MARXIST INTERNET ARCHIVE | History of CP Bolshevik

H I S T O R Y O F  T H E C O M M U N I S T   P A R T Y

O F  T H E

S O V I E T  U N I O N

(B O L S H E V I K S)

C H A P T E R   E L E V E N

POLICY OF RECONSTRUCTING ALL BRANCH'S OF THE NATIONAL ECONOMY. IMPORTANCE OF TECHNIQUE. FURTHER SPREAD OF THE COLLECTIVE-FARM MOVEMENT. POLITICALDEPARTMENTS OF THE MACHINE AND TRACTOR STATIONS.RESULTS OF THE FULFILLMENT OF THE FIVE-YEAR PLAN IN FOUR YEARS. VICTORY OF SOCIALISM ALONG THE WHOLE FRONT. SEVENTEENTH PARTY CONGRESS

    When heavy industry and especially the machine-building industry had been built up and placed securely on their feet, and it was moreover clear that they were developing at a fairly rapid pace, the next task that faced the Party was to reconstruct all branches of the national economy on modern, up-to-date lines. Modern technique, modern machinery had to be supplied to the fuel industry, the metallurgical industry, the light industries, the food industry, the timber industry, the armament industry, the transport system, and to agriculture. In view of the colossal increase in the demand for farm produce and manufactured goods, it was necessary to double and treble output in all branches of production. But this could not be done unless the factories and mills, the state farms and collective farms were adequately supplied with up-to-date equipment, since the requisite increase of output could not be secured with the old equipment.

    Unless the major branches of the national economy were reconstructed, it would be impossible to satisfy the new and ever growing demands of the country and its economic system.

    Without reconstruction, it would be impossible to complete the offensive of Socialism along the whole front, for the capitalist elements in town and country had to be fought and vanquished not only by a new organization of labour and property, but also by a new technique, by technical superiority.

    Without reconstruction, it would be impossible to overtake and outstrip the technically and economically advanced capitalist countries, for although the U.S.S.R. had surpassed the capitalist countries in rate of industrial development, it still lagged a long way behind them in level of industrial development, in quantity of industrial output.

    In order that we might catch up with them, every branch of production had to be equipped with new technique and reconstructed on the most up-to-date technical lines.

    The question of technique had thus become of decisive importance.

    The main impediment was not so much an insufficiency of modern machinery and machine-tools -- for our machine-building industry was in a position to produce modern equipment -- as the wrong attitude of our business executives to technique, their tendency to underrate the importance of technique in the period of reconstruction and to disdain it. In their opinion, technical matters were the affair of the "experts," some thing of second-rate importance, to be left in charge of the "bourgeois experts"; they considered that Communist business executives need not interfere in the technical side of production and should attend to something more important, namely, the "general" management of industry.

    The bourgeois "experts" were therefore given a free hand in matters of production, while the Communist business executives reserved to themselves the function of "general" direction, the signing of papers.

    It need scarcely be said that with such an attitude, "general" direction was bound to degenerate into a mere parody of direction, a sterile signing of papers, a futile fussing with papers.

    It is clear that if Communist business executives had persisted in this disdainful attitude of technical matters, we would never have been able to overtake the advanced capitalist countries, let alone outstrip them. This attitude, especially in the reconstruction period, would have doomed our country to backwardness, and would have lowered our rates of development. As a matter of fact, this attitude to technical matters was a screen, a mask for the secret wish of a certain section of the Communist business executives to retard, to reduce the rate of industrial development, so as to be able to "take it easy" by shunting the responsibility for production on to the "experts."

    It was necessary to get Communist business executives to turn their attention to technical matters, to acquire a taste for technique; they needed to be shown that it was vital for Bolshevik business executives to master modern technique, otherwise we would run the risk of condemning our country to backwardness and stagnation.

    Unless this problem were solved further progress would be impossible.

    Of utmost importance in this connection was the speech Comrade Stalin made at the First Conference of Industrial Managers in February 1931.

