The Stalin Revolution

The Stalin Revolution
Industrialization and Collectivization
Kevin J. Benoy
• By 1928 production in
the USSR once again
reached 1914 levels.
• The NEP had served
a useful purpose.
• Why did Stalin decide
to change course?
• Was it ideological?
– A vast increase in
production was
needed for the
transition from
Socialism to
– Was Stalin trying to
rush the process?
• Was Stalin trying to turn the population
into a vast proletariat that would form the
social base necessary for this transition?
• Was it a
reaction to a
perceived threat
from without?
• In 1931 Stalin
said: “We must
cover this
distance in ten
years. Either we
do this or they
will crush us.”
• But in 1931,
there was no
outside threat.
• Perhaps the it had its
roots in the political
infighting that continued
even after Stalin had
come to dominate the
• The strongest proponents
of the NEP were, after all,
Rykov and Bukharin –
Stalin’s most recent
Two Goals
• Whatever the case, 1928 was a pivotal year.
Stalin announced two goals:
– Collectivization of Agriculture – Stalin wanted to
destroy the private farm and impose an industrial
model on the countryside.
– Massive Industrialization – Production would be
stepped up enormously and, in doing so, he would
destroy the power and influence of the Nepmen and
their supporters within the Party.
• The Vehicle for change in the countryside and
the cities would be the First Five Year Plan.
Centralized planning would determine
• The Party had an
inherent bias against the
• Its ideology was based on
proletarian interests.
• Stalin now accused the
farmers of not doing their
• Chief among his targest
were the kulaks – the
wealthier farmers.
• There really were not
very many wealthy
• Stalin was really just
reversing Lenin’s policy of
allying with the peasants.
• Now the agrarian problem
would be solved through
the destruction of the
peasantry in their current
• Any farmer could
be accused of
being a kulak –
even entire
villages were solabeled.
• As “class
enemies” they
could be
• Farmers were called upon to sign up for
membership on two kinds of farms.
– They might join a Sovkhoz – a state farm,
where they would serve as labourers on a
state owned farm.
– They might join a Kolkhoz, a collective farm,
which involved some sort of joint ownership
on the part of the membership.
• On January 20, 1930
there were a little over
4 million collective
farm peasants.
• By March 1, 1930
there were over 14
• The result was not
improved agriculture,
but disaster.
• Most went only
• Once signed up, there
was often no
organization ready for
• Stalin made his
“Dizzy from success”
speech, where he
called for a slowing
down to let
organization catch up.
• By May 1, 1930, the
number dropped to 6
• Yet the goal remained
unchanged. This was
delay, not retreat.
• B y the end of 1932,
60% of peasant
families were
collectivized. At a huge
cost to the peasantry.
• Collectivization
sometimes resembled
civil war.
• One OGPU (security
police) colonel told a
foreign journalist:
– “I am an old Bolshevik. I
worked in the underground
against the Tsar and then I
fought in the Civil War. Did
I do all that in order that I
should now surround
villages with machine guns
and order my men to fire
indiscriminately into crowds
of peasants? Oh, no, no.”
• Agricultural production
dropped substantially.
– In 1933 the number of
horses in the USSR was
less than half of the 1928
– In 1937, per capita
production of all farm
products was below the pre1928 level.
– Cattle numbers fell by 1/3,
sheep and goats by half.
– Horses could be replaced by
tractors; nothing could
replace other animals.
• As many as 5 million
peasants died in the
campaign and the
1932 famine – a
disaster every bit as
bad as that of 1921,
but this time there
could be no outside
help as Stalin would
not even admit there
was a problem.
• Historian JP Nettle, The Soviet Achievement,
– “…the squeeze and the Five Year Plan based on it were
not relaxed. Agricultural production fell substantially in
the early period of collectivization, but the quota of
compulsory food deliveries to the state was maintained
almost intact – the first commandment – as Stalin called
it. The difference was made up in the kitchens and
hearths of the collective households.”
• The Farmers of the Soviet Union would be made to
pay the vast cost of industrializing the country.
