NOW LET us turn away from the decaying, declining capitalist system, with its mounting mass misery, exploitation, war and Fascist terrorism, and look at the new rising system of Socialism in the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics. No longer is Socialism, which is the first stage of Communism, only a theory; no longer is it simply the aspiration of an oppressed working class. Now it is a living, growing reality. Operating simultaneously in the world with capitalism, it is showing in the everyday demonstration of life its immense superiority in every field over the obsolete capitalist system. The very existence of the Soviet Union has a profoundly revolutionizing effect upon the working class. It is the growing hope and strong leader of a working world preparing to strike off the shackles of the murderous capitalist system.
The workers and peasants of the Soviet Union have overthrown the capitalist State and have set up their Soviet government. They have abolished capitalist ownership of industry and land and are building a great system of socialized industry and agriculture. They have done away completely with all exploitation of the toiling masses by owning, ruling classes. These fundamental political and economic measures are the substance of the revolution. They solve the many contradictions of capitalism and they open the door to an era of general prosperity, freedom and cultural advance hitherto completely unknown to the world.
In the Soviet Union, where the economic and political foundations of Socialism have been laid, production is carried on for the social good, not for the profit of an exploiting class. What determines the character and volume of production is not whether capitalists can sell it at a profit for themselves in a clogged market, but the needs of the masses of people. Socialism thus liquidates the basic contradiction—that is, the production of social necessities for private profit—out of which originates all the miseries and chaos of capitalism. Socialism thus revolutionizes the aim of production from production for profitable sale to production for social use. In so doing it frees humanity from the narrow limits of capitalist economy and embarks upon a totally new era of social development.
This social advance is made in an orderly and intelligent way. Socialism abolishes the chaos and anarchy of capitalist production and social organization; it does away with the dog-eat-dog competition of capitalist industry, breeder of industrial crises and war. It sets up instead a planned system of economy in harmony with the national and international character of modern industry and social relationships. Only under Socialism, with its great nationalized industries and collectivized agriculture, is such a scientific planned economy possible and inevitable.
In the Soviet Union this systematic advance on every social front is proceeding under the famous Five-Year Plan. In a world thrown into deepening disorder and demoralization by its growing general crisis, the superiority of the system of planned Socialist economy stands out like a great mountain. Even the capitalists themselves are compelled to recognize it and they try vainly to adapt it to the capitalist system. The correspondent of the New York Times only voices an almost universal opinion when he says: “The Soviet leaders know precisely what they want and are doing it, in sharp contrast to the rest of the world where leadership seems to be a lost art.”
The Five-Year Plan constitutes a gigantic mobilization of the social forces of a great nation for an organized general forward movement. It covers the most diverse phases of social activity, stimulating them all into expansion and systematic development. Ilin says of it:
“The Five-Year Plan is a project: not of one factory, but of two thousand four hundred factories. And not only of factories, but also of cities, of electric stations, of bridges, of ships, of railroads, of mines, of state farms, of rural communes, of schools, of our libraries. It is a project for the rebuilding of our whole country, and was prepared, not by one man or by two men, but by thousands of trained persons. To the work of building came not tens, but millions of workers. All of us will help to build the Five-Year Plan.”1
The Five-Year Plan deals with industry, agriculture and the transportation and communication systems, calculating the resources of these branches of economy, and providing for their development in every direction. It deals with the questions of housing, with the building of hospitals, etc. It provides for the maximum production and distribution of foodstuffs, expanding the new food industries in every part of the country. It figures out the number of workers required for production and plans their mobilization. It determines the total wage funds, including those for the cultural needs of the workers, for social insurance, etc. It makes provision for an organized development of science backed by the resources of the government. It calculates the national income and bases its whole program thereon. Besides the general Five- Year Plan, or rather within the framework of it, every city and every factory also has its own plan of organized work and development. The great Five-Year Plan is not simply an expedient for the present building of the Soviet economy; it represents the basic, planned method native to Socialist society and foreseen by Marx two generations ago. Planned economy is one of the great contributions of Socialism to humanity.
IN THE Soviet Union there is taking place an unparalleled growth in production. As Louis Fischer says: “The Soviet frontier is like a charmed circle which the world economic crisis cannot cross. While banks crash, while production falls and trade languishes abroad, the Soviet Union continues in an orgy of construction and national development. The scale and speed of its progress are unprecedented.”2 This huge and rapid development, this immunity from the devastating world economic crisis, is possible because Socialism by its very nature provides the basis for a steady and enormous expansion of the productive forces.
Capitalism, as we have seen, robs the toilers of a large share of what they produce. This cripples their purchasing power, making the markets lag behind the more rapidly expanding productive forces, and thereby causing over-production and economic crisis. It also, finally, puts positive restrictions upon the development of the productive forces themselves.
But under Socialism there is no exploitation and the masses as a whole get the full value of what they produce—after the deduction, of course, of what is necessary for the maintenance of the government and the further extension of industry—consequently, their purchasing power cannot fall behind production, but, on the contrary, tends constantly to stimulate it by the ever-increasing demand due to the rising standards of living. There can be no clogging of the social economy with unsaleable surpluses of commodities. The way is wide open for continuous industrial growth. The economic crisis is a capitalist thing foreign to Socialist society. The experience in the U.S.S.R. proves this beyond question. Not even the fact that the Soviet Union has to trade with capitalist countries, and therefore feels the heavy downpull of their sagging industries and declining prices, has been able to disrupt its fundamentally sound Socialist economy.
The existence in the Soviet Union of this constant and huge impulse for the development of the productive forces explains why it has no unemployment and why its industries are developing at a pace totally unequalled in the whole world history of industry. Stalin thus indicates the fundamental superiority of Socialism over capitalism in the development of the productive forces:
“Here in the U.S.S.R., the growth of consumption (purchasing capacity) of the masses constantly outruns the growth of production and stimulates it, while there, under the capitalists, on the contrary, the growth of consumption of the masses (purchasing capacity) never keeps pace with the growth of production and constantly lags behind it, again and again condemning production to crises.”3
When the Soviet government launched the Five- Year Plan, which proposed to triple pre-war industrial production and to make huge advances on every social front, it was greeted with a world chorus of ridicule by the capitalists and their retainers. It was one grand laughing stock. “The Bolsheviks,” the argument went, “are losing their grip upon the masses, so now, to hold on a bit longer, they come forward with this fantastic project.” Especially the Social Democrats distinguished themselves in “proving” the “absurdity” of the Five-Year Plan. Kramer, President of the Union of German Industrialists, typically expressed capitalist world opinion when he said: “If the Five-Year Plan could be realized in 50 years, it would be a magnificent achievement. But that is utopian.”
The Russian Communist Party replied to this barrage of ridicule and cynicism by putting out the slogan, “The Five-Year Plan in Four Years,” and mobilized all possible forces to achieve this herculean task. At the end of the third, “decisive” year, Dec., 1931, the record stood, in percentages of accomplishment yearly of the Plan’s proposed quotas of industrial output: 1929—106%, 1930—107%, 1931—113%. Hence, taking into account the progress in agriculture and all other factors, and in spite of a lag in several industries (coal mining, metal, railroads, etc.) in 1931, chiefly because of transportation difficulties, Kubyshev, President of the State Planning Commission, could correctly say: “The 36% increase (for 1932) of the output of planned industry means the complete realization of the proposals of the Five-Year Plan in 1932”—that is, in four years. The “absurd” and “fantastic” is being accomplished.
Ossinsky, a Russian economist, says: “Before us is one more year of Bolshevik attack, of decisive struggle for the Socialist industrialization of the country. When we shall sum up next year what has been done, out of the removed scaffoldings, on the cleared building sites, there will arise before your eyes, in harmonious perspective, the mighty edifice of the completed Five-Year Plan—a new Socialist country, reconstructed by the indomitable will and inexhaustible strength of the proletariat, headed by its Bolshevist vanguard.”
In 1932, as in the past three years, the main stress is being laid upon the heavy industries—metal, coal, chemicals, engineering, transport, etc. Also the utmost attention will be paid to consolidating the gains made, by the application of Stalin’s celebrated “six points” for the organization of the labor supply, the reorganization of the wage scales, the establishment of greater personal responsibility, the creation of a working class technical intelligentsia, better working relations with the old bourgeois specialists and better accountancy systems. Reporting on the first three months of 1932, the New York Times Moscow correspondent states (Mar. 21): “Preliminary figures for the first quarter produced yesterday at a meeting of the State Planning Commission show a startling advance over the same period last year.”
“Japan, westernizing and industrializing itself 50 years ago, was doing child’s play compared to what the Soviet Union is doing today,” says Frazier Hunt.4 Already, almost overnight, the U.S.S.R has become an industrial country. In 1931 the value of the products of industry exceeded those of agriculture, as 60 to 40. And that the development is going into the direction of Socialism, (which the Social Democrats also said was impossible), is decisively shown by the fact that the output of the Socialist sector of the general economy, including agriculture, amounted in 1931 to 91% of all production, as against 52% in 1928.
Not only is the output of industry being increased, but the industrial base also constantly broadens. A solid foundation of heavy industry has already been laid, including the big tractor, automobile, chemical, electro-technical and other industries, which have been built from the ground up. Daily new products, never before made in the U.S.S.R., are being turned out, from watches and cameras to gigantic blooming mills and great electrical machines. This year there will be produced $500,000,000 worth of commodities formerly imported. A year ago the construction of a turbogenerator of 10,000 kilowatts was hailed as a great victory; now several of 77,000 kilowatts are being built. The U.S.S.R. is rapidly becoming a great industrial unit practically independent economically of the capitalist world.
The great speed with which this industrial development is taking place is quite without precedent. Russian industrial production leaps ahead at an average increase of 22% to 25% per year; whereas the best average achieved by the United States, from 1870 to 1890, was 8.3%. The New York Herald, of Jan., 1930 (Paris edition), says: “The Plan aims to accomplish in half a decade an amount of industrialization which other nations—even one so richly endowed by nature as the United States took a generation or two to achieve.” Brand says: “There was a time when Europe was astounded at American speed, at the rapid growth of towns, construction of large enterprises and skyscrapers. The U.S.S.R. has left American speed behind.” E. Lyons says in Current History, Nov., 1931: “The colossal economic program on which the Soviet government is now engaged amounts to the telescoping of half a century of progress into a decade or less.”