    "It is sometimes asked," said Comrade Stalin, "whether it is not possible to slow down the tempo a bit, to put a check on the movement. No, comrades, it is not possible! The tempo must not be reduced! . . . To slacken the tempo would mean falling behind. And those who fall behind get beaten. But we do not want to be beaten. No, we refuse to be beaten!
    "Incidentally, the history of old Russia is one unbroken record of the beatings she suffered for falling behind, for her backwardness. She was beaten by the Mongol khans. She was beaten by the Turkish beys. She was beaten by the Swedish feudal lords. She was beaten by the Polish and Lithuanian gentry. She was beaten by the British and French capitalists. She was beaten by the Japanese barons. All beat her -- for her backwardness. . . .
    "We are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this distance in ten years. Either we do it, or they crush us. . . .
    "In ten years at most we must make good the distance we are lagging behind the advanced capitalist countries. We have all the 'objective' opportunities for this. The only thing lacking is the ability to make proper use of these opportunities. And that depends on us. Only on us! It is time we learned to use these opportunities. It is time to put an end to the rotten policy of non-interference in production. It is time to adopt a new policy, a policy adapted to the times the policy of interfering in everything. If you are a factory manager, then interfere in all the affairs of the factory, look into everything, let nothing escape you, learn and learn again. Bolsheviks must master technique. It is time Bolsheviks themselves became experts. In the period of reconstruction technique decides everything." (Stalin, Leninism, Vol. II, "The Tasks of Business Managers." )

    The historic importance of Comrade Stalin's speech lay in the fact that it put an end to the disdainful attitude of Communist business executives to technique, made them face the question of technique, opened a new phase in the struggle for the mastery of technique by the Bolsheviks themselves, and thereby helped to promote the work of economic reconstruction.

    From then on technical knowledge ceased to be a monopoly of the bourgeois "experts," and became a matter of vital concern to the Bolshevik business executives themselves, while the word "expert" ceased to be a term of disparagement and became the honourable title of Bolsheviks who had mastered technique.

    From then on there were bound to appear -- and there actually did appear -- thousands upon thousands, whole battalions of Red experts, who had mastered technique and were able to direct industries.

    This was a new, Soviet technical intelligentsia, an intelligentsia of the working class and the peasantry, and they now constitute the main force in the management of our industries.

    All this was bound to promote, and actually did promote, the work of economic reconstruction.

    Reconstruction was not confined to industry and transport. It developed even more rapidly in agriculture. The reason is not far to seek: agriculture was less mechanized than other branches, and here the need for modern machinery was felt more acutely than elsewhere. And it was urgently essential to increase the supply of modern agricultural machines now that the number of collective farms was growing from month to month and week to week, and with it the demand for thousands upon thousands of tractors and other agricultural machines.

    The year 1931 witnessed a further advance in the collective-farm movement. In the principal grain-growing districts over 80 per cent of the peasant farms had already amalgamated to form collective farms. Here, solid collectivization had in the main already been achieved. In the less important grain-growing districts and in the districts growing industrial crops about 50 per cent of the peasant farms had joined the collective farms. By now there were 500,000 collective farms and 4,000 state farms, which together cultivated two-thirds of the total crop area of the country, the individual peasants cultivating only one-third.

    This was a tremendous victory for Socialism in the countryside.

    But the progress of the collective-farm movement was so far to be measured in breadth rather than in depth: the collective farms were increasing in number and were spreading to district after district, but there was no commensurate improvement in the work of the collective farms or in the skill of their personnel. This was due to the fact that the growth of the leading cadres and trained personnel of the collective farms was not keeping pace with the numerical growth of the collective farms themselves. The consequence was that the work of the new collective farms was not always satisfactory, and the collective farms themselves were still weak. They were also held back by the shortage in the countryside of literate people indispensable to the collective farms (book-keepers, stores managers, secretaries, etc.), and by the inexperience of the peasants in the management of large-scale collective enterprises. The collective farmers were the individual peasants of yesterday; they had experience in farming small plots of land, but none in managing big, collective farms. This experience could not be acquired in a day.

