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)

 

FURTHER PROGRESS OF INDUSTRY AND AGRICULTURE IN THE U.S.S.R. SECOND FIVE-YEAR PLAN FULFILLED AHEAD OF TIME. RECONSTRUCTION OF AGRICULTURE AND COMPLETION OF COLLECTIVIZATION. IMPORTANCE OF CADRES. STAKHANOV MOVE-
MENT. RISING STANDARD OF WELFARE. RISING CULTURAL STANDARD. STRENGTH OF THE SOVIET REVOLUTION

    Whereas, three years after the economic crisis of 1930-33, a new economic crisis began in the capitalist countries, in the U.S.S.R. industry continued to make steady progress during the whole of this period. Whereas by the middle of 1937 world capitalist industry, as a whole, had barely attained 95-96 per cent of the level of production of 1929, only to be caught in the throes of a new crisis in the second half of 1937, the industry of the U.S.S.R. in its steady cumulative progress, had by the end of 1937 attained 428 per cent of the output of 1929, or over 700 per cent of the pre-war output.

    These achievements were a direct result of the policy of reconstruction so persistently pursued by the Party and the Government.

    The result of these achievements was that the Second Five-Year Plan of industry was fulfilled ahead of time. It was completed by April 1, 1937, that is, in four years and three months.

    This was a most important victory for Socialism.

    Progress in agriculture presented very much the same picture. The total area under all crops increased from 105,000,000 hectares in 1913 (pre-war) to 135,000,000 hectares in 1937. The grain harvest increased from 4,800,000,000 poods in 1913, to 6,800,000,000 poods in 1937, the raw cotton crop from 44,000,000 poods to 154,000,000 poods, the flax crop (fibre) from 19,000,000 poods to 31,000,000 poods, the sugar-beet crop from 654,000,000 poods to 1,311,000,000 poods, and the oil-seed crop from 129,000,000 poods to 306,000,000 poods.

    It should be mentioned that in 1937 the collective farms alone (without the state farms) produced a marketable surplus of over 1,700,000,000 poods of grain, which was at least 400,000,000 poods more than the landlords, kulaks and peasants together marketed in 1913.

    Only one branch of agriculture -- livestock farming -- still lagged behind the pre-war level and continued to progress at a slower rate.

    As to collectivization in agriculture, it might be considered completed. The number of peasant households that had joined the collective farms by 1937 was 18,500,000 or 93 per cent of the total number of peasant households, while the grain crop area of the collective farms amounted to 99 per cent of the total grain crop area of the peasants.

    The fruits of the reconstruction of agriculture and of the extensive supply of tractors and machinery for agricultural purposes were now manifest.

    As a result of the completion of the reconstruction of industry and agriculture the national economy was now abundantly supplied with first-class technique. Industry, agriculture, the transport system and the army had received huge quantities of modern technique -- machinery and machine tools, tractors and agricultural machines, locomotives and steamships, artillery and tanks, aeroplanes and warships. Tens and hundreds of thousands of trained people were required, people capable of harnessing all this technique and getting the most out of it. Without this, without a sufficient number of people who had mastered technique, there was a risk of technique becoming so much dead and unused metal. This was a serious danger, a result of the fact that the growth in the number of trained people, cadres, capable of harnessing, making full use of technique was not keeping pace with, and even lagging far behind, the spread of technique. Matters were further complicated by the fact that a considerable number of our industrial executives did not realize this danger and believed that technique would just "do the job by itself." Whereas, formerly, they had underrated the importance of technique and treated it with disdain, now they began to overrate it and turn it into a fetish. They did not realize that without people who had mastered technique, technique was a dead thing. They did not realize that to make technique highly productive, people who had mastered technique were required.

    Thus the problem of cadres who had mastered technique became one of prime importance.

    The executives who displayed an excessive zeal for technique and a consequent underestimation of the importance of trained people, cadres, had to have their attention turned to the study and mastery of technique, and to the necessity of doing everything to train numerous cadres capable of harnessing technique and getting the most out of it.

    Whereas formerly, at the beginning of the reconstruction period, when the country suffered from a dearth of technique, the Party had issued the slogan, "technique in the period of reconstruction decides everything," now, when there was an abundance of technique, when the reconstruction had in the main been completed, and when the country was experiencing an acute dearth of cadres, it became incumbent on the Party to issue a new slogan, one that would focus attention, not so much on technique, as on people, on cadres capable of utilizing technique to the full.

