TO INDUSTRIALIZE in so brief a period of history a country so vast and at the same time so economically backward as was the Soviet Union at that time, was a task of tremendous difficulty. It was necessary to build up a large number of new industries, industries that had been unknown in tsarist Russia. It was necessary to create a defence industry, non-existent in old Russia. It was necessary to build plants for the production of modern agricultural machinery, such as the old countryside had never heard of. All this demanded enormous funds. In capitalist countries such funds were obtained by the merciless exploitation of the people, by wars of aggrandizement, by the plunder of colonies and dependent countries, and by foreign loans. But the Soviet Union could not resort to such infamous means; and as to foreign loans, the capitalists had closed this source to the Soviet Union. The only way was to find these funds at home.
Guided by Lenin’s precepts, Stalin developed the doctrine of the Socialist industrialization of the Soviet Union. He showed that:
(1) Industrialization meant not merely increasing industrial output, but developing heavy industry, and above all its mainspring—machine-building; for only a heavy industry, including a domestic machine-building industry, could provide the material basis for Socialism and render the Land of Socialism independent of the capitalist world;
(2) The expropriation of the landlords and capitalists as a result of the October Socialist Revolution, the abolition of the private ownership of the land, the factories, the banks, etc, and their conversion into public property had created a mighty source of Socialist accumulation for the development of industry;
(3) Socialist industrialization differs fundamentally from capitalist industrialization: the latter is based on the seizure and plunder of colonies, on military victories, on usurious loans, and on the merciless exploitation of the labouring masses and colonial peoples; Socialist industrialization is based on the public ownership of the means of production, on the accumulation and husbanding of the values created by the labour of the workers and peasants; it is necessarily accompanied by a steady rise in the standard of living of the labouring masses;
(4) Hence the prime tasks in the struggle for industrialization were to raise productivity of labour, to reduce production costs, to promote labour discipline, strict economy, etc.;
(5) The building of Socialism in the U.S.S.R., coupled with the labour enthusiasm of the working class, made it quite possible to achieve the necessary high speed of industrialization;
(6) The reconstruction of agriculture on Socialist lines would have to be preceded by the industrialization of the country, so as to create the technical base for this reconstruction.
Armed with this clear and precise program, the working people of the Soviet Union embarked upon the Socialist industrialization of their country.
Alarmed by the progress of Socialist construction, the imperialists tried to frustrate, or at least to impede, the industrialization of. the country by breaking off diplomatic and commercial relations with the U.S.S.R. (Britain), by assassinating Soviet ambassadors (Poland), by intensifying espionage and sabotage activities. At home, the Trotskyites, the Zinovievites, and the remnants of other, previously defeated, anti-Party groups joined in a treasonable bloc and launched a furious attack on the Party. “Something in the nature of a united front from Chamberlain to Trotsky is being formed,” said Stalin at the time. Socialist industrialization could not be successful unless the Trotsky-Zinoviev bloc were routed ideologically and organizationally. And this was done by the Party, led by Stalin. Stalin’s report on “The Social-Democratic Deviation in Our Party,” at the Fifteenth Party Conference (November 1926), and his speech, “Once Again on the Social-Democratic Deviation in Our Party,” at the Seventh Enlarged Plenum of the E.C.C.I. (December 1926), furnished the C.P.S.U.(B.) and the Communist International with the necessary ideological weapons, and ensured the solidarity and unity of the Party ranks.
The Enlarged Plenum of the E.C.C.I. stigmatized the adherents of the Trotsky-Zinoviev bloc as splitters who had sunk to downright Menshevism.
Having defeated and swept aside the capitulators and defenders of capitalism, the Bolsheviks proceeded to carry on with the Socialist industrialization of the country.
There was not a single sphere or aspect of industrialization that escaped Stalin’s attention. It was on his initiative that new industries were built and formerly backward industries reconstructed and enlarged. It was he that inspired the creation of a second coal and metallurgical centre—the Kuzbas. It was he that organized and directed the numerous Socialist construction projects. The Stalingrad Tractor Works, the Dnieper Power Station, the Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works, the Urals Engineering Works, the Rostov Agricultural Machinery Works, the Kuznetsk Coal and Iron Works, the Turkestan Siberian Railway, the Saratov Harvester Combine Works, the automobile factories in Moscow and Gorky—all these and other industrial plants, of which the whole country is justly proud, owed their initiation to Stalin.