    The first stages of collective farm work were consequently marred by serious defects. It was found that work was still badly organized in the collective farms; labour discipline was slack. In many collective farms the income was distributed not by the number of work-day-units, but by the number of mouths to feed in the family. It often happened that slackers got a bigger return than conscientious hard-working collective farmers. These defects in the management of collective farms lowered the incentive of their members. There were many cases of members absenting themselves from work even at the height of the season, leaving part of the crops unharvested until the winter snows, while the reaping was done so carelessly that large quantities of grain were lost. The absence of individual responsibility for machines and horses, and for work generally, weakened the collective farms and reduced their revenues.

    The situation was particularly bad wherever former kulaks and their toadies had managed to worm their way into collective farms and to secure positions of trust in them. Not infrequently former kulaks would betake themselves to districts where they were unknown, and there make their way into the collective farms with the deliberate intention of sabotaging and doing mischief. Sometimes, owing to lack of vigilance on the part of Party workers and Soviet officials, kulaks managed to get into collective farms even in their own districts. What made it easier for former kulaks to penetrate into the collective farms was that they had radically changed their tactics. Formerly the kulaks had fought the collective farms openly, had savagely persecuted collective farm leading cadres and foremost collective farmers, nefariously murdering them, burning down their houses and barns. By these methods they had thought to intimidate the peasantry and to deter them from joining the collective farms. Now that their open struggle against the collective farms had failed, they changed their tactics. They laid aside their sawn-off shotguns and posed as innocent, unoffending folk who would not hurt a fly. They pretended to be loyal Soviet supporters. Once inside the collective farms they stealthily carried on their sabotage. They strove to disorganize the collective farms from within, to undermine labour discipline and to muddle the harvest accounts and the records of work performed. It was part of their sinister scheme to destroy the horses of the collective farms by deliberately infecting them with glanders, mange and other diseases, or disabling them by neglect or other methods, in which they were often successful. They did damage to tractors and farm machinery.

    The kulaks were often able to deceive the collective farmers and commit sabotage with impunity because the collective farms were still weak and their personnel still inexperienced.

    To put an end to the sabotage of the kulaks and to expedite the work of strengthening the collective farms, the latter had to be given urgent and effective assistance in men, advice and leadership.

    This assistance was forthcoming from the Bolshevik Party. In January 1933, the Central Committee of the Party adopted a decision to organize political departments in the machine and tractor stations serving the collective farms. Some 17,000 Party members were sent into the countryside to work in these political departments and to aid the collective farms.

    This assistance was highly effective.

    In two years (1933 and 1934) the political departments of the machine and tractor stations did a great deal to build up an active body of collective farmers, to eliminate the defects in the work of the collective farms, to consolidate them, and to rid them of kulak enemies and wreckers.

    The political departments performed their task with credit: they strengthened the collective farms both in regard to organization and efficiency, trained skilled personnel for them, improved their management and raised the political level of the collective farm members.

    Of great importance in stimulating the collective farmers to strive for the strengthening of the collective farms was the First All-Union Congress of Collective Farm Shock Workers (February 1933) and the speech made by Comrade Stalin at this congress.

    Contrasting the old, pre-collective farm system in the countryside with the new, collective farm system, Comrade Stalin said:

    "Under the old system the peasants each worked in isolation, following the ancient methods of their forefathers and using antiquated implements of labour; they worked for the landlords and capitalists, the kulaks and profiteers; they lived in penury while they enriched others. Under the new, collective farm system, the peasants work in common, co-operatively, with the help of modern implements -- tractors and agricultural machinery; they work for themselves and their collective farms; they live without capitalists and landlords, without kulaks and profiteers; they work with the object of raising their standard of welfare and culture from day to day." (Stalin, Problems of Leninism, Russ. ed., p. 528.)

    Comrade Stalin showed in this speech what the peasants had achieved by adopting the collective farm way. The Bolshevik Party had helped millions of poor peasants to join the collective farms and to escape from servitude to the kulaks. By joining the collective farms, and having the best lands and the finest instruments of production at their disposal, millions of poor peasants who had formerly lived in penury had now as collective farmers risen to the level of middle peasants, and had attained material security.