In 1931 capital investment in Russian heavy industry equalled that of the three previous years; there was a 40% increase in the production of electric power; 518 new factories of all kinds were opened. The value of electrical products in 1930 was 580,000,000 rubles, in 1931 it amounted to 1,000,000,000, and in 1932 it will be 1,850,000,000.5 In 1931 the food industries increased 36% over 1930. In 1932 the total new capital investment in all spheres will increase from 16 billion to 21½ billion rubles. The State budget will advance from 20½ billion in 1931 to 27½ billion in 1932, with a surplus of 500,000,000 rubles, as compared with the gigantic government deficits in the capitalist countries. The value of industrial production since 1929 has increased 50%. Many industries and factories (oil, tractors, machinebuilding, electro-technical, etc.) have completed the “impossible” Five-Year Plan in two to three years. Leningrad, the greatest of all Russian industrial cities, had already finished the Five-Year Plan at the end of 1931. In three years the productivity of labor in the U.S.S.R. has increased 34%. On many jobs (Dnieperstroy, Stalingrad, etc.) world construction records were broken, etc., etc.6
As against these great achievements, the Communists, with dynamic “self-criticism,” point out many shortcomings. Thus Molotov says: “We did not fulfill our estimate for the raising of the productivity of labor in industry. . . We have also not carried out the proposals of the Five-Year Plan in regard to increasing the harvest yields. . . We have not fulfilled the tasks in regard to the reconstruction of transport, in particular of railroad transport.” These weak spots are now the center of special attack.
What the present tremendous growth of Russian industry means over a period of years is expressed by Pravda, Feb. 2, 1932:
|Coal||17,600,000 tons||56,000,000 tons|
|Coke||1,600,000 tons||6,700,000 tons|
|Oil||7,200,000 tons||22,300,000 tons|
|Peat||2,500,000 tons||9,400,000 tons|
|Pig Iron||1,500,000 tons||4,900,000|
|Steel||2,100,000 tons||5,300,000 tons|
|Copper||12,000 tons||48,800 tons|
|Cement||872,000 tons||3,300,000 tons|
|Superphosphates||67,800 tons||521,000 tons|
|Machine Construction||730,000,000 rubles||5,700,000 rubles|
|Tractors||469 units||41,200 units|
|Electrical Power||3 billion kwhrs.||10½ billion kwhrs.|
This terrific speed is the famous “Bolshevik tempo” of development. It is made possible by the sound economics of the Socialist system, which makes for a rapid growth of the productive forces, by the determination of the workers to build Socialism (and thus prosperity) as quickly as possible, by the pressure of the swiftly rising living standards and demands of the toilers, by the revolutionary enthusiasm of the masses in building the industries, by the burning necessity to render the U.S.S.R. economically independent of the capitalist world at the earliest possible period and to enable it to defend itself against the developing capitalist war attack, by the determination to show the workers of the world the superiority of Socialism over capitalism.
One of the basic factors, as we have indicated, in the stormy advance of Russian industry is the blazing enthusiasm of the workers. They have this enthusiasm because they realize they are building the great industrial system for their own benefit, not for a small clique of capitalist exploiters. Thus they have developed the celebrated “Socialist competition,” by which factory and factory, industry and industry, city and city, compete with each other in comradely rivalry to carry through sooner and better their production plans. Besides, the well-established plants “lend” large numbers of their better-trained workers to localities where mass production is just being introduced. They also have their “shock brigades” of workers to push forward difficult tasks, and “self-control” committees to check up on the work. There are 200,000 shock brigades, with 3,500,000 worker members, and a great mass of the self-control committees. The workers submit their “counter-plans” of production against those formulated by the industry heads. Examples: In the “Electric Apparat” plant in Leningrad the management planned a 72,000,000 ruble output for this year, whereupon the workers presented their counter-plan to increase the output to 94,500,000 rubles; the great Saratov agricultural machine plant was officially scheduled to begin operations by Jan. 1, 1932, but the workers’ counter-plan called for a production of 200 machines daily by that date.
Shock brigades, self-control committees and Socialist competition lead to great improvements in industrial technique and labor efficiency. Rubenstein says: “The number of suggestions and inventions by workers has increased one-hundredfold during the past year. Frequently one finds factories receiving thousands of suggestions of the workers in the course of the year.”7 How futile are the American B. & O. plan, “pep talk” methods in comparison. The young workers are the prime movers and organizers of this great shock-brigade, Socialist-competition, self-control movement the like of which is totally unknown in capitalist countries.
Swift though the present speed of development in the U.S.S.R. may be, the Russians would and could go still faster. Were credits available they would double or triple their orders for machinery in the capitalist countries. But most of these countries, especially the United States, systematically place hindrances in the way of such credits, hoping thereby to wreck the Five-Year Plan, or at least to slow down the, to them, very dangerous speed of Russian industrial growth. American imperialism, to the glee of Matthew Woll and Hamilton Fish, prefers to shut down its plants and throw the workers out on the streets to starve than to let them work on Russian industrial orders.
The new Russian industries are being built upon a scientific basis, not haphazard as in capitalist countries. The railroads, with great feeder lines of auto-trucks, canals, etc., are being built by plan, not with the endless waste, duplication and general anarchy to be found, for example, in the United States. The steel mills, chemical plants, etc., are constructed according to the last word in industrial technique, located at the most strategic points and coordinated with each other and with the whole industrial system. It is all one vast industrial machine, all the parts of which fit into and work with each other.
Naturally, the plants and the industrialization as a whole are on an immense scale. No combination of capitalists anywhere could organize such gigantic projects. This can be done only by a Socialist State. With only one or two exceptions, the great plants here cited are by far the largest in the world. A few of the new industrial giants, either just finished or in course of construction, are: the wellknown Stalingrad, Leningrad and Kharkov tractor plants, with a capacity of 100,000 tractors yearly; the great Amo and Nizhni-Novgorod automotive plants, the latter exceeded in size only by the Ford River Rouge plant; the huge power plant and industrial combine on the Dnieper, costing 840,000,000 rubles and employing 35,000 builders; the gigantic Volga and Angara river hydro-electric plants and industrial combines, both larger than any in the world, the Volga plant, starting in 1932, to cost 1,200,000,000 rubles, and its combine of local copper, chemical, aluminum, etc., plants to cost 3,000,000,000 rubles, or about as much as all the plants together of the United States Steel Corporation; the monster steel mills on a similar scale at Magnitogorsk, Kuznetz, Zaporozhie, Noginsk, etc.; the great Kamensk-Sinarsk plant alone to have a capacity of 2,000,000 tons of pig iron yearly. The gigantic Novo-Sibirsk agricultural machine plants two years ago there were only two combined harvesting machines in all Siberia, now this plant will build 15,000 annually, in addition to 35,000 tractor seed drills, 30,000 tractor hay mowers, etc.; the new Kashira electric locomotive works, capacity 1600 large American-type engines yearly; the Yaroslavl rubber-asbestos combine, unequalled in size anywhere, employing 22,000 workers and operating upon local-grown rubber (the newly-found “towsagis”); the vast new textile combine in Siberia; the monster electrical machine building combine in the Urals, to begin early in 1932 and to have an output valued at 2,000,000,000 rubles yearly; the monster Leningrad clothing factory with 18,000 workers, the great copper mining and reduction plant, larger than any in the United States, near Lake Balkash, to turn out 400,000 tons of copper annually, or more than eight times as much as the total Soviet copper production for 1931, etc., etc.
Just a few further details in this wholly unparalleled industrialization are the building of a modern national meat packing industry, the setting up of the most powerful radio station in the world, the construction of the “Turk-Sib” railroad, the digging of the Volga-Don and Volga-Moscow canals, the latter to cost 100,000,000 rubles, the opening of 10,000 new retail stores in 1932, the completion of 138 airlines with 100,000 miles of airways by the end of 1932, the Moscow subway, to cost nearly a billion rubles, the great Palace of Soviets, 6,000 new motion picture installations, etc., etc.
On such a scale and with such speed and planfulness, are the Russian workers building their industries. And the joke of it all is that only a year or two ago the Communists were universally condemned by capitalist wiseacres as hopeless tyros industrially. Now they are teaching the whole world an entirely new perspective of industrial possibilities.
IF SOCIALISM proceeds with great speed in industry, it goes still faster in agriculture. The vast development of the productive forces and the reorganization generally that is taking place with almost lightning speed in Russian agriculture is something altogether new in the world. During the 30 days from Jan. 20 to Feb. 20, 1930, onethird of all the peasants entered the collective farms in the monster organization campaign, raising the total of collectivized homesteads from 4,300,000 to 14,000,000 at one stroke. Anna Louise Strong thus describes this tremendous movement: “Can one give a smooth account of an earthquake? The storm of collectivization that I found on the Lower Volga in late November, 1929, was as elemental as an earthquake, as a tidal wave, as a whirlwind.”8
The Five-Year Plan was completed in two years in the collectivized farms, in three years in the State farms. The Plan called for 20% of all farms to be collectivized by the end of 1933; already there are 62% and this year will raise it to 75%, which will practically complete the most important districts. There were 1,000,000 collectivized farms in 1929, now there are 22,000,000 organized into 200,000 collectives; there were 143 State farms in 1930, now there are 4,000, or far in excess of the quota called for by the Five-Year Plan. Duranty says (N. Y. Times, Jan. 2, 1932) that nine-tenths of the chief grain centers are already collectivized.
These new farms are huge in size. In 1927 the average size of Russian farms was 11 acres, now it is 973. The State farms range as large as 100,000 to 200,000 acres; the collectives are still more gigantic, some running as great as 500,000 acres of cultivated land, exceeding thus in size by four or five times the biggest farms in any other country in the world. Whole districts have become practically single farms, worked in common by the organized farmers.