The majestic and imposing edifice of Socialism that was being built in the U.S.S.R. made a profound impression on the workers of the capitalist countries. The U.S.S.R. became a veritable Mecca to which scores and hundreds of workers’ delegations flocked from all parts of the world. And it was with keen interest and profound emotion that they saw how the workers, having ousted their exploiters, were building a new, Socialist society. They were interested in everything and wanted to know everything. On November 5, 1927, Stalin gave a long interview to labour delegations from Germany, France, Austria, Czechoslovakia, China, Belgium and other countries.
By the end of 1927 the decisive success of the policy of Socialist industrialization was unmistakable. The first results were summed up by the Fifteenth Party Congress, which met in December 1927. In his report, Stalin drew a vivid picture of the progress of Socialist industrialization and emphasized the need for further extending and consolidating the Socialist key positions both in town and country, and for plotting a course towards the complete elimination of capitalist elements from the national economy.
At the Congress, Stalin spoke of the backwardness of agriculture as compared with industry, and indicated the way out of this situation which was jeopardizing the national economy as a whole.
“The way out,” he said, “is to turn the small and scattered peasant farms into large united farms based on the common cultivation of the soil, to introduce collective cultivation of the soil on the basis of a new and higher technique. The way out is to unite the small and dwarf peasant farms gradually but surely, not by pressure, but by example and persuasion, into large farms based on common, co-operative collective cultivation of the soil with the use of agricultural machines and tractors and scientific methods of intensive agriculture. There is no other way out.”1
Why did the Soviet Union adopt the course of building up collective farming?
By the time of the Fifteenth Party Congress the backwardness of agriculture, particularly of grain farming, was becoming more and more marked. The gross grain harvest was approaching the pre-war level, but the share of it actually available for the market, the amount of grain sold for the supply of the towns and the armed forces, was little more than one-third (37 per cent) of the pre-war amount. There were about twenty-five million small and dwarf peasant farms in the country. And small peasant farming was by its very nature a semi-natural form of economy, capable of supplying only a small quantity of grain for the market and incapable of extending production, of employing tractors and machinery, or of increasing harvest yields. The breaking up of the peasant farms was continuing, resulting in a further decline in the amount of grain available for the market.
“There could be no doubt that if such a state of affairs in grain farming were to continue, the army and the urban population would be faced with chronic famine.”2
There were two possible ways of reconstructing the country’s agriculture and creating large farms capable of employing tractors and agricultural machinery and of substantially increasing the marketable surplus of grain. One was to adopt large-scale capitalist farming, which would have meant the ruin of the peasant masses, created mass unemployment in the cities, destroyed the alliance between the working class and the peasantry, increased the strength of the kulaks, and led to the downfall of Socialism. And it was to this disastrous course that the Right capitulators and traitors were doing their utmost to commit the Party.
The other way was to take the course of amalgamating the small peasant holdings into large socialist farms, into collective farms, which would be able to use tractors and other modern machinery on an extensive scale for a rapid advancement of grain farming and a rapid increase in the marketable surplus of grain. It is clear that the Bolshevik Party and the Soviet state could only take the second course, the collective farm way of developing agriculture.
The Bolshevik Party was guided by Lenin’s wise precept regarding the necessity of passing from small peasant farming to large-scale, collective, mechanized farming, which was alone capable of extricating the tens of millions of peasant farms from their age-old poverty.
“There is no escape from poverty for the small farm,”3 Lenin had said.
The vital economic interests of the country, the needs of the people, demanded the adoption of collectivization. And the Bolshevik Party, led by Stalin, fully realized this vital economic need and was able to swing the peasant millions into the path of collectivization.
The Fifteenth Congress passed a resolution calling for the fullest development of collective farming. The (congress also gave instructions for the drawing up of the first Five-Year Plan for the development of the national economy. Thus, in the very midst of the work of Socialist industrialization, Stalin outlined a task of equal immensity, the collectivization of agriculture. The accomplishment of this historic task entailed the most careful preparation, which for its breadth and scope may safely be compared to the preparations made far the Great October Socialist Revolution. The brilliant strategist of the proletarian revolution, boldly and unswervingly, yet cautiously and circumspectly, led the Party forward, breaking down all obstacles, keeping a vigilant eye on the manoeuvres of the class enemy and unerringly foreseeing his next actions, regrouping the forces with masterly hand in the very course of the offensive, consolidating the positions captured and utilizing the reserves to further the advance.