    Of great importance in this respect was the speech made by Comrade Stalin to the graduates from the Red Army Academies in May 1935.

    "Formerly," said Comrade Stalin, "we used to say that 'technique decides everything.' This slogan helped us to put an end to the dearth in technique and to create a vast technical base in every branch of activity for the equipment of our people with first-class technique. That is very good. But it is not enough, it is not enough by far. In order to set technique going and to utilize it to the full, we need people who have mastered technique, we need cadres capable of mastering and utilizing this technique according to all the rules of the art. Without people who have mastered technique, technique is dead. In the charge of people who have mastered technique, technique can and should perform miracles. If in our first-class mills and factories, in our state farms and collective farms and in our Red Army we had sufficient cadres capable of harnessing this technique, our country would secure results three times and four times as great as at present. That is why emphasis must now be laid on people, on cadres, on workers who have mastered technique. That is why the old slogan, 'technique decides everything,' which is a reflection of a period already passed, a period in which we suffered from a dearth of technique, must now be replaced by a new slogan, the slogan 'cadres decide everything.' That is the main thing now. . . .

    "It is time to realize that of all the valuable capital the world possesses, the most valuable and most decisive is people, cadres. It must be realized that under our present conditions 'cadres decide everything.' If we have good and numerous cadres in industry, agriculture, transport and the army -- our country will be invincible. If we do not have such cadres -- we shall be lame on both legs."

    Thus the prime task now was to accelerate the training of technical cadres and rapidly to master the new technique with the object of securing a continued rise in productivity of labour.

    The most striking example of the growth of such cadres, of the mastering of the new technique by our people, and of the continued rise in productivity of labour was the Stakhanov movement. It originated and developed in the Donetz Basin, in the coal industry, and spread to other branches of industry, to the railways, and then to agriculture. It was called the Stakhanov movement after its originator, Alexei Stakhanov, a coal-hewer in the Central Irmino Colliery (Donetz Basin). Stakhanov had been preceded by Nikita Izotov, who had broken all previous records in coal hewing. On August 31, 1935, Stakhanov hewed 102 tons of coal in one shift and thus fulfilled the standard output fourteen times over. This inaugurated a mass movement of workers and collective farmers for raising the standards of output, for a new advance in productivity of labour. Busygin in the automobile industry, Smetanin in the shoe industry, Krivonoss on the railways, Musinsky in the timber industry, Evdokia Vinogradova and Maria Vinogradova in the textile industry, Maria Demchenko, Maria Gnatenko, P. Angelina, Polagutin, Kolesov, Borin and Kovardak in agriculture -- these were the first pioneers of the Stakhanov movement.

    They were followed by other pioneers, whole battalions of them, who surpassed the productivity of labour of the earlier pioneers.

    Tremendous stimulus was given to the Stakhanov movement by the First All-Union Conference of Stakhanovites held in the Kremlin in November 1935, and by the speech Comrade Stalin made there.

    "The Stakhanov movement," Comrade Stalin said in this speech, "is the expression of a new wave of Socialist emulation, a new and higher stage of Socialist emulation. . . . In the past, some three years ago, in the period of the first stage of Socialist emulation, Socialist emulation was not necessarily associated with modern technique. At that time, in fact, we had hardly any modern technique. The present stage of Socialist emulation, the Stakhanov movement, on the other hand, is necessarily associated with modern technique. The Stakhanov movement would be inconceivable without a new and higher technique. We have before us people like Comrade Stakhanov, Busygin, Smetanin, Krivonoss, the Vinogradovas and many others, new people, working men and women, who have completely mastered the technique of their jobs, have harnessed it and driven ahead. We had no such people, or hardly any such people, some three years ago. . . . The significance of the Stakhanov movement lies in the fact that it is a movement which is smashing the old technical standards, because they are inadequate, which in a number of cases is surpassing the productivity of labour of the foremost capitalist countries, and is thus creating the practical possibility of further consolidating Socialism in our country, of converting our country into the most prosperous of all countries."

