Transactoid From Canada, joined Mar 2001, 788 posts, RR: 0 Posted (13 years 11 months 6 days ago) and read 1266 times:
Where did the stereotype of low quality, badly built Russian machinery come from? Was this a pre-cold war or post-cold war notion? Were there specific events that led the development of this stereotype?
Ilyushin96M From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 2609 posts, RR: 11
Reply 9, posted (13 years 11 months 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 1181 times:
I think anyone who has been in the former Soviet Union has the impression that every building was about to collapse, and every car was about to rust away into oblivion. The roads were crappy and filled with potholes, and the general level of cleanliness everywhere was not high at all. Russian-made television sets are known to spontaneously combust, as are stereos and other electronic equipment. However, some consumer goods - ie, mixers, vacuum cleaners, etc. - are built like tanks and indestructible. And Russian aircraft - both military and commercial - as well as spacecraft are very tough. Just look at the MIR space station, despite being ancient, having stayed in orbit much longer than it was originally supposed to.
Nowadays, Russian cars are much better than they were, in terms of reliability and build quality. The roads are being paved to better standards, and buildings are being re-painted and plastered, and remodelled inside using Western building materials and methods.
There is an underlying reason for this stereotype of bad quality in Russian machinery and goods. This is the massive industrialisation that took place under the totalitarian regime of Iosif Stalin. Stalin used fear to motivate factory directors to meet his ridiculous goals for industrial development. What really happened was, the goals were not met, or the goods necessary were produced, but much too quickly for them to be made in a quality manner. Stalin never knew the factories weren't meeting their goals, because the paperwork showing what was produced was inaccurate. So...Soviet industry essentially slipped through the cracks. Pollution controls, of course, were never enforced, and goods and machinery were produced quickly, but in a half-assed, sloppy fashion so that they fell apart or were not very reliable. All of this to satisfy Stalin's mad rush for progress.
The truth is, Russian goods and machinery have come a long way. But now, most consumers prefer Western goods, because they have always been better than their Russian equivalents. Russian factories have had to scramble to make products that people will choose to buy, now that they have a choice, and that has not been easy.