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showed how Stalin presented industrialization as a class war of
the oppressed against the old ruling classes.
This idea is correct. Nevertheless, through untold numbers of literary
and historical works, we are told to sympathize with those who were
repressed during the class wars of industrialization and
collectivization. We are told that repression is `always inhuman' and
that a civilized nation is not allowed to hurt a social group, even if
it was exploiting.
What can be said against this so-called `humanist' argument?
How did the industrialization of the `civilized world' made? How did
the London and Paris bankers and industries create their industrial
base? Could their industrialization have been possible without the
pillage of the India? Pillage accompanied by the
extermination of more than sixty million American Indians? Would it
have been possible without the slave trade in Africans, that monstrous
bloodbath? UNESCO experts estimate the African losses at
210 million persons, killed during raids or on ships, or sold as
slaves. Could our industrialization have been possible without
colonization, which made entire peoples prisoners in their own native
And those who industrialized this little corner of the world called
Europe, at the cost of millions of `indigenous' deaths, tell us that the
Bolshevik repression against the possessing classes was an abomination?
Those who industrialized their countries by chasing peasants off the
land with guns, who massacred women and children with working days of
fourteen hours, who imposed slave wages, always with the threat of
unemployment and famine, they dare go on at book length about the `forced'
industrialization of the Soviet Union?
If Soviet industrialization could only take place by repressing the rich
and reactionary five per cent, capitalist industrialization
consisted of the terror exercised by the rich five per cent against the
working masses, both in their own countries and in dominated ones.
Industrialization was a class war against the old exploiting classes,
which did everything they possibly could to prevent the success of the
socialist experience. It was often accomplished through bitter struggle
within the working class itself: illiterate peasants were torn out of
their traditional world and hurled into modern production, bringing
with them all their prejudices and their retrograde concepts. The
old reflexes of the working class itself, used to being exploited by a
boss and used to resisting him, had to be replaced by a new attitude to
work, now that the workers themselves were the masters of society.
On this subject, we have vivid testimony about the class struggle inside
one of the Soviet factories, written by a U.S. engineer,
who worked long years at Magnitogorsk.
was not Communist and often criticized the Bolshevik system. But
when reporting what he experienced in the strategic complex of
Magnitogorsk, he made us understand several essential problems that
Stalin had to confront.
described the ease with which a counter-revolutionary who served
in the White Armies but showed himself to be dynamic and intelligent
could pass as a proletarian element and climb the ranks of the Party.
His work also showed that the majority of active counter-revolutionaries
were potential spies for imperialist powers. It was not at all easy to
distinguish conscious counter-revolutionaries from corrupted bureaucrats
and `followers' who were just looking for an easy life.
also explained that the 1937--1938 purge was not solely
a `negative' undertaking, as it is presented in the West: it was mostly
a massive political mobilization that reinforced the antifascist
conscience of the workers, that made bureaucrats improve the quality of
their work and that allowed a considerable development of industrial
production. The purge was part of the great preparation of the popular
masses for resisting the coming imperialist invasions. The facts
slanderous declaration that Stalin did not adequately
prepare the country for war.
testimony about Magnitogorsk.
... was running (in 1936) the coke plant with its two
thousand workers. He was a gruff man, exceedingly energetic,
hard-hitting, and often rude and vulgar ....
`With certain limitations ...,
was not a bad plant director.
The workers respected him, and when he gave an order they jumped ....
came from a little village in the Ukraine. In 1920,
White Army occupied the territory, and young
a youth of
nineteen, was enlisted as a gendarme. Later
was driven back into
the Black Sea, and the Reds took over the country. In the interests of
lost his past, moved to another section of
the country, and got a job in a mill. He was very energetic and active,
and within a surprisingly short time had changed from the
pogrom-inspiring gendarme into a promising trade-union functionary in a
large factory. He was ultra-proletarian, worked well, and was not afraid
to cut corners and push his way up at the expense of his fellows. Then
he joined the party, and one thing led to another --- the Red Directors
Institute, important trade-union work, and finally in 1931 he was sent to
Magnitogorsk as assistant chief of construction work ....
`In 1935 ... a worker arrived from some town in the Ukraine and began
to tell stories about
activities there in 1920.
gave the man money and a good job, but still the story leaked
`One night he threw a party which was unprecedented in
and his pals were busy the rest of the
night and most of the next consuming the remains ....
was removed from his post, along with a
half-dozen of his leading personnel ....
was tried fifteen
months later and got ten years.
was at least fifty per cent bandit --- a dishonest and
unscrupulous careerist. His personal aims and ideals differed completely
from those of the founders of Socialism. However, in all probability,
was not a Japanese spy, as his indictment stated, did not have
terrorist intentions against the leaders of the party and the government,
and did not deliberately bring about the explosion (that killed
four workers in 1935).
band was composed of some twenty men, all of who
received long sentences. Some, like
were crooks and
careerists. Some were actual counter-revolutionaries who set out
deliberately to do what they could to overthrow the Soviet power and were
not particular with whom they cooperated. Others were just unfortunate
in having worked under a chief who fell foul of the NKVD.
`Nicolai Mikhailovich Udkin,
colleagues, was the
eldest son in a well-to-do Ukrainian family. He felt strongly that the
Ukraine had been conquered, raped, and was now being exploited by a group
of Bolsheviks ... who were ruining the country .... He felt,
furthermore, that the capitalist system worked much better than the
Socialist system ....
`Here was a man who was at least a potential menace to the Soviet power, a
man who might have been willing to cooperate with the Germans for the
`liberation of the Ukraine' in 1941. He, also, got ten years.'
, pp. 175--180.
`During the course of the purge hundreds of thousands of bureaucrats shook
in their boots. Officials and administrators who had formerly come to
work at ten, gone home at four-thirty, and shrugged their shoulders at
complaints, difficulties, and failures, began to stay at work from dawn
till dark, to worry about the success or failure of their units, and to
fight in a very real and earnest fashion for plan fulfillment, for
economy, and for the well-being of their workers and employees, about whom
they had previously lost not a wink of sleep.'
, pp. 195--196.
`By and large, production increased from 1938 to 1941. By late 1938 the
immediate negative effects of the purge had nearly disappeared. The
industrial aggregates of Magnitogorsk were producing close to capacity,
and every furnace, every mill, every worker, was being made to feel the
pressure and the tension which spread through every phase of Soviet life
after Munich. `The capitalist attack on the Soviet Union, prepared for
years, is about to take place ...' boomed the Soviet press, the radio,
schoolteachers, stump speakers, and party, trade-union, and Komsomol
functionaries, at countless meetings.
`Russia's defence budget nearly doubled every year. Immense quantities of
strategic materials, machines, fuels, foods, and spare parts were stored
away. The Red Army increased in size from roughly two million in 1938 to
six or seven million in the spring of 1941. Railroad and factory
construction work in the Urals, in Central Asia, and in Siberia was
`All these enterprises consumed the small but growing surplus which the
Magnitogorsk workers had begun to get back in the form of bicycles, wrist
watches, radio sets, and good sausage and other manufactured food
products from 1935 till 1938.'
, pp. 253--254.
Next: An economic miracle
Up: Socialist industrialization
Previous: Heroism and enthusiasm
Fri Aug 25 09:03:42 PDT 1995