojai (Vilnius, 1973), p. 85.
5 P. Paurazas, V. Dzūkas, "Kaimas 'augina' miestą," Švyturys, No. 19 (1972), p. 12; K. Blaževičius, A. Kondratas, "Gyventojų senėjimo procesas Lietuvoje," Liaudies ūkis, No. 2 (1974), p. 52.
6 Calculated from TsSU pri Sovete Ministrov SSSR, Itogi vsesoiuznoi perepisi naseleniia 1970 goda, vol. II (Moscow, 1972), pp. 46-47.
7 Švyturys, No. 19 (1972), p. 12.
8 Tiesa, October 11, 1969.
9 P. Adlys, "Lietuvos kaimo gyventojai," Mokslas ir gyvenimas, No. 5 (1971), p. 4.
10 Liaudies ūkis, No. 2 (1974), p. 53.
11 Tiesa, April 13, 1974.
12 Švyturys, No. 23 (1974), p. 7.
13 Švyturys, No. 9 (1972), p. 12.
14 Švyturys, No. 23 (1974), p. 7.
15 Kultūros barai, No. 7 (1973), p. 5; Stanaitis, Adlys, Lietuvos TSR gyventojai, p. 85; Švyturys, No. 21 (1974), p. 18.
16 Liaudies ūkis, No. 7 (1967), p. 209.
17 Calculated from Liaudies ūkis, No. l (1975), p. 21.
18 Liaudies ūkis, No. 10 (1968), p. 307. In 1965 average per capita expenditures for food alone were about 30 rubles a month (S. Ginaitė, Tarybų Lietuvos gyventojų pajamos [Vilnius, 1970], p. 177), while a minimum level budget for supply of material consumption goods, presumably excluding services, comprised 52-54 rubles per month (ibid., p. 276).
19 Prom 219,000 kolkhozniks who in 1973 were receiving old-age pensions (LTSR Ekonomika ir kultūra 1973 m., p. 328) 112,000 continued to work (Tiesa, December 19, 1974).
20 Tiesa, May 30, 1973. Cf., "Sodybinio sklypo dabartis ir ateitis," Švyturys, No. 9 (1972), pp. 12-13.
21 P. Paurazas, "Gyvenviečių statybos ekonominis efektyvumas," Liaudies ūkis, No. 11 (1974), p. 328.
22 B. Mackevičius, Literatūra ir menas, July 21, 1971, p. 10.
23 See the vivid descriptions of life in Soviet Lithuanian countryside contained in the contemporary belles letters, eg., a novel by Vyt. Bubnys, Po vasaros dangum (Vilnius, 1974) and the short stories by Vyt. Rimkevičius, Girėnai (Vilnius, 1971), and also his 27 Išpažintys (Vilnius, 1975).
24 Tiesa, February 15, 1974.
25 R. Cemnolonskis, "Ką sodinsim už vairo?" Švyturys, No. 18 (1974), p. 8.
26 Švyturys, No. 23 (1974), p. 7.
27 Tiesa, November 9, 1972 and September 15, 1974.
28 LTSR Ekonomika ir kultūra 1973 m., pp. 300-301.
29 Tiesa, June 12, 1973. Cf., Alg. Dulkinas, "Tu nusigręžei, Alma mater," Švyturys, No. 18 (1973), pp. 7-8.
30 Liaudies ūkis, No. 7 (1970), p. 203.
31 Švyturys, No. 10 (1972), p. 11.
