Stalin 5 Year Plans by malj


									Stalin – 5 Year Plans
Why did Stalin want to industrialize the USSR so quickly?
     To increase military strength
          o To fight a modern war, a country had to have a well-developed industrial base to manufacture the
              huge quantities of weapons and munitions required.
     To achieve self-sufficiency
          o Stalin wanted the USSR to be less dependent on the West.
     To increase grain supplies
          o Stalin wanted to end the dependence of the economy on a backward agricultural system which was at
              the mercy of the peasantry.
     To move towards a socialist society
          o According to Marxist theoreticians, socialism could only be created in highly industrialized states where
              the overwhelming majority of the population was workers.
     To establish his credentials
          o Stalin needed to prove himself as successor and equal of Lenin.
     To improve standards of living
          o Stalin wanted to catch up with the West, both militarily and in terms of the standard of living that people

The NEP had run out of 'push' by the end of the 1920s
     A quick review of the NEP: It abolished grain requisitioning, reopened small-scale businesses, removed the
      ban on private trade, and allowed state control of heavy industry.
     By 1926, the excess capacity in industry had been used up, meaning that all factories, machinery and
      equipment that had existed pre-1914 had been put back into use as far as this was possible.
     A massive injection of capital was now needed to move the industrial process forward
     The NEP and the Peasants
          o Grain supply had increased enormously and the fear of famine had receded during the implementation
               of the NEP but peasants were not producing the quantities of grain the government needed for
          o Grain was not reaching the market because:
                      Agriculture was still backward
                      The land had been shared and divided after the revolution which led to smaller holdings, and
                          so people ate most of what they produced
                      Relationship between the government and the peasants deteriorated towards the end of the
          o Government tries a new tactic to encourage peasants to put more grain on the market:
                      It stopped collecting taxes from the peasants in the form of grain and made them pay a money
                      At the same time, the government clamped down on private traders who were paying
                          peasants two times what the state was paying for grains.
                                So, peasants had to sell at lower prices to the state and had to sell more than before
                                   to pay their taxes
          o This tactic worked at first, but peasants got wise. They didn't need surplus money because there was
               little to buy, as prices had drastically increased, so they withheld their grain waiting for higher prices.
          o Stalin sent out officials, backed by the police, to seize grain.
                      He got grain but the relationship between the peasants and the government was breaking
                          down and there was substantial resistance to Stalin's actions.
                      Despite resistance in the party to Stalin's methods, he used them again the following year
                          after the poor harvest in 1928 forced bread rationing.
     The NEP and urban workers
          o Though workers had an 8 hour working day and other social benefits, wages had only just passed their
               pre-war level by 1928.
          o Thousands of workers did not have jobs at all, and high unemployment persisted throughout the NEP.
                      Women were hit particularly hard by the NEP as many had been forced out of their jobs when
                          the Red Army was demobilized or been forced to move from skilled to unskilled work.
          o Housing was still a major problem and most workers lived in overcrowded, poor-quality houses and
          o    There was also a mounting crime problem in the cities, because jobless youths dealing with the turmoil
               of war formed gangs.

The Great Turn
     At the Fifteenth Party Congress in December 1927, the announcement of the first Five-Year Plan marked the
      end of the NEP.
           o The plan demanded more rapid industrialization, setting high targets for industry to achieve.
           o In agriculture, the plan called for collectivization.
     The NEP had provided 'breathing space' while industry and agriculture recovered from the dismal depths of
      War Communism, but was not developing an industrial, urban, proletarian, socialist society.
           o From the Bolsheviks' point of view, it was creating the wrong type of society (it encouraged private
               markets, private enterprise, etc).
     The majority of party members had accepted the constraints of the NEP but had never liked it, so they warmly
      welcomed Stalin's 'let turn' in his policies for the modernization of industrialization of the USSR.
           o The Five-Year Plans represented a significant step towards achieving the goals of the revolution.
     The fear of invasion encouraged the party to support more rapid industrialization.
           o By 1927, relations with France and Poland had deteriorated, Britain had broken off diplomatic relations
               and there were suspicions about Japanese intentions.
     The change from the NEP to Five-Year Plans is called the Great Turn because it marks a major shift in the
      direction o the Soviet economy towards central planning, or a 'command economy.'
     However, the land was to be socialized through collectivization; no longer would it be owned by individual
     Industrialization would lead to the growth of the proletariat, along with new cities and new wealth.
     Lenin had also featured planning by the center in his economic plans when he had assumed direct control of
      industry after 1917 and had kept control of the 'commanding heights' of industry (large-scale industries,
      banking, etc.) under the NEP.
           o But it was the way in which Stalin carried out his policies that was new. He took planning to an
               unimaginable level.
     Policies of the Great Turn wrought great changes in the Communist Party and the relationship between the
      party and the people.
           o Some historians maintain that this was the point the Soviet Union 'went wrong' - that it now followed a
               path that led to totalitarianism, tyranny and inhumanity.

How were the 5 year plans organized?
     The state decided what was produced, where it was produced and when it was produced.
     The key feature of the plans was the setting of production and output targets which industrial enterprises had to
     4 main industrial sections between 1930 and 1934:
          o Heavy industry, light industry, timber, and food.
     Based on a top-down method of management.
     Gosplan (the State Planning Commission):
          o Originally set up in 1921 as a forecasting agency.
          o Given the job of working out figures - the inputs each industry would need and the output each had to
               produce - to meet overall targets for the plan.
     Senior party officials appointed and dismissed planners and senior managers, often for political rather than
      economic reasons.
     Lion's share of investment went into:
          o Coal, iron, steel, and other heavy industry.
          o These would provide the power, capital equipment and machine tools that could be used to
               manufacture other products.