Russian farming is fairly leaping ahead from a condition of almost medieval primitiveness to the most advanced in the world. In many parts of the Soviet Union farming methods of 2,000 years ago were still in use up till the great drive for collectivization. Even close to Moscow things were not much better. Says A. L. Strong: “In the district of Koshira, only three hours by rail from Moscow, a survey made in 1930 of farm equipment showed a population of 62,000 souls and some 6,200 plows, of which 2,659 were of the home-made wooden style.” But so swift is the pace of development that Kalinin could say on Mar. 6, 1931, at the Sixth Congress of Soviets: “In industry great may be the advance in comparison with our backward past, we are still only striving to overtake the technical development of more advanced countries. But in farming we are leaders on a new road. Here we go before all nations.”
The farms are being rapidly and scientifically mechanized. Lenin said: “If 100,000 first class tractors could be produced and supplied with gasoline and tractorists tomorrow (and you know that this is still but a fantasy), the middle peasant would say: ‘Yes, I am for the commune,’ that is, for Communism.” Well, the tractors are now in the fields, 150,000 of them, and the middle peasants are practically won for Socialism, as Lenin foresaw. One of the revolutionary features of the new mechanization is the “tractor stations.” These are centers that furnish machinery and repairs, instruction, recreation, etc., to the peasants. In Dec., 1931, there were 1400 of them; in 1932, 1700 more are being organized, thus covering the entire country with a network of farm machine local centers, radiation points of all that is needed to build the new farming and Socialism. With this mechanization goes a fundamental improvement of methods in all directions, the development of scientific fertilization, the building of great irrigation projects, the beginning of the electrification in farming, etc. They are now even sowing wheat by airplane.
Already, although the general movement is just getting under way, vast improvements are to be registered in farming results. In three years there has been a 21% increase in the total cultivated area. The cotton acreage now amounts to three times pre-war, and other industrial crops show accordingly. Despite a still great lack of machinery and fertilizer, the yield on the collectives runs from 25% to 50% better than on the old individual farms. The year 1931 was a drought period; formerly it would have produced a famine, but with collectivized farming the general output equalled the previous year.
In 1932 there will be a further stimulation of the whole movement. The total new capital investment in the Socialist sector of agriculture will be 4,360,000,000 rubles instead of the 3,600,000,000 in 1931. There will be increases of the State cattle ranches of 40%, State piggeries 200%, State sheep ranches 40%, cotton sowing 14%, sugar beets 13%, spring wheat 5%, and a myriad of other developments of agricultural production. The world agrarian crisis does not bear down upon the Soviet Union; while in other countries they are burning coffee, wheat, etc., and the very farmers themselves are starving, in the U.S.S.R. every effort is being made to increase production, and the conditions of the rural population rapidly improve.
The revolution in Russian agriculture is of profound economic, political and social significance. The farmers are being proletarianized and revolutionized. The collectivized farms lay a solid Socialist basis in the country. The remnants of competitive, individualist farming are being liquidated, and the rich kulaks with them. The farms are being mechanized and industrialized, the unity of city and country established. The workers in the cities and on the farms are being knitted into one solid working class. Light and prosperity are being brought into the dark Russian villages. The whole social basis of the Soviet government is being enormously strengthened. The winning of the “fundamentally anti-Socialist” middle peasants to Socialism has been practically accomplished.
WHEN Lenin called upon the Russian workers to “overtake and outstrip the most advanced capitalist countries” industrially, this historic appeal was greeted with hilarious guffaws all over the capitalist world, especially in Social-Democratic circles. How could the “impractical” Bolsheviks ever do that? Preposterous! But now capitalism’s laugh is on the other side of its face. It is compelled to see that the Soviet Union, advancing with giant strides, is fairly running past the industrially stagnant and declining capitalist countries. “In the U.S.S.R.,” says Premier Molotov, “24 new blast furnaces were started in 1931, while 29 were closed down in the United States from January to September of the same year.” “In the U.S.S.R.,” states Brand, “we are building workshops, in Europe and the United States they are closing them down; the U.S.S.R. is launching new ships, in Hamburg, London and New York ships are being converted into scrap iron.” In 1931, while the Soviet Union was advancing its general industrial production 21%, that of the capitalist countries declined on an average of 25%. Since 1928 Russian industrial production has increased 86%, and that of the capitalist world has fallen 29%.9 While the national income of the U.S.S.R. increased 14% in 1931, the general drop in capitalist countries ran from 15% to 20%.
In the production of oil the Soviet Union now stands second among the nations, in coal mining and heavy machine building fourth. In 1927, it stood seventh in the production of electrical equipment; in 1931 fourth, in 1932 it will be second, standing behind only the United States. In the making of automobiles, 1932 will put the Soviet Union ahead of both Germany and Italy. In the steel industry it is overtaking one capitalist country after another; in 1929 Belgium was passed, in 1931 England was outdistanced, only three countries now being ahead of the Soviet Union in steel, and they also are being rapidly overhauled.
In the matter of total national income the U.S.S.R. now stands second in the world, its figure of 38 billions for 1931 being twice that of 1913 and exceeding the pre-crisis figures for Germany, Great Britain and France.
In total volume of industrial production the U.S.S.R. also occupies second place. The Economic Review of the Soviet Union (Apr. 1, 1932) informs us: “By August (1931) industrial production of the Soviet Union already exceeded that of Germany and was second only to the United States. While in 1928 the share of the United States in world industrial output was nearly ten times that of the U.S.S.R., by October of last year it was only about three times.” Few, if any, of the capitalist countries, now stricken by economic crisis, that are being so rapidly passed by the Soviet Union, will ever catch up with it again, even temporarily.
The second Five-Year Plan, recently announced and which will go into effect at the end of this year when the present Five-Year Plan is completed, provides a gigantic program of industrial and agricultural development that will further advance the position of the U.S.S.R. in world economy. The XVII Party Conference of the C.P.S.U. says in its resolution: “In the second Five-Year Plan the Soviet Union will advance to the first place in Europe in regard to technique.” The purpose of the new plan is to “transform the whole national economy and to create the most modern technical basis of all branches of national economy.” The first Five-Year Plan greatly frightened the capitalist world; the second increases its demoralization.
The tremendous scope of the second Five-Year Plan may be realized from the fact that it provides for a total new capital investment of 150 billion rubles, or about 78 billion dollars. What this gigantic sum means in the way of development is indicated by the comparison that it is equal to three times the I.C.C. valuation of the total railroad mileage of the United States—26 billion dollars, a figure which includes one-third to one-half of watered values.
Some of the details of the immense second Five- Year Plan are the following: the development of six times as much electrical power in 1937 as in 1932, extension of the machine building industry 3½ times, increase of coal production from 90 million tons in 1932 to 250 million in 1937, 300% increase in the production of oil, the yearly production of 22 million tons of pig iron, (requiring a tempo of development twice as fast as that of the United States and Germany in their best days), an output of 170,000 tractors per year, the building of 30,000 kilometers of railroads, accompanied with a complete reorganization, including the establishment of the block system, automatic couplers, bigger locomotives and cars, new bridges, extensive electrification, etc. The main aim will be to build the heavy industries and power base, but the light industries will also be developed 200% to 300%. In agriculture similar great advances will be made, including a large extension of the sown area (cotton and flax 100%, sugar beets 200%, etc.), complete collectivization of the land, complete mechanization of the main branches of agriculture and the beginnings of electrification, including the electrical stimulation of plant growth, a huge increase of livestock, a large expansion of wheat production to insure against drought years, the construction of automobile roads on a vast scale, etc., etc. The Party resolution expresses “the firm conviction that the main tasks of the second Five-Year Plan will not only be fulfilled, but even surpassed.”
The accomplishment of this stupendous plan of development will put the U.S.S.R. within hailing distance of the United States in the matter of industrial output. In one fundamental (not to mention many lesser ones), that of the production of electrical power, the Russian figure in 1937 will exceed that of the United States in 1929. Engineer C. A. Gill of the B. & O. Railroad, just returned from the Soviet Union, says of the railroads: “Russia is today already second only to the United States in tonnage carried. In the next five years she will equal this country.”10 At its present rate of development the U.S.S.R. will be the world’s leader in industrial production within 10 years. By that time Lenin’s famous slogan, “to overtake and surpass the most advanced capitalist countries,” will be fully realized.
BUT THE Soviet Union is not only rapidly increasing its industrial and agricultural production; it is at the same time building an industrial (and social) system superior in structure and function to that of capitalism. Instead of a hodge-podge of competitive and unprogressive industry and agriculture, it is creating a great, modern, progressive industrial-agricultural machine ; instead of a profit-making apparatus to fatten a few while millions starve, it is building its industries for the benefit of the producing masses. That is why the Soviet Union is a land of no strikes. That is why the Russian workers and peasants are toiling so resolutely to build their new industrial system, undeterred by either the appalling difficulties of an undeveloped economy or the endless obstacles placed in their way by the world capitalist enemy.
The growth of Socialism marks the birth of the first era of prosperity for the workers. Under capitalism everywhere wealth piles up automatically in the hands of the parasitic owners of the industries, while the masses of actual producers live at the bare subsistence line. But in the Socialist Soviet Union all this is fundamentally changed. There production is carried on for the benefit of those who actually work. There are no artificial limits placed upon production by the need to sell in a clogged market. Hence productive forces develop freely and rapidly, and as production increases the added output inevitably translates itself into higher wages, shorter hours, better working conditions, more elaborate cultural institutions, etc., for the toilers. “There are no beggars or lines of unemployed in Soviet streets—no rent evictions, no ragged despair,” says Duranty. One of the most infamous and ridiculous capitalist lies against the Soviet Union is that the Russian workers are “exploited.” How can they possibly be “exploited” when there is no ruling, owning class, no class to get a rake-off from the worker’s production?11
It is a revolutionary fact of first importance that only in the Soviet Union, of all the world, are the conditions of the toilers now being improved. In every respect they are advancing, while in all capitalist countries, the United States included, the standards of the workers have catastrophically declined, until mass starvation is a common phenomenon. The workers everywhere, penetrating the lies of capitalism, are beginning to understand the significance of this rise of workers’ standards under Socialism and their decline under capitalism. That is the reason millions of them want to go to the Soviet Union; it explains why the working class everywhere is more and more looking to the Soviet Union as the guide it must follow in its fight for freedom and prosperity.