32 P. Gaučas, "Gyventojų pasiskirstymo dinamika Lietuvoje," Liaudies ūkis, No. 8 (1970), p. 239.
33 Eg., Tiesa, February l, 1972; Komunistas, No. 12 (1972), p.55; Švyturys, No. 18 (1974), p. 8.
34 Liaudies ūkis, No. 5 (1974), p. 130; Mokslas ir gyvenimas, No. 10 (1974), p. 1.
35 Calculated from Liaudies ūkis, No. 5 (1974), p. 152.
36 Liaudies ūkis, No. 10 (1973), p. 310; Švyturys, No. 20 (1969), P. 9.
37 LTSR Ekonomika ir kultūra 1973 m., p. 294. In 1973 the average monthly wage in sovkhozes was 108.2 rubles (ibid.).
38 Eg., Tiesa, January 13, 1971 and Komunistas, No. 7 (1973), p. 54.
39 Cf., Bubnys, Po vasaros dangum, p. 57.
40 Tiesa, July 23, 1974.
41 Alg. Baltušis, "Melioracija, vienkiemiai, jų problemos," Žemės ūkis, No. 4 (1967), pp. 2-3.
42 Mokslas ir gyvenimas, No. 9 (1969), p. 19.
43 Calculated from Tiesa, October 11, 1973.
44 Calculated from P. Paurazas, "Gyvenviečių statybos ekonominis efektyvumas," Liaudies ūkis, No. 11 (1974), p. 329.
45 Calculated from K. Blaževičius et al., "Šakių rajono kaimą pertvarkant," Liaudies ūkis, No. 4 (1973), pp. 113-115. The total capital investment into all branches of Lithuanian economy during the 1941 -1973 period amounted to 13.2 billion rubles (LTSR Ekonomika ir kultūra 1973 m., p. 271).
46 Cf., Švyturys, No. 4 (1971), p. 18.
47 Calculated from Švyturys, No. 11 (1974), pp. 328-329. Cf., Liaudies ūkis, No. 2 (1973), p. 51.
48 Cf., A. Kazlauskas, "Kaimas uniformoje," Žemės ūkis, No. 10 (1968), pp. 15 -16; A. Žemaitytė, "Kaimas kvepiantis mėtom," Literatūra ir menas, August 24, 1974, p. 10.
49 Cf. Žemės ūkis, No. 2 (1966), pp. 32-33; Tiesa, January 6, 1966; S. Vaitiekūnas, Tiesa, March 29, 1973; "Kodėl nesibaigia sodybų tuštėjimo metas?" Kultūros barai, No. 12 (1974), pp. 30 - 33.
50 Cf., J. Brukas, "Kad nesentų kaimas," Švyturys, No. 20 (1969), pp. 9-10; R. Cemnolonskis, Švyturys, No. 18 (1974), pp. 8-9; Švyturys, No. 23 (1974), pp. 7-8.
51 Žemės ūkis, No. 10 (1967), p .16. Švyturys, No. 16 (1972), p. 8.
52 Tiesa, November 15, 1974.
53 Cf., Tiesa, April 12, 1973 and November 21, 1974.
54 Gimtasis kraštas, November 29, 1973. 65 Švyturys, No. 2 (1975), p. 18.
56 Gimtasis kraštas, November 29, 1973. In 1971 in Soviet Lithuanian industry a worker worked on the average 230 days (Tiesa, March 1, 1973).
57 Cf., Tiesa, June 19, 1973, October 17 and December 24, 1974.
58 A. Būdvytis, "Kaimas kultūros kryžkelėj," Kultūros barai, No. 3 (1973), p. 30. Cf., Rimkevičius, Girėnai, p. 8.
59 Cf., Vyt. Skebas, "Mechanizatorių kadrų komplektavimas žemės ūkyje," Liaudies ūkis, No. 4 (1973), pp. 112-113; P. Rečiūnas, "Mechanizatorių sudėties kitimo tendencijas," Komunistas, No. 8 (1973), pp. 45-50; R. Cemnolonskis, "Ką sodinsim prie vairo?" Švyturys, No. 18 (1974), pp. 8-9.
60 A. Šidlauskas, "Gyvena periferijoj inteligentas," Kultūros barai, No. 3 (1969), pp. 15 -16. Cf., Kultūros barai, No. 7 (1973), p. 66; Nemunas, No. 4 (1974), p. 40; Literatūra ir menas, October 12, 1974, p. 10.
61 Tiesa, February 27, 1976. Cf., Kultūros barai, No. 6 (1972), p. 58.
62 Tiesa, February 20, 1973. Cf., e.g., a series of journalistic reports by A. Judžentis, "... (Laiškai iš kaimo)," Kultūros barai, No's 2, 3, 4, (1971), pp. 24-29, 43-48, 27-30. Šidlauskas, Kultūros barai, No. 3 (1969), pp. 15-16; Rimkevičius, Girėnai, pp. 31-44.
