Social parasitism (offense)

(Redirected from Parasitism (social offense))

Social parasitism was considered a political crime in the Soviet Union, where individuals accused of living off the efforts of others or society were prosecuted. The Soviet Union, proclaiming itself a workers' state, mandated that every capable adult engage in work until retirement, theoretically eliminating unemployment.

Soviet Union edit

Russian poet Joseph Brodsky (1940–1996) was sentenced in 1964 to five years of hard labor in Arkhangelsk Oblast for "social parasitism".

In the Soviet Union, which declared itself a workers' state, every adult able-bodied person was expected to work until official retirement. Thus unemployment was officially and theoretically eliminated. Those who refused to work, study or serve in another way risked being criminally charged with social parasitism (Russian: тунеядство tuneyadstvo, тунеядцы [tuneyadets/tuneyadtsy"),[1] in accordance with the socialist principle "from each according to his ability, to each according to his contribution."[2]

On 4 May 1961 the law "On Intensification of the Struggle against Persons who avoid Socially Useful Work and lead an Anti-social Parasitic Way of Life" which criminalised parasitism entered into force.[3] Those who refused to work were critiqued as "able-bodied citizens who refuse to fulfil their important constitutional duty - to perform honest work to the best of their ability".[4]

In 1961, 130,000 people were identified as leading the "anti-social, parasitic way of life" in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.[5] Charges of parasitism were frequently applied to the homeless, vagrants, beggars, dissidents and refuseniks, many of whom were intellectuals. Since their writings were considered anti-establishment, the state prevented them from obtaining employment. To avoid trials for parasitism, many of them took unskilled (but not especially time-consuming) jobs (street sweepers, boiler room attendants, etc.), which allowed them to continue their other pursuits.[6]

For example, the Russian poet Joseph Brodsky was charged with social parasitism[7] by the Soviet authorities. A 1964 trial found that his series of odd jobs and role as a poet were not a sufficient contribution to society.

A number of Soviet intellectuals and dissidents were accused of the crime of parasitism, including Iosif Begun, Vladimir Voinovich, Lev Kopelev and Andrei Amalrik.[8]

Belarus edit

On 2 April 2015 President Alexander Lukashenko issued a decree 'On Prevention of Social Dependency', which included a tax for those categorised "social parasites". Lukashenko said the policy was brought in to respond to the half a million citizens who refused to work. The decree said the policy's purpose was "to prevent freeloading, encourage employment among able-bodied citizens, and to ensure the compliance with the constitutional obligation of the citizens to participate in the financing of state expenditures". Individuals exempt from the policy were students, minors, disabled people, retirees, prisoners, and parents with children below the age of seven or those with three or more children who were minors.[9]

Defined as people working under 183 days in a year, and excluding home-makers and subsistence farmers, the deployment of the so-called parasite tax was suspended after protests in several major urban centers.[10]

Romania edit

Nicolae Ceaușescu, President of the Socialist Republic of Romania criminalized social parasitism by decree in 1970. The regime viewed young people as potentially destabilizing and targeted those who did not fit into socialist norms. Citizens could be stopped if they were found on the street during hours when they should have been at work or school. Penalties were imprisonment for one to six months, or a fine of 1,000 to 5,000 lei. Indecent or obscene gestures or words carried penalties of 20 days to three months in prison, or a fine of up to 2,000 lei.[11]

A 1976 law broadened the campaign against parasitism. It stated that if someone able to work refused a job, he could be forced by court order to work for one year on construction sites, farms, in forests, or factories. The Miliția was tasked with enforcing the measures, and its actions were often arbitrary.[11]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Questions of criminal responsibility for the parasitic way of life (Russian), by B.G. Pavlov, Jurisprudence, Leningrad University
  2. ^ Gregory, Paul R.; Stuart, Robert C. (2003). Comparing Economic Systems in the Twenty-First Century. South-Western College Pub. p. 118. ISBN 0-618-26181-8. Under socialism, each individual would be expected to contribute according to capability, and rewards would be distributed in proportion to that contribution.
  3. ^ Beerman, R. (July 1962). "THE PARASITE LAW IN THE SOVIET UNION". The British Journal of Criminology. 3 (1): 71–80.
  4. ^ Hausmaninger, Herbert (1985). "Soviet Parasites-Evading the Constitutional Duty to Work". Texas International Law Journal. 21 (3): 431.
  5. ^ Yevgenii Zhirnov, Внушить полезный страх (To inflict helpful fear), (Russian), Kommersant, 2011-04-25(retrieved December 26, 2001)
  6. ^ "Злоупотребления законодательством о труде" Archived 2015-05-02 at the Wayback Machine, a document of the Moscow Helsinki Group.
  7. ^ Remnick, David (December 20, 2010). "Gulag Lite". The New Yorker. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
  8. ^ Those who do not work must be put under arrest (Russian), a gallery of intellectuals accused of the crime of "parasitism", Kommersant
  9. ^ Cameron, J. David; Gray, Natallia (2019). "Fighting Unemployment the Soviet Way: Belarus' Law against Social Parasites". Eastern European Economics. 57 (6).
  10. ^ "Belarus suspends 'social parasite' tax". BBC News. 2017-03-09. Retrieved 2017-09-15.
  11. ^ a b (in Romanian) Roxana Tarhon, “Cum arătau și cine erau cei care asigurau ordinea în societatea comunistă”, TVR, 28 April 2020