The main task of all capitalist governments is the suppression and exploitation of the toiling masses; but the very reason-for-being of the revolutionary Soviet government is the fundamental improvement of the conditions of these masses. This, characteristically, the Soviet government does according to plan. Not only is the development of industry and agriculture the object of the State planning, but also the systematic improvement of wages, hours, living and cultural conditions, etc. Up till now, in order to lay a solid Socialist foundation for real worker prosperity, the government has had to apply every possible energy and resource to the development of industry. Nevertheless, it has been able to accomplish profound betterments in the workers’ conditions. Let us briefly review some of them:
Unemployment, that terror of the capitalist system, has no place in a Socialist system. The consuming power of the masses keeps pace with and outstrips their producing power. Hence, unemployment has been wiped out in the Soviet Union. The right to work, alien and unknown to capitalist society, has been fully established. While millions of hungry workers desperately seek employment in capitalist countries, in the Soviet Union every worker has a job. And it will so remain. From 1922 to 1928 there was considerable unemployment in the Soviet Union, despite the steady growth of industry and increase in the number of workers employed, this being caused by large numbers of workers coming from the villages to the cities. Originally, the Five-Year Plan did not contemplate the complete elimination of unemployment by 1932. Nevertheless, this has been accomplished. Moreover, there is a huge shortage of workers in every industry. The working class, the most basic element in the productive forces of society, either stagnant or actually declining in numbers in capitalist countries, is rapidly on the increase in the Soviet Union. In 1927, there were (except agricultural) 8,866,000 workers and in 1930, 12,429,000. The last year of the Five-Year Plan, 1933, called for a grand total of 15,800,000 workers, but this year the number has already reached 18,700,000. In 1932 another 3 millions will be added, raising the total to over 21 millions or 133% of the Plan. Thus the very basis of the revolution, the working class, is being enormously strengthened, and that, too, by plan.
Under Socialism wages are as high as the total economy will permit; under capitalism they are as low as the workers can be compelled to accept. Hence, with the rapidly expanding economy in the U.S.S.R., wages are swiftly on the increase, in contrast to rapid wage declines in all capitalist countries. In the U.S.S.R. average yearly wages (except in agriculture) were; 1927—729 rubles, 1930—956 rubles, 1931—1,010 rubles. Calculating upon the principles of purchasing power and socialized wages, (which include social insurance, vacations, etc.), the wages of Russian workers are now about double what they were before the revolution. And the tempo of wage advance becomes ever faster in the Soviet Union, as the general economy expands, even as the rate of wage decline increases in the industrially decaying capitalist lands. Last year the Russian average wage increase was 18%, in 1932 it is planned to be 27%.12 The final year of the Five-Year Plan called for a total wage fund of 15,700,000,000 rubles; but in 1931 it had already reached 21,000,000,000 and in 1932 it will be 26,800,000,000, or 171% fulfillment of the Plan. In the question of wages the principle of “overtaking and surpassing” the capitalist countries also applies. The Russians in this respect have already passed many countries; undoubtedly they are even ahead of many categories of American workers, including miners and textile workers, and with wages advancing so rapidly in the Soviet Union and falling so fast in all capitalist countries, they will soon pass the rest. In all likelihood, considering the incomes of the working class as a whole, the second Five-Year Plan, which will at least double the wages of the workers, will put the Russian workers in the lead of the whole world.
In the question of the short working period, the Russian workers already are in the forefront of the world’s working class. In the U.S.S.R. the average workday is 7.02 hours, with a five-day week, as against an average of 8.50 hours per day in the United States, for an average 5¾-day week. In the U.S.S.R the maximum workday is 8 hours, with the 6-hour day for the youth and workers in dangerous and unhealthy trades (mines, chemicals, etc.,); in the United States the sky is the limit for hours, with the 10-hour day widespread, 53% of the workers in the steel industry working 10 to 12 hours daily and 27% working the 7-day week,13 little or no limitations upon the hours of youth and women workers, etc. The Five-Year Plan contemplated completing the introduction of the 7-hour day by the end of 1933, but this also will be accomplished in four years, at present about 90% of the industrial workers being upon the 7-hour day basis or less. In the capitalist countries, despite the huge unemployment, there is actually a tendency to increase the length of the working day; whereas, of course, in the Socialist Soviet Union the working day is constantly being cut. The second Five-Year Plan will make the 6-hour day practically universal in the Soviet Union.
The social insurance of the Russian workers, already the most comprehensive in the world, also is being rapidly developed. It covers every form of disability—sickness, accident, unemployment, old age, child-birth, etc., etc.,—and is fast reaching the stage of full wages under all conditions of disemployment. In the capitalist countries, as part of the program of thrusting the burden of the crisis upon the shoulders of the working class, the workers’ benefits under State social legislation are being drastically reduced. In the Soviet Union, of course, the reverse is the case. Even the radical provisions of the Five-Year Plan in this field are being greatly exceeded in accomplishment; the Plan provided that the social insurance budget for 1933 should be 1,900,000,000 rubles; as a matter of fact, however, it had reached 2,500,000,000 already in 1931, and will mount to 3,400,000,000 in 1932, or about double the original Plan figure. “Russia,” says Rep. Sirovich, (Dem. N. Y.) (New York Journal, Dec. 10, 1931), “is the only place in the world where charity and philanthropy have been abolished.” The Russian workers and farmers, with their elaborate social insurance, have no need for such miserable handouts.
The health and safety of the workers, in industry and in social life generally, is in the very nature of Socialism a first concern of the Soviet government. Tremendous progress is being made in these fields. In the same series of articles, Sirovich says, “Russia has a widespread and thorough health program. The Commissariat of Health gathers the best medical knowledge in the world and places it free of charge at the disposal of the Russian people.” While in capitalist countries, under the pressure of the speed-up system in industry, unemployment, low wages, undernourishment, etc., accidents pile up in industry and the health of the working class is undermined; in the Soviet Union just the reverse tendencies are manifest. The old-time plagues of cholera and typhus are now only terrible memories; the health of the masses is being scientifically cultivated. Industry is being made safe and healthy. No workers in the world have the vacations with pay, free rest homes and sanatoria, free medical services, etc., that the Russian workers have. In 1929 the Soviet government spent 54,500,000 rubles for safety and sanitation in industry; in 1931 this work absorbed 124,000,000 rubles, and further huge improvements are planned. For the general health services, including sport, the national budget for 1932 calls for 1,737,000,000 rubles. Such figures, of course, do not include the hundreds of millions more spent by the local Soviets.
The housing problem in the Soviet Union is a severe one, what with the heterogeneous collection of miserable shacks left over from the Czarist regime and the terrific growth of urban population. But this problem is also being solved rapidly. The national government housing program, which does not include innumerable large local projects, increases in volume from year to year: in 1926 it amounted to 292,000,000 rubles; in 1931, 1,117,000,000; and in 1932 it will be 2,892,000,000. Whole new cities are being built from the ground up, and the old ones rebuilt, on Socialist lines. Under the State Institute for City Planning 100 of such gigantic building projects are being pushed. Never was planned city building carried out upon such a huge scale. Such places as Leningrad and Nizhni-Novgorod are being rebuilt into model Socialist cities, with great systems of schools, theatres, clubs, municipal baths, libraries, athletic fields, factory kitchens, laundries, crematoriums, stadiums, hospitals, refrigeration plants, etc. Besides, Socialist cities are also being built in the country, the most striking of these being the already famous “Socialist Farm City” of Filanova. This city, to be completed by 1934, will contain a population of 60,000, now scattered in 127 villages, and it will have all modern facilities. The whole district will be one great farm, the toilers living in the city and going to their work in automobiles. This revolutionary city is being built in a district where the peasants are just emerging from the darkness of the middle ages.
The improved living standards of the workers are paralleled by similar advances in the peasants’ conditions. The whole village life is being transformed. More food, better clothing, better housing, a raised standard of living generally is the order of the day in the country. The collective farm movement is freeing the peasants from the hopeless drudgery of the past; it is giving them a much greater return for their work; it brings education and a new culture; it makes a huge saving in labor power which is being used to rebuild and modernize the whole life in the country. The Russian peasants are now taking the most gigantic and swiftest steps forward in culture and wellbeing ever made in any country in the history of the world.
The general rise in Russian living standards is manifested by a large increase in consumption of the more nutritious foods. The consumption of meat, for example, has increased 25% in four years, with a further heavy increase planned for in 1932. The production of eggs and potatoes, exceeded last year by 20% to 50%; the production of meat, butter, sunflower seeds and linseed by 50% to 100%; that of poultry and tobacco 100%. Whereas government experts in the United States are now teaching the workers how to live on a few cents a week, while masses of foodstuffs rot in the warehouses, the Soviet government is bending every effort to increase food production—which automatically means to increase consumption. In 10 years it is planned to quadruple the present number of cattle, sheep and hogs. The resolution of the Central Executive Committee of the Soviet government says: “In the year 1932, the fund allotted to goods intended for mass consumption will be greatly increased. This fund is rising (computed according to the retail prices of last year) from 27,200,000,000 rubles to 35,000,000,000. That is to say, the retail turnover of the Socialist sector increases 30%.” What government other than that of the U.S.S.R., would thus plan the betterment of the toilers’ conditions?
The second Five-Year Plan will greatly accelerate the rise in Russian living standards. This will be possible with the more developed industrial base. Wages will be doubled or tripled. The sixhour day will become almost universal. The social insurance system will reach the stage of full wages for every form of disability. Production of consumption goods will be enormously increased. Vast housing plans will be completed. The resolution of the XVII conference of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union provides: “In the light industries and in the food industries production is to be extended and a three-fold increase in the standard of consumption of the population is to be secured.”