    This was the first step in the development of collective farms, the first achievement.

    The next step, Comrade Stalin said, was to raise the collective farmers -- both former poor peasants and former middle peasants -- to an even higher level, to make all the collective farmers prosperous and all the collective farms Bolshevik.

    "Only one thing is now needed for the collective farmers to become prosperous," Comrade Stalin said, "and that is for them to work in the collective farms conscientiously, to make efficient use of the tractors and machines, to make efficient use of the draught cattle, to cultivate the land efficiently, and to cherish collective farm property." (Ibid., pp. 532-3.)

    Comrade Stalin's speech made a profound impression on the millions of collective farmers and became a practical program of action for the collective farms.

    By the end of 1934 the collective farms had become a strong and invincible force. They already embraced about three-quarters of all the peasant households in the Soviet Union and about 90 per cent of the total crop area.

    In 1934 there were already 281,000 tractors and 32,000 harvester combines at work in the Soviet countryside. The spring sowing in that year was completed fifteen to twenty days earlier than in 1933, and thirty to forty days earlier than in 1932, while the plan of grain deliveries to the state was fulfilled three months earlier than in 1932.

    This showed how firmly established the collective farms had become

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in two years, thanks to the tremendous assistance given them by the Party and the workers' and peasants' state.

    This solid victory of the collective farm system and the attendant improvement of agriculture enabled the Soviet Government to abolish the rationing of bread and all other products and to introduce the unrestricted sale of foodstuffs.

    Since the political departments of the machine and tractor stations had served the purpose for which they had been temporarily created, the Central Committee decided to convert them into ordinary Party bodies by merging them with the district Party Committees in their localities.

    All these achievements, both in agriculture and in industry, were made possible by the successful fulfilment of the Five-Year Plan.

    By the beginning of 1933 it was evident that the First Five-Year Plan had already been fulfilled ahead of time, fulfilled in four years and three months.

    This was a tremendous, epoch-making victory of the working class and peasantry of the U.S.S.R.

    Reporting to a plenary meeting of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission of the Party, held in January 1933, Comrade Stalin reviewed the results of the First Five-Year Plan. The report made it clear that in the period which it took to fulfil the First Five-Year Plan, the Party and the Soviet Government had achieved the following major results.

    a) The U.S.S.R. had been converted from an agrarian country into an industrial country, for the proportion of industrial output to the total production of the country had risen to 70 per cent.

    b) The Socialist economic system had eliminated the capitalist elements in the sphere of industry and had become the sole economic system in industry.

    c) The Socialist economic system had eliminated the kulaks as a class in the sphere of agriculture, and had become the predominant force in agriculture.

    d) The collective farm system had put an end to poverty and want in the countryside, and tens of millions of poor peasants had risen to a level of material security.

    e ) The Socialist system in industry had abolished unemployment, and while retaining the 8-hour day in a number of branches, had introduced the 7-hour day in the vast majority of enterprises and the 6-hour day in unhealthy occupations.

    f) The victory of Socialism in all branches of the national economy had abolished the exploitation of man by man.

    The sum and substance of the achievements of the First Five-Year Plan was that they had completely emancipated the workers and peasants from exploitation and had opened the way to a prosperous and cultured life for all working people in the U.S.S.R.

    In January 1934 the Party held its Seventeenth Congress. It was attended by 1,225 delegates with vote and 736 delegates with voice but no vote, representing 1,874,488 Party members and 935,298 candidate members.

    The congress reviewed the work of the Party since the last congress. It noted the decisive results achieved by Socialism in all branches of economic and cultural life and placed on record that the general line of the Party had triumphed along the whole front.

    The Seventeenth Party Congress is known in history as the "Congress of Victors."

    Reporting on the work of the Central Committee, Comrade Stalin pointed to the fundamental changes that had taken place in the U.S.S.R. during the period under review.

