MARXIST INTERNET ARCHIVE



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An economic miracle

During the industrialization, the Soviet workers achieved economic miracles that still stagger the imagination.

Here is how Kuromiya  concluded his study of the Stalinist industrialization:

`The breakthrough wrought by the revolution of 1928--31 laid the foundations of the remarkable industrial expansion in the 1930s that would sustain the country in the Second World War. By the end of 1932 ..., the gross industrial output ... had more than doubled since 1928 .... as the capital projects of the First Five-Year Plan were brought into operation one after another in the mid-1930s, industrial production expanded enormously. During 1934--36 ..., ``the official index showed a rise of 88 per cent for total gross industrial production ....'' In the decade from 1927/28 to 1937 ..., gross industrial production leapt from 18,300 million rubles to 95,500 million; pig iron output rose from 3.3 million tons to 14.5; coal from 35.4 million metric tons to 128.0; electric power from 5.1 billion kilowatt hours to 36.2; machine tools from 2,098 units to 36,120. Even discounting the exaggeration, it may be safely said that the achievements were dazzling.'

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Kuromiya,  op. cit. , p. 287.

Lenin  expressed his confidence in the capacity of the Soviet people to build socialism in one country by declaring, `Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country'.

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Lenin,  Our Foreign and Domestic Position and the Tasks of the Party. Works, vol. 31, p. 419.

With this viewpoint, in 1920 Lenin  proposed a general plan of electrification that foresaw, over the next fifteen years, the construction of 30 electrical power plants generating 1.75 million kW. But, thanks to the will and tenacity of Stalin and the leadership of the Bolshevik Party, in 1935, the Soviet Union had a generating capacity of 4.07 million kW. Lenin's  ambitious dream had been surpassed by 133 per cent by Stalin!

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L'Office central de statistique près le Conseil des ministres de l'U.R.S.S. Les Progrès du pouvoir soviétique depuis 40 ans en chiffres: Recueil statistique (Moscow: Éditions en langues étrangères, 1958), p. 75.

Incredible rebuttal to all those educated renegades who read in scientific books that socialist construction in one country, particularly a peasant one, is not possible. The theory of the `impossibility of socialism in the USSR', spread by the Mensheviks and the Trotskyists  was a mere lamentation showing the pessimism and the capitulationist spirit among the petite bourgeoisie. As the socialist cause progressed, their hatred for real socialism, that thing that should not exist, only sharpened.

The increase in fixed assets between 1913 and 1940 gives a precise idea of the incredible effort supplied by the Soviet people. Starting from an index of 100 for the year preceding the war, the fixed assets for industry reached 136 at the beginning of the First Five-Year Plan in 1928. On the eve of the Second World War, twelve years later, in 1940, the index had risen to 1,085 points, i.e. an eight-fold increase in twelve years. The fixed assets for agriculture evolved from 100 to 141, just before the collectivization in 1928, to reach 333 points in 1940.

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Ibid. , p. 26.

For eleven years, from 1930 to 1940, the Soviet Union saw an average increase in industrial production of 16.5 per cent.

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Ibid. , p. 30.

During industrialization, the main effort was focused on creating the material conditions for freedom and independence for the Socialist homeland. At the same time, the socialist régime laid down the basis for future well-being and prosperity. The greatest part of the increase in national revenue was destined for accumulation. One could hardly think about improving the material standard of living in the short term. Yes, the life for workers and peasants was hard.

Accrued capital passed from 3.6 billion rubles in 1928, representing 14.3 per cent of the national revenue, to 17.7 billion in 1932, i.e. 44.2 per cent of the national revenue! Consumer spending, on the other hand, slightly dropped: from 23.1 billion in 1930 to 22.3 billion two years later. According to Kuromiya,  `The real wages of Moscow industrial workers in 1932 were only 53 percent of the 1928 level'.

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Kuromiya,  op. cit. , pp. 304--305.

While industrial assets increased ten-fold from the pre-war period, the housing construction index had only reached 225 points in 1940. Housing conditions had hardly improved.

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Progrès, op. cit. , p. 26.

It is not true that industrialization took place at the cost of a `feudal-military exploitation of the peasantry', as claimed Bukharin:  socialist industrialization, which clearly could not take place through the exploitation of colonies, was achieved through the sacrifices of all workers, industrial, peasant and intellectual.

Was Stalin `unfeeling towards the terrible difficulties of the life of workers'? Stalin understood perfectly well the primary need of the physical survival of the Socialist homeland and of its people before a substantial and lasting improvement of the standard of living could take place. Build housing? The Nazi aggressors destroyed and burnt 1,710 cities and towns and more than 70,000 villages and hamlets, leaving 25 million people without shelter.

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Ibid. , p. 31.

In 1921, the Soviet Union was a ruined country, its independence under threat from all the imperialist powers. After twenty years of titanic efforts, the workers built a country that could stand up to the most developed capitalist power in Europe, Hitler's  Germany. That old and future Nazis lash out against the `forced' industrialization and the `terrible suffering imposed on the people' is quite understandable. But what person in India, Brazil, Nigeria or Egypt would not stop to think? Since the independences from the colonial powers, what has been the lot of the ninety per cent of workers in the Third World? And who profited from this suffering? Did the workers in these countries knowingly accept these sacrifices, as was the case in the Soviet Union? And did the sacrifices of the Indian, Brazilian, Nigerian or Egyptian worker allow the creation of an independent economic system, capable of resisting the most vicious imperialism, as did the Soviet worker in the twenties and thirties?

=notes/notes4



next up previous contents index
Next: Collectivization Up: Socialist industrialization Previous: Class war



Fri Aug 25 09:03:42 PDT 1995