The money could not be raised voluntarily within
the USSR, nor could it be borrowed abroad. It was
plied from the pockets of the peasants.
• The first five year plan was adopted in
April, 1929.
• Priority was given to heavy industrial, not
consumer goods.
– Total output was to increase 250%.
– Heavy Industrial output was to grow 330%.
– Pig iron output was to increase 300%.
– Coal production – 200%.
– Electrical productionn – 400%.
• When some party
leaders challenged
the figures, Stalin
had them raised –
eventually calling
for the completion
of the plan in four,
not five years.
• Targets were
• Supply and
distribution problems
– Buildings were put up and
no equipment provided.
– Equipment rusted because
it was delivered to a place
with no building to house it.
• Shoddy products
were produced that
could not function –
just to reach
production targets.
• Sometimes
facilities didn’t move
products to their final
• Despite the problems, Stalin remained
• Economic goals must have been
secondary to Stalin.
– What he wanted was a transformation of
Soviet society.
– All were to be made subservient to the state.
– It worked.
Labour Changes
• After 1928, with the
increase in labour
demand, a system of
“organized intake” was
arrived at.
• Collective farm chairmen
could send workers into
factories when
agreements were
reached with industrial
Labour Changes
• Piece rate wages
replaced fixed salaries.
• The Marxist slogan “from
each according to his
ability, to each according
to his need” was replaced
with “from each according
to his ability, to each
according to his work.”
Labour Changes
• In 1929 Stalin fired
Tomsky and replaced
him with a loyal crony
– Kaganovich.
• The duty of unions
now came to be to
ensure higher
Labour Changes
• In 1931 and
1932, legislation
was passed
forcing workers
to go wherever
the authorities
sent them.
Labour Changes
• In 1932,
workers guilty
of one day’s
absence from a
job were
dismissed and
deprived of
their housing.
Labour Changes
• In 1932, the old
Tsarist system of
internal passports
was revived.
Now people
could only move
with police
• The Great Proletarian
Revolution had been
offered as a cure for
the horrible conditions
of the early industrial
• Now it served as an
excuse for the
introduction of just
such ills.
The New Soviet Man
• While politics and
economics had been
somewhat separated
during the NEP
period, now they were
inextricably linked.
• To fail to produce
one’s quota was not
just an industrial
failing, but a political
failing too.
The New Soviet Man
• Newspapers were full of
stories of industrial
heroes – models for all
Soviet citizens to copy.
• Stakhanov – a coal
worker over-fulfilled his
quota by 1400% (Of
course it was a set-up).
Now all workers were to
copy him.
The New Soviet Man
• Even Science was not
• Trofim Lysenko, a
plant breeder, falsely
claimed that an
acquired trait could be
passed along
• Stalin promoted him to
head of the Academy
of Agricultural
Sciences of the
The New Soviet Man
• People in all areas
had their work
allotted them.
• Even writers, filmmakers and artists
had to conform to
“Soviet Realism” –
a new conformity.
• The days of
were over.
The First Five Year Plan
• When it ended, after 4 years, the 1st 5 year Plan was a
failure in terms of reaching its targets – in agriculture and
• It did produce a new society.
• The Soviet pattern of big enterprises was established.
• All workers were subservient to the state.
• Money for foreign purchases was expropriated from
nepmen and farmers.
• Central Asia and Siberia were opened for development.
The Stalin Revolution
• Overshadowing the
Second Five Year
Plan was a far more
important event – or
series of events –
which makes its
achievements and
failures dim in
comparison – The
Great Purge.
The Second Five Year Plan
• Announced in 1933, it
was to be completed in
• It aimed to “eliminate
completely the capitalist
elements” in the USSR.
– Though by this time,
private businesses and
trade had disappeared –
except for the products of
market plots – and, of
course, the black market.
The Second Five Year Plan
• In this plan, the focus
was on producing
better quality goods,
since those of the first
plan were terrible.
• Wage differences
• In agriculture, at last,
tractors arrived at the
new Motor Tractor
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