The Russian workers and peasants, it is true, are still poor. This poverty is their heritage from Czarism and capitalism. But with control of the industries and the land, with capitalist exploitation and robbery stopped, with rapidly developing Socialist industries and farms, they have the solid basis for such a prosperity as no working class in the world has ever even remotely approached. The rapidity with which this prosperity will develop and its great depth and breadth will soon astound the world. Capitalists everywhere understand this. They sense the revolutionizing effect it will have upon the millions of workers in their countries who, in the growing crisis of the capitalist system, are falling deeper and deeper into poverty and starvation. This is the basic reason why the capitalists are redoubling their efforts to develop war against the Soviet Union.
THE PROLETARIAN revolution ushered a new era of social culture into what was old Russia. Culture, instead of being the monopoly of the few exploiters and a tool to maintain their class rule, has now become the boon of the broad masses, and a means for their emancipation. Instead of being designed to make intellectual slaves of the toilers, as is always the aim of the capitalist “culture,” the new culture in the Soviet Union is free and scientific. For the first time in history the working masses have a chance to understand life and to enjoy the intellectual treasures that modern conditions are able to produce. It is a veritable cultural revolution which, in the next few years, by drawing out the repressed intellectual capacities of the masses under the conditions of Socialism, will profoundly transform every feature and phase of human thought and intellectual activity. The Russian revolution is giving the greatest stimulation to science, literature, music, the theatre, etc., that the world has ever known.
In the Soviet Union the foundations of the new culture are being laid by a huge campaign of popular education. This is also being conducted according to the principles of Socialist planning. In providing for the building of great factories, the Five-Year Plan also utilizes the new industrialization for the education of the masses. Mass education in the Soviet Union assumes the aspect of a great “cultural offensive” which also develops with “Bolshevik tempo.” Even foreign capitalistic observers must remark the breadth and depth of this unprecedented movement. Duranty correctly says, (New York Times, Dec. 1, 1931):
“There seems to be no parallel in history to the drive for learning in all branches of knowledge, from reading and writing to the abstruse sciences, now in progress in the Soviet Union.” Before the revolution only about 7,000,000 children attended school; now there are 23,000,000. The whole school system is growing by leaps and bounds; the teaching is according to the most scientific methods, it is carried on in 70 languages, there being over 100 peoples going to make up the Soviet Union. A system of compulsory schooling has been adopted and everywhere applied. In the secondary schools there are now eight times as many pupils as in pre-war days. All told, 46,000,000 people, one-third of the population, are attending educational institutions. In 1932 the national government budget calls for an expenditure of 9,200,000,000 rubles for social-cultural enterprises. This is aside from a veritable network of educational institutions of the Communist party, the Communist Youth League, the trade unions, cooperatives, factories, the Red Army, etc. There is a whole deluge of books pouring from the printing presses, the Soviet Union being already the world leader as a publisher of books—not to speak of their superior quality. The theatre, the swiftly-growing radio and motion pictures, are also tremendous educational instruments.
One of the great achievements of this vast work is the rapid wiping out of illiteracy. In 1913 only 25% above the age of 10 could read; 90% of women were illiterate. Illiteracy has now been practically eliminated from the industrial centers and it will also soon go from the villages. By the end of 1932 illiteracy is to be liquidated completely. The fight against illiteracy is not simply a matter of the regular educational institutions; a real assault is being made upon it by the more educated sections of the masses under the historic slogan, “Literate, Teach the Illiterate.” The struggle against illiteracy and for education in general keeps pace with the growth of industry and the collectivization of the farms. Thus in those districts where the collectivization is well advanced the whole body of illiterates are undergoing instruction.
But the cultural revolution, as we have already indicated, is much more than merely giving the masses an elementary education. It is also more significant than simply a rapid extension of schools, scientific institutes, theatres, etc., that is now taking place in the Soviet Union. It is a profound revolution in all culture. A whole new cultural system is being born.
Under capitalism science is a slave to the class interests of the bourgeoisie. Thus biology justifies the mad class struggle and war; economics puts an unqualified blessing upon wage slavery; history proves that capitalism is society perfected; psychology explains away poverty on the basis of inferior beings, etc. Capitalist science is also a veritable fortress of metaphysical concepts of every kind. But Socialism strikes all these fetters from science. The working class exploits no subject class. Therefore, it has no interest to degrade science into a subtle system of propaganda, but on the contrary to give it the freest possible development. Marxian dialectical materialism destroys the metaphysics that paralyzes bourgeois science.
Capitalist science is planless and anarchic, the hit-or-miss task of whoever may be. But Socialism organizes science. In the Soviet Union scientific work is being done on a planned basis, with full government support. There is a special Scientific Research Sector of the Supreme Economic Council. Bukharin says: “The plan of Socialist construction is not only a plan of economy; the process of the rationalization of life, beginning with the suppression of irrationality in the economic sphere, wins away from it one position after another; the principle of planning invades the realm of mental production, the sphere of science, the sphere of theory.”14
Capitalist science sets up a metaphysical separation of theory and practice, and a corresponding arbitrary division of intellectual from manual labor. It is based upon a caste theory and does not develop the creative abilities of the masses. But Socialism liquidates this reactionary system. In the U.S.S.R. scientific theory and practice are being linked up; science is being brought to the masses and in so doing is revolutionized; a great mass development in science is going on such as exists in no other country; the basis is being laid for the eventual wiping out of the difference between so-called “mental” and “physical” labor.
In the U.S.S.R., as part of the general cultural revolution, religion is being liquidated. Religion, which Marx called, “the opium of the people,” has been a basic part of every system of exploitation that has afflicted humanity—chattel slavery, feudalism, capitalism. It has sanctified every war and every tyrant, no matter how murderous and reactionary. Its glib phrases about morality, brotherly love and immortality are the covers behind which the most terrible deeds in history have been done. Religion is the sworn enemy of liberty, education, science.
Such a monstrous system of dupery and exploitation is totally foreign to a Socialist society; firstly, because there is no exploited class to be demoralized by religion; secondly, because its childish tissue of superstition is impossible in a society founded upon Marxian materialism; and thirdly, because its slavish moral system is out of place, the new Communist moral code developing naturally upon the basis of the new modes of production and exchange.
Religion is now in deep crisis throughout the capitalist world. The quarrels between “modernists” and “fundamentalists” in American churches are one form of this crisis. Religion, born in a primitive world, finds it extremely difficult to survive in a world of industry and great cities. When capitalism was young and strong its great scientists, the Darwins, Spencers and Huxleys, were Atheists; but capitalism, grown decrepit and in crisis, tries to preserve religion in order to check the rebellion of the workers. This is why Einstein (“cosmic religion”), Millikan, Eddington, and other bourgeois scientists now are trying so diligently to “harmonize science and religion.” In the U.S.S.R., as it must be in any Socialist country, religion dies out in the midst of the growing culture. As the factories and schools open the churches close. But stories of religious persecution in the U.S.S.R. are utterly false, being part of the anti- Soviet campaign. Freedom of worship exists unrestricted for all those who desire to practice. Religious liberty is guaranteed by the Soviet Constitution, which declares:
“In order to guarantee to all workers real freedom of conscience, the church is separated from the State and the school from the church, and freedom of religious and anti-religious propaganda is bestowed on all citizens.”
In the realms of art, literature, music, etc., the cultural revolution also proceeds at a rapid pace. New standards, freed from the stultifying profit- motive, conventionalism and general reactionary spirit of capitalism, are being developed in all these spheres. In this great field, as in all others, the Russian revolution is carrying humanity on to new and higher stages. The capitalist world as yet has not even an inkling of the profound changes involved in the cultural revolution in the U.S.S.R.
IN CARRYING the revolution on to success the Russian toilers have faced difficulties without parallel in history. They have had to deal with a whole series of problems quite unique in human experience. But under the leadership of the Communist party, with a clear Marxist-Leninist program, and with the irresistible power of the revolutionary masses, they have been able to batter their way through all of them and to fight on to victory after victory. At every step in their hard-won progress, they have had to face, as part of the world capitalist attack, a persistent chorus of “It cannot be done.” And when the Russian workers have solved one set of problems their capitalist enemy has ignored or grossly misrepresented their victory and at once developed a whole group of new reasons why the Russian “experiment” could not possibly succeed.
No defenders of capitalism have been more energetic in these counter-revolutionary attempts to discredit the Soviet Union in the eyes of the toiling masses than the Social Democrats of the world and their American brothers, the A. F. of L. leaders, the Gompers, Wolls, Greens, etc. It has been the special task of the Social Democrats to lend an air of Marxism to these capitalist anti-Soviet lies. To this end they have macerated, juggled and distorted Marx to “prove” that the Socialist revolution must come first in the countries most advanced industrially and that it is impossible in a country so backward industrially as old Russia. Every capitalist lie against the Soviet Union has been fitted into this counter-revolutionary thesis and peddled to the masses of workers through the big organizations controlled by the Social Democrats. Even now, although he becomes ridiculous to the whole world, Kautsky, the leading Socialist theoretician, denies that any progress has been made towards Socialism in the Soviet Union.15 He says: “Since 1918 the Russian proletariat has sunk ever deeper from year to year from the height it reached. It is not approaching Socialism but is receding farther and farther away from it.”
According to these capitalistic Socialist pessimists, first it was impossible for the Bolsheviki to seize the power, and then it was doubly impossible to defend the new government against the armed attacks of world capitalism; next the U.S.S.R. could not possibly exist in the face of the capitalist economic and political blockade; then all was surely lost when the great famine of 1921 came; and as for the introduction of the New Economic Policy, which temporarily made some concessions to private production and trading while the foundations of the Socialist industries were being laid, this was hailed as the beginning of the end by the gradual re-growth of capitalism; and, of course, it was also quite “impossible” to set in order the chaotic financial system by stabilizing the ruble, balancing the State budget, etc.
All these grave problems, and many more that could be cited, were indeed extremely difficult. Defeat in any one of them would have been a major and possibly fatal disaster for the revolution. But the heroic Russian workers and peasants with the Communist party at their head, solved them all. Consequently, one after another, the capitalist arguments against the revolution have been bankrupted in the face of reality. But no matter, the capitalists have never failed quickly to cook up a new mess of “impossibilities” for the Russian revolution, all of which were widely advertised among the working class by their Socialist and A. F. of L. tools.