    "During this period, the U.S.S.R. has become radically transformed and has cast off the integument of backwardness and mediaevalism. From an agrarian country it has become an industrial country. From a country of small individual agriculture it has become a country of collective, large-scale mechanized agriculture. From an ignorant, illiterate and uncultured country it has become -- or rather it is becoming -- a literate and cultured country covered by a vast network of higher, intermediate and elementary schools teaching in the languages of the nationalities of the U.S.S.R. (Stalin, Seventeenth Congress of the C.P.S.U., "Report on the Work of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.[B.]," p. 30.)

    By this time 99 per cent of the industry of the country was Socialist industry. Socialist agriculture -- the collective farms and state farms -- embraced about 90 per cent of the total crop area of the country. As to trade, the capitalist elements had been completely ousted from this domain.

    When the New Economic Policy was being introduced, Lenin said that there were the elements of five social-economic formations in our country. The first was patriarchal economy, which was largely a natural form of economy, i.e., which practically carried on no trade. The second formation was small commodity production, as represented by the majority of the peasant farms, those which sold agricultural produce, and by the artisans. In the first years of NEP this economic formation embraced the majority of the population. The third formation was private capitalism, which had begun to revive in the early period of NEP. The fourth formation was state capitalism, chiefly in the form of concessions, which had not developed to any considerable extent. The fifth formation was Socialism: Socialist industry, which was still weak, state farms and collective farms, which were economically insignificant at the beginning of NEP, state trade and co-operative societies, which were also weak at that time.

    Of all these formations, Lenin said, the Socialist formation must gain the upper hand.

    The New Economic Policy was designed to bring about the complete victory of Socialist forms of economy.

    And by the time of the Seventeenth Party Congress this aim had already been achieved.

    "We can now say," said Comrade Stalin, "that the first, the third and the fourth social-economic formations no longer exist; the second social-economic formation has been forced into a secondary position, while the fifth social-economic formation -- the Socialist formation -- now holds unchallenged sway and is the sole commanding force in the whole national economy." (Ibid., p. 33.)

    An important place in Comrade Stalin's report was given to the question of ideological-political leadership. He warned the Party that although its enemies, the opportunists and nationalist deviators of all shades and complexions, had been defeated, remnants of their ideology still lingered in the minds of some Party members and often asserted themselves. The survivals of capitalism in economic life and particularly in the minds of men provided a favourable soil for the revival of the ideology of the defeated anti-Leninist groups. The development of people's mentality does not keep pace with their economic position. As a consequence, survivals of bourgeois ideas still remained in men's minds and would continue to do so even though capitalism had been abolished in economic life. It should also be borne in mind that the surrounding capitalist world, against which we had to keep our powder dry, was working to revive and foster these survivals.

    Comrade Stalin also dwelt on the survivals of capitalism in men's minds on the national question, where they were particularly tenacious. The Bolshevik Party was fighting on two fronts, both against the deviation to Great-Russian chauvinism and against the deviation to local nationalism. In a number of republics (the Ukraine, Byelorussia, and others) the Party organizations had relaxed the struggle against local

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nationalism, and had allowed it to grow to such an extent that it had allied itself with hostile forces, the forces of intervention, and had become a danger to the state. In reply to the question, which deviation in the national question was the major danger, Comrade Stalin said:

    "The major danger is the deviation against which we have ceased to fight, thereby allowing it to grow into a danger to the state." (Ibid., p. 81.)

    Comrade Stalin called upon the Party to be more active in ideological-political work, systematically to expose the ideology and the remnants of the ideology of the hostile classes and of the trends hostile to Leninism.

    He further pointed out in his report that the adoption of correct decisions does not in itself guarantee the success of a measure. In order to guarantee success, it was necessary to put the right people in the right place, people able to give effect to the decisions of the leading organs and to keep a check on the fulfilment of decisions. Without these organizational measures there was a risk of decisions remaining scraps of paper, divorced from practical life. Comrade Stalin referred in support of this to Lenin's famous maximum that the chief thing in organizational work was the choice of personnel and the keeping of a check on the fulfilment of decisions. Comrade Stalin said that the disparity between adopted decisions and the organizational work of putting these decisions into effect and of keeping a check on their fulfilment was the chief evil in our practical work.