63 Bubnys, Po vasaros dangum, p. 233.
64 Cf., J. Brukąs, "Kad nesentų kaimas," Švyturys, No. 20 (1969), pp. 9 - 10; A. Vitkūnas, "Jaunimo įsidarbinimas ir tolesnis mokymasis," Komunistas, No. 3 (1969), p. 32; K. Kairys, "Kitus augindami patys augame," Švyturys, No. 13 (1973), pp. 4-5; Interview ''Kaimas 'augina' miestą," Švyturys, No. 7 (1973), pp. 24 - 26.
65 Cf., M. Leonavičius, "Kodėl kolūkiai mažesni už tarybinius ūkius?" Liaudies ūkis, No. 3 (1974), pp. 83-85.
66 Cf., R. Songaila, "Mūsų kaimo vystymosi keliai," Komunistas, No. 8 (1974), pp. 7-13; Tiesa, February 12, September 16, 1975.
67 Tiesa, "Kur žmonėms patogu," February 8, 1975. Cf., A. Baltušis, "Dėl kolūkių ir tarybinių ūkių gyvenviečių kūrimo," Komunistas, No. 10 (1972), pp. 60-66; S. Jonikas, "Kokia turi būti kaimo gyvenvietė," Komunistas, No. 5 (1973), pp. 47-51; K. Blaževičius, V. Zauka, "Lietuvos kaimo gyvenviečių vystymosi tendencijos," Liaudies ūkis, No. 9 (1973), pp. 268-270; V. Petkevičius, "Dievulis ne vagis," Kultūros barai, No. 9 (1973), pp. 9-10.
68 Tiesa, January 28, 1975. Cf., Komunistas, No. 8 (1973), p. 60.
69 Cf., Bubnys, Po vasaros dangum, pp. 331, 366; P. Vasiliauskas, "Kaimas mūsų mielas," Pergalė, No. 10 (1971), pp. 93-119; Kultūros barai, No. 8 (1973), p. 21; Literatūra ir menas, January 12, 1974, p. 10.
70 Liaudies ūkis, No. 6 (1973), p. 168. Cf., Liaudies ūkis, No. 11 (1974), p. 339.
71 Švyturys, No. 6 (1973), p. 27. During 1965-1973 in Soviet Lithuania a variety of schools graduated a total of 37,000 agricultural specialists and 84,000 mechanizers; during the same period 9,300 specialists and 29,000 mechanizers left rural employment (calculated from P. Griškevičius, Komunistas, No. 2 , pp. 24-25).
72 From the 60,000 youths employed in agriculture in 1974 (Tiesa, February 15, 1974), 15,100, or about one-quarter, did not even have an eighth-grade education (Komunistas, No. 11 , p. 58). Cf., Komunistas, No. 5 (1973), p. 47; A. Staponkus, "Kaimas margu miesto rūbu," Kultūros barai, No. 5 (1973), p. 17.
73 J. Šliavas, "Mechanizatorių kadrų ruošimas žemės ūkiui," Liaudies ūkis, No. 10 (1973), p. 308. Cf., Literatūra ir menas, February 17, 1973, p. 10; Kultūros barai, No. 12 (1974), pp. 31-32.
74 From 1,000 tractor drivers who in 1970 worked in Lithuania 712 did not even have an eighth-grade education; from 1,000 milkmaids 855 did not have it (calculated from P. Adlys, "Keli bruožai darbininko portretui," Švyturys, No. 2 , p. 7).
75 Kultūros barai, No. 9 (1973), p .10. In 1974 from the graduates of the eight-year schools only 0.9 per cent and from the graduates of secondary schools of general education only 1.3 per cent remained to work in rural areas (Liaudies ūkis, No. 11  p. 339). The educational level averages of the population working in Lithuania's countryside both in 1959 and in 1970 were the lowest among all union republics (TsSU pri Šovėte Ministrov SSSR, Sel'skoe khoziaistvo SSSR; Statisticheskii sbornik [Moscow, 1971], p. 673).
76 Švyturys, No. 18 (1973), pp. 7-8.
77 Alb. Žukauskas, "Žemė," Literatūra ir menas, May 4, 1973, p. 4. Cf., J. Paukštelis, Tiesa, January 16, 1973.