Especially in the realms of industry were the problems of the revolution “insoluble.” First it was said that never could the “impractical” Bolsheviks put again into operation the industries ruined in the long years of world war and civil war—in 1921 industrial production averaging about 20% of pre-war, and in the metal industry it was as low as 2%. Lenin’s plans at this time for electrification were typically scoffed at as impossible by H. G. Wells,16 who had imagined so many Utopias and bizarre worlds, but whose mind could not encompass the hard realities of Leninist policy. The Communists, so it was said, could never set up a voluntary labor discipline in industry, nor hold in line the then semi-starved workers. They could not defeat the counter-revolutionary strikes and sabotage of the engineers, nor could they produce a new supply of technicians and skilled workers. Later on, when these earlier problems were either completely solved or well on the way to solution, then the capitalist argument had it that the Bolsheviks, although they could restart the old industries, never could build new ones; especially was the Five-Year Plan absurd, etc. And finally, when the great new plants were built and their existence impossible to ignore, the capitalist apologists, with a myriad voices, declared that the workers never could learn to operate these modern industries.
But the workers have overcome all these “impossibilities.” One of the most stubborn of all the problems they have had to meet is that of securing an adequate supply of reliable managers, engineers, technicians and skilled workers, of building up whole new industrial cadres. This problem has been attacked in various ways; the old engineers have been disciplined and paid highly, foreign specialists have been brought in, including many Americans; but the basic approach to the problem is the education of new cadres of industrial technicians. This is being done on a huge scale. In 1931 there were 21,000 engineers and technicians graduated; in 1932 there will be 38,000. In 1932 it is planned to graduate from technical colleges and schools of all kinds 175,000, from “rabfaks” (workers’ faculties) 121,000, from factory schools 364,000. By the end of 1932 there will be a grand total of 4,000,000 students in technical colleges, rabfaks, factory schools, etc., as against 2,700,000 in 1931. One of the most striking developments in this direction is the Society of Worker Inventors, with 700,000 members, at the recent Congress of which the slogan was put forward of, “Save one billion rubles for the U.S.S.R. in 1932.”
In the second Five-Year Plan it is planned to train 1,500,000 technicians and specialists and to give technical instruction to from six to seven million workers. Such measures have cracked the backbone of this gigantic problem. But the need for skilled technical help in the Soviet Union is still a burning one. The Americans and other foreign engineers will play an important role for some time to come; but the Russians themselves, with their gigantic educational program, are settling definitely the “totally insoluble” problem of the industrial technician by the creation of a full supply of Red factory administrators and engineers, skilled workers, etc., out of the Russian working class.
In Feb., 1931, Stalin, at a great national workers’ production congress, declared:
“The Bolsheviks must become masters of technique! It is said that technique is difficult. Untrue! There are no fortresses that Bolsheviks cannot capture. We have solved a series of most formidable problems. We have overthrown capitalism. We have seized power. We have built up a mighty Socialist industry. We have turned the middle peasant towards Socialism. The most important task of our construction we have accomplished. Not much is left to do; to gain technique, to master science. And when this is achieved, our pace shall become such as we dare not even dream of at present.”
Events are proving Stalin right and the pessimists wrong. The workers are refuting in practice the capitalist assertions that they cannot operate the new plants being built under the Five-Year Plan. The huge problem of taking raw peasants from the fields and putting them to operate the latest type of modern industry clearly is being solved. Likewise that of combining democracy and efficiency in the industries. The productivity of Russian workers is rapidly rising, a 34% increase in three years. Small wonder indeed, with the newness of mass production in the U.S.S.R., that there were initial difficulties in putting into full production such great plants as that in Stalingrad.
The New York Times, Dec. 1, 1931, declares: “The Stalingrad plant began work with 10,000 hands, a great majority of whom were peasants, mostly illiterate, many of whom had never seen a machine.” It is in the face of such unparalleled difficulties that the Russian workers are building Socialism. And what has since happened in this plant, the “failure” of which was gleefully hailed all over the capitalist world? Duranty says further: “In Stalingrad today the latest American machinery is being handled by girls of 20 no less efficiently than by men in the factories of Detroit.” The official production records show for the latter months of 1931: Aug. 1866 tractors, Sept. 2151, Dec. 2735, Feb. 2875, thus bringing the plant to a full program basis. Ford recently praised the quality of these tractors.
“According to the Plan, the Azneft oil fields were supposed to reach American rapidity of drilling only at the end of the Five-Year Plan (1933). Several shock-fields, however, caught up to the American rates in the latter quarter of 1930,” says the USSR in Construction, No. 12.
In the other great industries and modern works the same record is to be found. Many difficulties are still encountered, as for example recently in the Nizhni-Novgorod automobile plant, but these are chiefly local in character and are soon overcome. Duranty says (New York Times, Jan. 2, 1932), “1931 did for the first time demonstrate that the Soviet Union not only could build great producing units but could operate them successfully.” And lo, another great capitalist “impossibility” has gone to smash in the face of the revolution. Almost overnight the Russian workers have mastered mass production. The whole history of capitalist development cannot register an equal achievement.
But the extra-special, grand “impossibility” confronting the revolution was to win the peasantry to Socialism. This, indeed, it was said, was utterly out of the question. The great masses of farmers, making up an overwhelming majority of the population, were hopelessly attached to the institutions of private property and bred-in-thebone enemies of Socialism. Sooner or later they were bound to organize and drown out the Communist party and all its works.
How the world capitalists and their Socialist allies gloated over this prospect; how they depended upon the peasants as their great ace-in-the-hole. But alas, it was not to be; the Russian workers and peasants also found the answer to this terrific problem in the gigantic growth of collectivized farming. This has not only won the masses of middle peasants for Socialism but has enabled the practical liquidation of the rich kulaks as a class.
Driven from one propaganda “impossibility” to another by the achievements of the revolution, capitalist apologists are now hard-pressed to find new “arguments.” An example of their bankruptcy was given by Isaac Don Levine in a recent series of sensationalized articles in the New York American. The thesis of Levine is that the capitalists should not worry over the successes of the Five-Year Plan because the Soviet Union has no basic natural resources anyhow and the whole business is hollow and unimportant. Levine, after a reckless twisting, misrepresenting and distorting of official Soviet reports, says: “Singularly poor in iron, copper, gold and silver, the Soviet Union lacks the four essential metals for the attainment of the goals set by Stalin’s jazzed edition of the Five-Year Plan.” He says further: “The iron found above ground in America in the form of machinery, buildings and equipment, exceeds all the reserves, visible and possible, in the immense territory of the Soviet Union.” Then he goes on to negate the supply of coal and water power in the Soviet Union, to belittle its oil and timber reserves, etc., reducing the U.S.S.R. to a beggarly country indeed in point of resources.
Now what are the facts? First of all, it must be borne in mind that the U.S.S.R. has been as yet but sketchily prospected for its mineral wealth. It is only now that this work is being systematically undertaken, and almost daily reports arrive of the discovery of new resources. Already, with vast regions still practically unexplored, the U.S.S.R. has known raw materials resources of gigantic, if not unequalled proportions. It has a superabundance of practically all the basic materials necessary for the building of a great industrial system.
(1) Coal: by 1930 the known coal deposits of the U.S.S.R. were conservatively estimated at 700 billion tons, putting it fourth as a coal country. Besides this, however, there are rich, undeveloped deposits in Siberia, stretching over an area as large as Belgium. (2) Oil: the U.S.S.R. is the first country with regard to oil reserves, containing 35% of known world supplies and with new fields being discovered from time to time. (3) Water power: already, as we have seen, the second Five- Year Plan definitely provides for a greater electrical power development than that of the United States, the most of it from water projects, and with much still undeveloped. The Angara River power possibilities are 30 times as much as the great Dnieperstroy. (4) Iron: the largest iron ore deposits in the world are the new Kursk fields; Prof. Gubkin (Soviet Yearbook, 1930), estimates these at 40 billion tons of high class ore, and says, “Preliminary computations permit us to conjecture that the Kursk iron ores will probably double the known world resources of iron ore.” (5) Copper: until recently the known supplies were limited; but large deposits have lately been found in Kazakstan, and in Feb., 1932, a great new field was reported from the Okhostk-Udsk region, with deposits of rich quality and extending over 20 square kilometers. (6) Manganese: of this metal the U.S.S.R. contains the world’s greatest deposits. (7) Platinum: same as in case of manganese. (9) Gold: important new fields have heen found which will make U.S.S.R. a chief world producer. (10) Silver: a weak spot but new developments are extending production. (11) Timber: the U.S.S.R. has the greatest body of standing timber in the world. The bourgeoisie, seeking reasons why “it cannot be done,” will have to look in some other direction than that of supplies of raw materials.
The capitalist arguments that “it is impossible” also found their echoes within the Communist party of the Soviet Union, where they reflected the despair of the defeated and declining capitalist remnants in the U.S.S.R. Their outspoken representative was Trotzky. He formulated theories that it was impossible to build Socialism in one country—that first the world revolution was necessary; that the Party was degenerating and surrendering to a rapid growth of capitalist elements in city and country; that the Socialist industry development was destined to go on in a declining curve of new production; that the Soviet Union had abandoned the world revolution, etc. The logic of his position would have led to the precipi126 tation of abortive and fatal Communist revolts abroad and disastrous civil war at home against the great middle masses of peasants. All this would have surely defeated the revolution.
Such, in brief, was the “left” deviation, which was Menshevism in thin disguise, an opportunist retreat from the hard struggle under cover of “left” phrases. Then there was the openly right deviation, led by Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky. The rights were alarmed at the rapid speed of industrialization; they were frightened at the sharp class struggle against the kulaks; they feared the workers would not stand the strain of carrying out the Five-Year Plan; they believed it impossible to raise the gigantic amounts of necessary capital in the face of the world capitalist financial blockade against the Soviet Union; they scoffed at the prospect of building the State farms and collectives. As a result of their wrong analysis, they wanted to make concessions to the kulaks and to slow down the fast tempo of industrialization. This, like Trotzky’s plans, would have been a fatal error. It would have strengthened the capitalist elements in the U.S.S.R. and disastrously checked the growth of Socialism.