     Soviet citizen's asked to sacrifice their standard of living for longer-term objectives for two reasons

     It seemed to the Stalinists that Western industrial revolutions had been underpinned by the initial development
      in coal, iron and steel.
     They were driven by the need to develop industries that could protect the USSR in an attack from West.
     3 important features:

     The plans were always declared complete a year ahead of time.
     Huge new industrial center were constructed virtually from nothing.
     Spectacular projects were conceived to demonstrate the might of the new Soviet industrial machine.

     A large number of companies sent specialists, engineers, and skilled workers to help to erect new factories or
      exploit new resources.

     Henry Ford helped the Russians to develop a car industry.

     The Great Depression made American capitalism appear weak, while the apparent success of the 5 year plans
      offered hope to the working people.

What did the 5 year plans achieve?
     First 5 year (actually it was 4 years) plan: Oct. 1928 - Dec. 1932
           o Emphasis on heavy industry (coal, iron, steel, electricity, cement, metals, timber).
           o In reality, many targets were not met.
           o The Great Depression had driven down the price of grain and raw materials so the USSR could not
               earn enough from exports to pay for all the needed machinery.

     Second 5 year plan: Jan. 1933 - Dec. 1937

             Heavy industries still featured strongly, but new industries opened up and there was greater emphasis
              on communications, especially railways to link cities and industrial centers.
             1st 5 year plan was too extreme, but this one was much more realistic.
             Food rationing ended and families had more disposable money.

     Third 5 year plan: Jan. 1938 - June 1941 (interrupted due to WWII)

             Ran for only 3.5 years because of the USSR's entry into WWII. Heavy industry emphasized due to
              need of armaments.
             Difficulties at the beginning of 1938 due to harsh winter and diversion of military materials.
             Gosplan was thrown into chaos when the purges created shortages of qualified personnel.

     There was competition between Gosplan and Vesenkha (the Supreme Economic Council), who were bidding
      each other up with higher targets for 5 year plans.
     "Bourgeois specialist":

     Old, pre-1917 managers, engineers, and technical staff who had survived the NEP because of their skills and
     Identified as saboteurs causing hold-ups, breakdowns, and general problems.
     They were slowly uncovered and imprisoned.

How did workers fare under the plans?
     Workers believed they were better off and generally liked the plans.
          o They were prepared to make sacrifices to build a new world which would probably bring real benefits
              only for their children.
     Women dominated some professions, particularly medicine and school teaching.
     The less well educated, especially tough ex-peasant women became laborers and factory workers.
     Paid less and given less opportunities as men, but happy nevertheless that they were able to work.
Quicksand society
     During the first 5 4 year plan the majority of the new workers were peasants that had been forced off the land
      collectivization. These people wandered looking for work and lodging, if they could find a better job then they
      would move on to another job.
     Skilled workers competed for higher wages or other perks. These workers moved easily between jobs.
     People did not stay with the same job for a long time.
     A skilled worker shortage was also one of the biggest problems employers faced. In 1951 it was estimated that
      less than 7% of the workforce were skilled.

How did the party respond to its labor problems?
     wage differentials and incentives, piece work, training, tough measures, forced labor, propaganda and
     wage differentials and incentives rewarded people who stayed put in their jobs (wanted to avoid quicksand
     tough measures dealt with absentees; the measures included dismissal, eviction from factory owned home, or
      loss of various benefits. Causing damage or leaving a job without permission would equal prison.
     forced labor was the solution to labor shortages
     the huge campaign for propaganda was to help raise productivity of workers.

The Stakhanov Record
     Alexi Stakhanov after 5 hours of uninterrupted work he had cut 102 tons of coal( which was twice the normal
     2 hours after Stakhanov finished Petrov assembled a party committee at which he was acclaimed for his world
      record for productivity; he also recieved a bonus of 200 roubles, had his name prominently displayed on the
      mine's honor board.
     due to Stakhanov competitions were set up for miners to emulate his achievements.
     the Stakhanovite movement was seen as a way of compelling management to adopt new production methods
      and increase rates of production.
     when Stakhanovism started, workers resented the increased norms and there were increased tension between
      managers and workers.

     had to fulfill their targets and would do anything including bribery and corruption, to do it.
     could only fulfill target if workers co-operated.
     managers pressures were targets, increased labor norms, books must balance, and wage incentives
     managers economic pressures were labor shortage, shortage of vital raw materials, competition from military
      spending, fall in foreign trade

Living Standards
     throughout the thirties Central Planning system never managed to improve the standard of living
     workers lived in barracks in awful conditions
     overcrowding was very intense in sub standard accommodation as building materials were diverted to factory
     there was a profound lack of consumer goods and food was rationed
     difficult to generalize for all sections of society and some workers certainly became better off during this period

How Successful were the 5 Year Plans for Industry?
     all commentators agree that there was substantial growth in heavy industry during this period, impressive
      achievements were made and the Soviet Union was transformed on the industrial front.
       the command economy had major weakness like unrealistic targets, use of bribery, corruption and crooked
        deals to achieve targets, major shortages, and products of dubious quality
       at best the economy was ill-organized and badly coordinated, at worst it was chaotic
       there were imbalances in the economy with heavy industry taking priority over chemicals and transport and
        consumer goods being neglected throughout.
       the Russian people still spent an enormous amount of their time queing and went short of essential
       the plans were trying to do the impossible in conditions of appalling backwardness
       resources were directed towards areas of key priority and in a rough and crude way progress was made
       some historians have concluded the type of command economy that emerged with clearly set priorities seemed
        reasonably well suited to the circumstances of the USSR in the 1930s.

The comments above are almost all Revisionist in nature (and probably of Western origin). A study of this through a
historiographical perspective would / might yield different conclusions.

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