    In order to keep a better check on the fulfilment of Party and Government decisions, the Seventeenth Party Congress set up a Party Control Commission under the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B.) and a Soviet Control Commission under the Council of People's Commissars of the U.S.S.R. in place of the combined Central Control Commission and Workers' and Peasants' Inspection, this body having completed the tasks for which it had been set up by the Twelfth Party Congress.

    Comrade Stalin formulated the organizational tasks of the Party in the new stage as follows:

    1) Our organizational work must be adapted to the requirements of the political line of the Party;

    2) Organizational leadership must be raised to the level of political leadership.

    3) Organizational leadership must be made fully equal to the task of ensuring the realization of the political slogans and decisions of the Party.

    In conclusion, Comrade Stalin warned the Party that although Socialism had achieved great successes, successes of which we could be justly proud, we must not allow ourselves to be carried away, to get "swelled head," to be lulled by success.

    ". . . We must not lull the Party, but sharpen its vigilance; we must not lull it to sleep, but keep it ready for action; not disarm it, but arm it; not demobilize it, but hold it in a state of mobilization for the fulfilment of the Second Five-Year Plan," said Comrade Stalin. (Ibid., p. 96.)

    The Seventeenth Congress heard reports from Comrades Molotov and Kuibyshev on the Second Five-Year Plan for the development of the national economy. The program of the Second Five-Year Plan was even vaster than that of the First Five-Year Plan. By the end of the Second Five-Year Plan period, in 1937, industrial output was to be increased approximately eightfold in comparison with pre-war. Capital development investments in all branches in the period of the Second Five-Year Plan were to amount to 133,000,000,000 rubles, as against a little over 64,000,000,000 rubles in the period of the First Five-Year Plan.

    This immense scope of new capital construction work would ensure the complete technical re-equipment of all branches of the national economy.

    The Second Five-Year Plan was to complete in the main the mechanization of agriculture. Aggregate tractor power was to increase from 2,250,000 hp. in 1932 to over 8,000,000 hp. in 1937. The plan provided for the extensive employment of scientific agricultural methods (correct crop rotation, use of selected seed, autumn ploughing, etc.).

    A tremendous plan for the technical reconstruction of the means of transport and communication was outlined.

    The Second Five-Year Plan contained an extensive program for the further improvement of the material and cultural standards of the workers and peasants.

    The Seventeenth Congress paid great attention to matters of organization and adopted decisions on the work of the Party and the Soviets in connection with a report made by Comrade Kaganovich. The question of organization had acquired even greater importance now that the general line of the Party had won and the Party policy had been tried and tested by the experience of millions of workers and peasants. The new and complex tasks of the Second Five-Year Plan called for higher standard of work in all spheres.

    "The major tasks of the Second Five-Year Plan, viz., to completely eliminate the capitalist elements, to overcome the survivals of capitalism in economic life and in the minds of men, to complete the reconstruction of the whole national economy on modern technical lines, to learn to use the new technical equipment and the new enterprises, to mechanize agriculture and increase its productivity -- insistently and urgently confront us with the problem of improving work in all spheres, first and foremost in practical organizational leadership," it was stated in the decisions of the congress on organizational questions. (Resolutions of the C.P.S.U.[B.], Russ. ed., Part II, p. 591.)

    The Seventeenth Congress adopted new Party Rules, which differ from the old ones firstly by the addition of a preamble. This preamble gives a brief definition of the Communist Party, and a definition of its role in the struggle of the proletariat and its place in the organism of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The new rules enumerate in detail the duties of Party members. Stricter regulations governing the admission of new members and a clause concerning sympathizers' groups were introduced. The new rules give a more detailed exposition of the organizational structure of the Party, and formulate anew the clauses dealing with the Party nuclei, or primary organizations, as they have been called since the Seventeenth Party Congress. The clauses dealing with inner Party democracy and Party discipline were also formulated anew.