The capitalist world was filled with great hope by the development of these deviations, which were the subject of wide discussion in the Russian Communist party from 1926-29. Surely now, it was said, the Party will be split and the Soviet government disastrously weakened, if not overthrown. But again their hopes came to naught. Under the leadership of the Central Committee so ably headed by Stalin, the Party masses, supported by the working class generally, rejected and completely crushed first Trotzkyism and then the openly right deviation. Trotzky later developed a definitely counter-revolutionary position; he is now capitalism’s chief maligner and slanderer of the Soviet Union, the whole bourgeois press being open and willing to pay for his attacks upon the Party and the U.S.S.R.
Life has fully justified the position of the Party in these historic controversies. The final answer to both the “left” and right deviations is the tremendous success of the Five-Year Plan, with its gigantic growth of Socialist industry and collectivized farming, burning enthusiasm of the workers, rising living standards of the toiling masses, the winning of the middle peasants for Socialism, the practical liquidation of the kulaks and nepmen, the great perspectives opened up by the second Five-Year Plan, the growing world prestige and revolutionizing effect of the Soviet Union upon the enslaved masses in all countries, and, in consequence of all this, the greatest degree of unity that the Russian Communist party has ever known.
The building of Socialism in the Soviet Union still confronts many great problems. And the Socialist system there will continue to face grave dangers and difficulties until the world power of the bourgeoisie is broken by the world’s workers. But its inner problems are those of a successful, growing new social order. Socialism in the U.S.S.R. has definitely proved its soundness. At the XVI Party Congress Stalin thus put the question:
“When we speak of our difficulties, we have in view not decline and not stagnation in our development, but the growth of our forces, the surging upwards of our forces, the forward march, of our economy. How many points to advance by a given date, by what percentage to increase our output, how many more million hectares to sow, how many months earlier than the plan to build a works, a factory, a railway—our difficulties, in contradistinction to the difficulties of, say, America or Britain, are difficulties of growth, difficulties of progress.”
THE FINAL aim of the Communist International is to overthrow world capitalism and replace it by world Communism, “the basis for which has been laid by the whole course of historical development.” On this the Program of the Communist International says:
“Communist society will abolish the class division of society, i.e., simultaneously with the anarchy in production, it will abolish all forces of exploitation and oppression of man by man. Society will no longer consist of antagonistic classes in conflict with each other, but will represent a united commonwealth of labor. For the first time in its history mankind will take its fate into its own hands. Instead of destroying innumerable human lives and incalculable wealth in struggles between classes and nations, mankind will devote all its energies to the struggle against the forces of nature, to the development and strengthening of its own collective might.”
The future Communist society will be Stateless. With private property in industry and land abolished (but, of course, not in articles of personal use), with exploitation of the toilers ended, and with the capitalist class finally defeated and all classes liquidated, there will then be no further need for the State, which in its essence, is an organ of class repression. The revolutionary State of the period of transition from capitalism to Communism, the dictatorship of the proletariat, will, in the words of Engels, “wither away” and be replaced by a scientific technical “administration of things.” The present planning boards in the Soviet Union are forerunners of such a Stateless society.
Under Communism the guiding principle will be: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” That is, the distribution of life necessities—food, clothing, shelter, education, etc.—will be free, without let or hindrance. Communist production, carried out upon the most efficient basis and freed from the drains of capitalist exploiters, will provide such an abundance of necessary commodities that there will be plenty for all with a minimum of effort. There will then be no need for pinch-penny measuring and weighing. Proletarian discipline and solidarity will be quite sufficient to prevent possible idlers from taking advantage of this free regime of distribution by either refusing to work or by unsocial wasting.
The Communist system will bring the greatest advance in culture and general well-being of the masses in the history of the human race. The present progress in the Soviet Union in this respect is only a bare indication of the tremendous developments to come. Industry, freed from capitalist anarchy and exploitation, will develop a high efficiency and lay the basis for genuine mass prosperity. Culture, emancipated from bourgeois class ends, will become the property of the masses and pass to new and higher levels.
The road to this social development can only be opened by revolution. This is because the question of power is involved. The capitalist class, like an insatiable blood-sucker, hangs to the body of the toiling masses and can be dislodged only by force. But when the workers have conquered power, however, then the way is clear for an orderly development of society by a process of evolution. Naturally, even after capitalism has been overthrown and the power taken by the workers, society cannot simply leap to a complete Communist system. There are stages of development to be gone through. The first of these is the transition period from the overthrow of capitalism to the establishment of Socialism; then there is the period of Socialism, which is the first phase of Communism. The complete realization of Socialism and Communism in any country implies the defeat of the world bourgeoisie.
The Soviet Union has been passing through the transition period from the overthrow of capitalism to the establishment of Socialism. It has been laying the economic and social foundations of Socialism by the building of a great system of socialized industry and agriculture, by raising the living and cultural standards of the toiling masses, by decisively defeating the nepmen and kulaks, remnants of the old exploiting classes. The foundations of the Socialist economy are being completed with the carrying out of the Five-Year Plan. Capitalism has been decisively defeated in the Soviet Union. Molotov says: “The fundamental Leninist question ‘who will beat whom’ has been decided against capitalism and in favor of Socialism.”
The second Five-Year Plan carries the Soviet Union definitely into the period of Socialism; the resolution of the XVII conference of the Communist party of the Soviet Union says: “The fundamental political task of the second Five-Year Plan is the final liquidation of the capitalist class and of classes in general, the complete removal of the causes which produce class differences and exploitation, the overcoming of the remnants of capitalism in economy and in the minds of the people, the conversion of the whole of the working population of the country into conscious and active builders of the classless Socialist society.” But, says Molotov, the stage of Socialism, “will not by a long way be ended in the second five-year period.”
On the general characteristics of the Socialist stage of development and its relation to Communism, the Program of the Communist International says:
“This higher stage of Communism, the stage in which Communist society has already developed on its own foundations, in which an enormous growth of social productive forces has accompanied the manifold development of man—pre-supposes, as an historical condition precedent, a lower stage of development, the stage of Socialism. At this lower stage Communist society only just emerges from capitalist society and bears all the economic, ethical and intellectual birthmarks it has inherited from the society from whose womb it is just emerging. The productive forces of Socialism are not yet sufficiently developed to assure a distribution of products of labor according to needs; these are distributed according to the amount of labor expended. Division of labor, i.e., the system whereby certain groups perform certain labor functions, and especially the distinction between mental and manual labor, still exists. Although classes are abolished, traces of the old class divisions of society, and, consequently, remnants of the proletarian State power, coercion, laws, still exist. Consequently, certain traces of inequality which have not yet managed to die out altogether, still remain. The antagonism between town and country has not yet been entirely removed. But none of these survivals of former society is protected or defended by any social force. Being the product of a definite level of productive forces, they will disappear as rapidly as mankind, freed from the fetters of the capitalist system, subjugates the forces of nature, reeducates itself in the spirit of Communism, and passes from Socialism to complete Communism.”
THE PROLETARIAN revolution marks the birth of real democracy. For the first time the toiling masses become free. Under chattel slavery, feudalism and capitalism they were oppressed and enslaved, merely the forms of this slavery changing with the varying modes of exploitation. All the capitalist “democracies,” the United States included, are only the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, masked with hypocritical democratic pretenses. But the proletarian revolution, by doing away with private ownership of the social means of production and distribution and by abolishing the exploitation of the toilers, destroys the very foundations of enslavement and lays the groundwork for the establishment of a true democracy in which there are neither oppressors nor oppressed.
The first form of the new toilers’ democracy after the overthrow of capitalism is the dictatorship of the proletariat. Of this type of State Marx said, with wonderful penetration, over two generations ago:
“Between capitalist and Communist society there lies a period of revolutionary transformation from the former to the latter. A stage of political transition corresponds to this period, and the State during this period can be no other than the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.”
The dictatorship of the proletariat, unlike the capitalist dictatorship, makes no pretenses of being an all-class democracy, a democracy of both exploiters and exploited. It is frankly a democracy of the toiling masses, directed against the exploiters. Its freedom is only for useful producers, not for social parasites. Lenin, writing before the Russian revolution, says: “Together with an immense expansion of democracy for the first time becoming democracy of the poor, democracy—of the people and not democracy of the rich folk—the dictatorship of the proletariat will produce a whole series of restrictions of liberty in the case of the oppressors, exploiters and capitalists.”17
The dictatorship of the proletariat, or the Workers’ and Farmers’ government, is a kind of State. Lenin thus defines a State: “The State is a particular form of organization of force; it is the organization of violence for the holding down of some class.” Thus the capitalist State, strong right arm of the bourgeoisie, has as its basic function, the holding by force of the working class under capitalist exploitation. But, Lenin goes on to explain: “What is the class which the proletariat must hold down? It can only be, naturally, the exploiting class, i.e., the bourgeoisie.” The fundamental difference between the capitalist State and the dictatorship of the proletariat, however, is that the former is the rule of a small, exploiting minority, and it perpetuates this rule by force and demagogy; while the latter is the rule of the great toiling majority and it directs its power towards abolishing every form of exploitation and the liquidation of the exploiting classes. The Program of the Communist International says:
“The dictatorship of the proletariat is a continuation of the class struggle under new conditions. The dictatorship of the proletariat is a stubborn fight—bloody and bloodless, violent and peaceful, military and economic, pedagogical and administrative—against the remnants of the exploiting classes within the country, against the upshoots of the new bourgeoisie that spring up on the basis of the still prevailing commodity production.”
To establish the dictatorship of the proletariat it is not merely a question of making over the defeated capitalist government. Engels states in his 1888 preface to the Communist Manifesto: “One thing especially was proved by the (Paris) Commune, viz., that the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made State machinery and wield it for its own purposes.” The capitalist State must be broken down and the Workers’ State built from the ground up on entirely different principles, and this was done in the U.S.S.R,. In doing so it has been necessary to set up a powerful Red Army and the well-known O.G.P.U. to defend the revolution against the capitalist attacks from within and without.