The Party created all the necessary materials requisites for a mass influx of the peasantry into the collective farms. An industry was developed to supply the countryside with machines and tractors, for the technical re-equipment of agriculture. Sufficient funds were accumulated to finance the development of collective and state farming; some of the finest members of the Party and the working class were assigned to this work; already existing collective farms were consolidated to serve as examples of collective farming to the individual peasants. Machine and tractor stations and state farms were set up which helped the peasants to improve their methods of farming.
Realizing that their doom was imminent, the kulaks tried to resist. In 1928 they organized a “grain strike,” thinking to compel the Party, if not to capitulate, at least to retreat. In the same year a big conspiratorial organization of wreckers, consisting of bourgeois experts, was discovered in the Shakhty District of the Donbas; similar organizations were later discovered in other districts. The wreckers had criminal connections with imperialist states.
Led by Stalin, the Party adopted emergency measures against the kulaks and smashed their resistance. The wreckers were severely punished. Stalin called upon the Party to draw the necessary lessons from the Shakhty affair, the chief being that Bolshevik business executives must themselves become expert specialists in the technique of production and that the training of new technical forces drawn from the ranks of the working class must be accelerated.
In 1928-29, when the Party launched the offensive against the kulaks, Bukharin, Rykov, Tomsky, and their whole anti-Party gang of Right capitulators and would-be restorers of capitalism, rose up to replace the Trotskyites and Zinovievites who had been smashed by the Party. At the same time the imperialists, relying on the capitulatory activities of the Rights, made a new attempt to involve the U.S.S.R. in war. The British and French General Staffs drew up plans for another attempt at military intervention in the U.S.S.R., to take place in 1929 or 1930.
Just as the victory of the Great Socialist Revolution in October 1917 would have been impossible if the capitulators and scabs, the Mensheviks and the S.R.’s, had not been put to rout, so the victory of Socialism in the countryside would have been impossible if the Right capitulators had not been routed in 1928-29. A most effective contribution to the victory of the Party over the Bukharin-Rykov anti-Party group were Stalin’s speeches on “The Right Danger in the C.P.S.U.(B)” at the Plenum of the Moscow Committee and the Moscow Control Commission of the Party in October 1928, and on “The Right Deviation in the C.P.S.U.(B.)” at the Plenum of the Central Committee of the Party in April 1929.
In these speeches he utterly exposed the Rights as enemies of Leninism, and showed that they were the agents of the kulaks in the Party.
Stalin rallied the whole Party for the fight against the Rights and led it in the assault against the last stronghold of capitalist exploitation in the country. Stalin’s genius, his inflexible will and brilliant perspicacity advanced the revolution to a new and higher stage. In “A Year of Great Change,” the historic article he wrote in 1929 on the occasion of the twelfth anniversary of the October Revolution, he said:
“The past year witnessed a great change on all fronts of Socialist construction. The change expressed itself, and is still expressing itself, in a determined offensive of Socialism against the capitalist elements in town and country. The characteristic feature of this offensive is that it has already brought us a number of decisive successes in the principal spheres of the Socialist reconstruction of our national economy.”4
The Party secured a radical improvement in the productivity of labour. In the main, it solved one of the most difficult problems of Socialist industrialization—the problem of accumulating financial resources for the development of heavy industry. It succeeded in bringing about a radical improvement in the development of Soviet agriculture and of the Soviet peasantry. The collective-farm movement began to advance by leaps and bounds, even surpassing large-scale industry in rate of development. It was becoming a mass movement.
“The new and decisive feature of the present collective-farm movement,” Stalin wrote, “is that the peasants are joining the collective farms not in separate groups, as was formerly the case, but in whole villages, whole volosts, whole districts, and even whole areas. And what does that mean? It means that the middle peasant has joined the collective-farm movement. And that is the basis of that radical change in the development of agriculture which represents the most important achievement of the Soviet Government. . . .”5
Thus, under Stalin’s guidance, the way was paved for the historic transition from the policy of restricting and squeezing out the kulak elements to the policy of eliminating the kulaks as a class, on the basis of solid collectivization.
This was a period when industrialization and collectivization were only gathering momentum, and when it was necessary to muster the productive forces of the people to the utmost for the accomplishment of tasks of the greatest magnitude. And it is characteristic of Stalin’s wisdom that he chose this moment to bring prominently to the fore the question of the status of woman, of her position in society and her contribution to the labour effort as a worker or peasant, and to stress the important role she had to play in public and social life. Having given the problem of woman the salience it deserved, Stalin indicated the only correct lines along which it could be solved.