    Describing the methods of work of the Stakhanovites, and bringing out the tremendous significance of the Stakhanov movement for the future of our country, Comrade Stalin went on to say:

    "Look at our comrades, the Stakhanovites, more closely. What type of people are they? They are mostly young or middle-aged working men and women, people with culture and technical knowledge, who show examples of precision and accuracy in work, who are able to appreciate the time factor in work and who have learned to count not only the minutes, but also the seconds. The majority of them have taken the technical minimum courses and are continuing their technical education. They are free of the conservatism and stagnation of certain engineers, technicians and business executives; they are marching boldly forward, smashing the antiquated technical standards and creating new and higher standards; they are introducing amendments into the designed capacities and economic plans drawn up by the leaders of our industry; they often supplement and correct what the engineers and technicians have to say, they often teach them and impel them forward, for they are people who have completely mastered the technique of their job and who are able to squeeze out of technique the maximum that can- be squeezed out of it. Today the Stakhanovites are still few in number, but who can doubt that tomorrow there will be ten times more of them? Is it not clear that the Stakhanovites are innovators in our industry, that the Stakhanov movement represents the future of our industry, that it contains the seed of the future rise in the cultural and technical level of the working class, that it opens to us the path by which alone can be achieved those high indices of productivity of labour which are essential for the transition from Socialism to Communism and for the elimination of the distinction between mental labour and manual labour."

    The spread of the Stakhanov movement and the fulfillment of the Second Five-Year Plan ahead of time created the conditions for a new rise in the standard of welfare and culture of the working people.

    During the period of the Second Five-Year Plan real wages of workers and office employees had more than doubled. The total payroll increased from 34,000,000,000 rubles in 1933 to 81,000,000,000 rubles in 1937. The state social insurance fund increased from 4,600,000,000 rubles to 5,600,000,000 rubles in the same period. In 1937 alone, about 10,000,000,000 rubles were expended on the state insurance of workers and employees, on improving living conditions and on meeting cultural requirements, on sanatoria, health resorts, rest homes and on medical service.

    In the countryside, the collective farm system had been definitely consolidated. This was greatly assisted by the Rules of the Agricultural Artel, adopted by the Second Congress of Collective Farm Shock Workers in February 1935, and the assignment to the collective farms of the land cultivated by them in perpetual tenure. The consolidation of the collective farm system put an end to poverty and insecurity among the rural population. Whereas formerly, some three years earlier, the collective farmers had received one or two kilograms of grain per work-day-unit, now the majority of the collective farmers in the grain-growing regions were receiving from five to twelve kilograms, and many as much as twenty kilograms per work-day-unit, besides other kinds of produce and money income. There were millions of collective farm households in the grain-growing regions who now received as their yearly returns from 500 to 1,500 poods of grain, and in the cotton, sugar beet, flax, livestock, grape growing, citrus fruit growing and fruit and vegetable growing regions, tens of thousands of rubles in annual income. The collective farms had become prosperous. It was now the chief concern of the household of a collective farmer to build new granaries and storehouses, inasmuch as the old storage places, which were designed for a meagre annual supply, no longer met even one-tenth of the household's requirements.

    In 1936, in view of the rising standard of welfare of the people, the government passed a law prohibiting abortion, at the same time adopting an extensive program for the building of maternity homes, nurseries, milk centres and kindergartens. In 1936, 2,174,000,000 rubles were assigned for these measures, as compared with 875,000,000 rubles in 1935. A law was passed providing for considerable grants to large families. Grants to a total of over 1,000,000,000 rubles were made in 1937 under this law.

    The introduction of universal compulsory education and the building of new schools led to the rapid cultural progress of the people. Schools were built in large numbers all over the country. The number of pupils in elementary and intermediate schools increased from 8,000,000 in 1914 to 28,000,000 in the school year 1936-37. The number of university students increased from 112,000 to 542,000 in the same period.

    This was a veritable cultural revolution.

    The rise in the standard of welfare and culture of the masses was a reflection of the strength, might and invincibility of our Soviet revolution. Revolutions in the past perished because, while giving the people freedom, they were unable to bring about any serious improvement in their material and cultural conditions. Therein lay their chief weakness. Our revolution differs from all other revolutions in that it not only freed the people from tsardom and capitalism, but also brought about a radical improvement in the welfare and cultural condition of the people. Therein lies its strength and invincibility.

    "Our proletarian revolution," said Comrade Stalin at the First All-Union Conference of Stakhanovites, "is the only revolution in the world which had the opportunity of showing the people not only political results but also material results. Of all workers' revolutions we know only one which managed to achieve power. That was the Paris Commune. But it did not last long. True, it endeavoured to smash the fetters of capitalism, but it did not have time enough to smash them, and still less to show the people the beneficial material results of revolution. Our revolution is the only one which not only smashed the fetters of capitalism and brought the people freedom, but also succeeded in creating the material conditions of a prosperous life for the people. Therein lies the strength and invincibility of our revolution."