“There has not been a single great movement of the oppressed in history in which working women have not played a part. Working women, who are the most oppressed of all the oppressed, have never stood aloof, and could not stand aloof, from the great march of emancipation. We know that the movement for the emancipation of the slaves had its hundreds and thousands of women martyrs and heroines. Tens of thousands of working women took their place in the ranks of the fighters for the emancipation of the serfs. And it is not surprising that tae revolutionary movement of the working class, the most powerful of all the emancipatory movements of the oppressed masses, has attracted millions of working women to its standard.”6
“The working women,” Stalin further said, “the female industrial workers and peasants, constitute one of the biggest reserves of the working class, a reserve that represents a good half of the population. Whether this female reserve goes with the working class. or against it will determine the fate of the proletarian movement, the victory or defeat of the proletarian revolution, the victory or defeat of the proletarian government. The first task of the proletariat and of its vanguard, the Communist Party, therefore is to wage a resolute struggle to wrest women, the women workers and peasants, from the influence of the bourgeoisie, to politically educate and to organize the women workers and peasants under the banner of the proletariat.”7
“But working women,” Stalin went on to say, “are something more than a reserve. They may become and should become— the working class pursues a correct policy—a regular army of the working class operating against the bourgeoisie. To mould the female labour reserve into an army of women workers and peasants fighting shoulder to shoulder with the great army of the proletariat—that is the second and all-important task of the working class.”8
As for the robe and significance of women in the collective farms, Stalin expressed his views on this subject at the first congress of collective-farm shock workers. He said:
“The woman question in the collective farms is a big question, comrades. I know that many of you underrate the women and even laugh at them. That is a mistake, comrades, a serious mistake. The point is not only that women comprise half the population. Primarily, the point is that the collective-farm movement has advanced a number of remarkable and capable women to leading positions. Look at this congress, at the delegates, and you will realize that women have long since advanced from the ranks of the backward to the ranks of the forward. The women in the collective farms are a great force. To keep this force down would be criminal. It is our duty to bring the women in the collective farms forward and to make use of this great force.”9
“As for the women collective farmers themselves,” Stalin went on, “they must remember the power and significance of the collective farms for women; they must remember that only in the collective farm do they have the opportunity of becoming equal with men. Without collective farms—inequality; in the collective farms—equal rights. Let our comrades, the women collective farmers, remember this and let them cherish the collective-farm system as the apple of their eye.”10
The enlistment in the work of building Socialism of the broad masses of the country, including the working people of the formerly oppressed and backward nations, was a signal triumph for the Soviet ideology, which regards the masses as the real makers of history, over the bourgeois ideology, which insistently inculcates the absurd idea that the masses are incapable of independent constructive endeavour in any sphere of life. Stalin exposed the reactionary essence of the “theory” that the exploited cannot get along without the exploiters. “One of the most important results of the October Revolution is that it dealt this false ‘theory’ a mortal blow,” Stalin said.11
Stalin likewise exposed the reactionary legend that nations are divided into superior and inferior races.
“It was formerly the ‘accepted idea’ that the world has been divided from time immemorial into inferior and superior races, into blacks and whites, of whom the former are unfit for civilization and are doomed to be objects of exploitation, while the latter are the only vehicles of civilization, whose mission it is to exploit the former. This legend must now be regarded as shattered and discarded. One of the most important results of the October Revolution is that it dealt this legend a mortal blow, having demonstrated in practice that liberated non-European nations, drawn into the channel of Soviet development, are not a bit less capable of promoting a really progressive culture and a really progressive civilization than are the European nations.”12
1. History of the C.P.S.U.(B.), p. 288, Moscow, 1945.
2. History of the C.P.S.U.(B.), p. 287, Moscow, 1945.
3. Lenin, Collected Works, Russ. ed., Vol. XXIV, p. 540.
4. J. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, p. 269, Moscow, 1945.
5. Ibid, p. 298.
6. Pravda, No. 56, March 8, 1925.
8. Pravda, No. 56, March 8, 1925.
9. J. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, p. 450, Moscow, 1945.
10. Ibid., pp. 450-451.
11. Ibid., p. 200.
12. J. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, p. 210, Moscow, 1945.
Next: Chapter IX