The dictatorship of the proletariat is the democratic rule of the toiling masses, with the working class in the lead, developing the revolutionary program and forming the core of the revolutionary organization. The Program of the Communist International says:
“The dictatorship of the proletariat implies that the industrial workers alone are capable of leading the entire mass of the toilers. On the other hand, while representing the dictatorship of a single class, the dictatorship of the proletariat at the same time represents a special form of class alliance between the proletariat, as the vanguard of the toiling masses, and the numerous non-proletarian sections of the toiling masses, or the majority of them. It represents an alliance for the complete overthrow of capital, for the complete suppression of the opposition of the bourgeoisie and its attempts at restoration, an alliance aiming at the complete building up and consolidation of Socialism.”
Only when the capitalist class is decisively beaten on a national and international scale and class lines finally broken down will the workers’ need for a State die out and the proletarian dictatorship “wither away.” Under the classless, Stateless regime of Communism there will exist a broad and genuine freedom such as the world heretofore has not even remotely approached. Lenin says in his The State and Revolution, p. 91:
“Only then will be possible and will be realized a really full democracy, a democracy without any exceptions. And only then will democracy itself begin to wither away in virtue of the simple fact that, freed from capitalist slavery, from the innumerable horrors, savagery, absurdities, and infamies of capitalist exploitation, people will gradually become accustomed to the observance of the elementary rules of social life, known for centuries, repeated for thousands of years in all sermons. They will become accustomed to their observance without force, without constraint, without subjection, without the special apparatus for compulsion which is called the State.”
The government of the Soviet Union is a dictatorship of the proletariat, or rule of the workers. For the toiling masses of factory and farm it establishes a genuine democracy, a democracy totally different from and incomparably in advance of the so-called democracy of the capitalist countries. But, as we have remarked, this democracy does not extend to the exploiting classes, or rather what is left of them. The Soviet government, as a Workers’ State, is liquidating these classes and the whole system of robbery upon which their rule was based. The economic and political power of the big capitalists and landlords has been completely shattered and they no longer exist as a class; now the kulaks (rich farmers) and nepmen (petty traders) are going the same way into social oblivion as classes. All this has not been accomplished without the sharpest struggle which, in its early stages, amounted to civil war. But the current bloodcurdling stories of violence and persecution are gross fabrications, circulated by capitalist agents to discredit the Soviet Union in the eyes of the world’s toilers.
Citizenship in the Soviet democracy is based upon work, only those doing useful labor being allowed to vote. The parasitic remnants, such as ex-nobles, Czarist officers, landlords, capitalists, clericals, etc., are disfranchised. There are no qualifications of sex, nationality, residence, etc.; whoever works can vote. The Soviets are made up of representatives coming directly from the toiling masses, from the factories and the villages. Not wealth, as in all the capitalist countries, but actual service to society, is the foundation of citizenship in the U.S.S.R.
Not only in politics do the toiling masses exercise their democracy, but also in every field of social organization and activity. The trade unions, based upon factory committees, establish an industrial democracy completely without parallel in any other part of the world. Even in the realms of art and science and literature, the influence, direct and indirect, of the working masses in the factories and fields is felt. For example, the formulation of the second Five-Year Plan is being made on the basis of the broadest mass discussion. Duranty says, (New York Times, Mar. 5, 1932): “Every stage of the work is subjected to full discussion by workers, party members, executives and government officials.” In no country in the world do the toilers enjoy such free speech, right of organization and general participation in every social institution as in the Soviet Union. Tales about the personal dictatorship of Stalin, about “forced labor,” about the suppression of the freedom of the masses, are, like the earlier stories about the “nationalization of women,” etc., plain lies. Charges by enemies that the Soviet system is an oppressive autocracy conflict fatally with their other charges that there is so much democracy in industry that it interferes with efficiency.
Lenin says: “The Soviet democracy consists of workers organized so informally that for the first time the people as a whole are learning to govern.”18 To carry out their democratic activities in all social fields, the Russian workers and peasants have built up the most gigantic mass organizations in human history. These stretch over all phases of the economic, political and social life, and are of decisive influence. Among the more important of them are the Communist organizations proper (the Party, the Youth and the Pioneers) with about 15,000,000 members all told, the trade unions with 17,000,000, and the consumers’ cois operatives with 70,000,000. Besides, there are many more vast organizations for culture, defense, sport, aviation, etc., containing scores of millions of members. The Soviet electorate, numbering 85,000,000 voters, is by far the largest in the world. These tremendous mass organizations of toilers, entirely without comparison in capitalist countries, are the very backbone of the whole Soviet system. They are all growing very rapidly, an example being the Party, which has increased seven-fold, from 440,000 members to 2,800,000, since the death of Lenin.
While the workers in all capitalist countries face ever-increasing tendencies towards Fascism and the denial of their most elementary rights, in the Soviet Union the workers and peasants are building a great new freedom. In the comparison, fatal to the world capitalist system, of the decaying capitalism as against the rising Socialism, this fact has a vital significance that the oppressed toilers of the world will not fail to understand. It is one of the revolutionary nails that are being driven into the coffin of moribund capitalism.
THE LEADER and organizer of the proletarian dictatorship is the Communist party. In a Socialist society, based upon the workers and farmers and where the aim of the government is to advance solely the interests of these toiling masses, there is room for only one Party, the Communist Party. Of course, in the capitalist countries the Socialists and other defenders of the pseudo-democracy of capitalism protest against this situation and demand the right of political organization for the remnants of the old exploiting classes. But what stupidity it would be for the victorious workers, whose aim it is to liquidate all classes, to permit these counter-revolutionary elements to organize themselves into political parties and thus enable them to sabotage the new regime, to fight for the reestablishment of their system of robbing the workers and generally to act as a barrier to the progress of the new society.
It is a capitalist lie that pictures the Russian Communist party as a sort of clique ruling over the masses. On the contrary, the doors of the Party, although they are closed against the remnants of the former ruling classes, are wide open to all earnest workers and poor farmers who accept its full program and are willing to perform the hard tasks which it demands of its members. A great mass organization itself and growing by leaps and bounds, the Communist party gives all possible stimulation to the other vast mass organizations which, under its general leadership, are the foundations of the proletarian democracy. The toiling masses of the Soviet Union know that the Communist party is their great leader and they give it their enthusiastic support. They have learned from long years of the bitterest struggle any people has ever passed through that the Party of Lenin is the only Party of the revolution.
The Russian Communist party is unique in function and structure. As the Party of the toilers it has the responsibility of facing and solving every major problem of the revolution. It is the Communist party that works out the basic line of action in all spheres of the economic and political life. As the crystallization of the most class conscious elements of the toiling masses, it gives the revolutionary lead in every direction. For this purpose its structure is especially adapted, being based upon nuclei (units) in the shops, villages, army, trade unions, cooperatives, schools, Soviets and every other institution. It is thus part of the very flesh and bone of the toilers everywhere. Without a doubt, the Russian Communist party, with its manifold tasks and roots deep into the masses, is by far the most complicated and highest type of organization ever developed by mankind in all its history.
The Communist party is the brain and heart and nerves of the Russian revolution, and so it must be in any proletarian revolution. It makes the most severe demands upon its membership. They must be models of proletarian courage, initiative, energy and resourcefulness. They are the leaven that lightens the whole lump. In the bitter civil war they were the leaders and inspirers at the fighting front. In the dark period of the great hunger and famine it was the Communists who set the example of self-denial and encouragement for the masses. And now, in the building of Socialism, it is they, who, in the face of incredible obstacles, are carrying through the great Five-Year Plan to success, to the amazement of the whole capitalist world. In every crisis it is the Communists who fling themselves into the breach; for every great problem it is they who come forward with the solution and militantly apply it. That is why the Party of Lenin stands unchallenged as the leader of the masses in the Soviet Union.
The Communist party of the U.S.S.R. is based upon the principles of democratic centralism, developed by Lenin. That is, first the decision is democratically arrived at by the widest mass discussion and then, the discussion closed, the policy is executed with strong discipline and the mobilization of all possible forces. This is an irresistible combination. The mass discussion lays the basis not only for a correct decision but also for the discipline necessary to carry it through effectively. The Communist party of the Soviet Union is incomparably more democratic than the Socialist parties, the A. F. of L. and other conservative trade unions of the world. These organizations, with their hard bureaucratic ruling cliques and their contempt for the masses, are true expressions of the autocratic capitalist system of which they are such loyal defenders. The Communist party is the bearer of the first real democracy in the modern world.
A recent example of the workings of Communist democratic centralism was seen in connection with the struggle against Trotzkyism and the right deviation. These issues were the subjects of the broadest mass discussions, no other country or organization in the world has seen the like. Not only the Party membership but millions of other workers were involved. The results were briefly: a fundamental and mass analysis of every angle of the industrialization and other problems confronting the U.S.S.R.; the crystallization of a clear policy, backed by a solid mass opinion united and clarified in the great discussion; the overwhelming defeat of Trotzky and Bukharin, both ideologically and by the almost unanimous vote of the workers; the achievement of an unparalleled unification of the Party; and finally, the building up of a militant and intelligent mass discipline and mobilization of forces which is the basis of the terrific pace in carrying through the Five-Year Plan. Democratic centralism, the expression of the fundamental democracy of the workers and their natural discipline, bodes ill for the capitalist system.
The proof of the effectiveness of the Russian Communist party and its program stands amply demonstrated by life itself. It is the Communist party that has led and organized the toiling masses to the accomplishment of all the “impossibilities” of building Socialism in the Soviet Union. It is the Communist parties in the other countries, led by the Communist International and supported by the masses, that will strike the death-blow to world capitalism and build Socialism universally. The Soviet Union, the crystallization of the Communist program in life, and the shock-brigade of the world proletariat, rising and flourishing with its great revolutionary strength in the midst of a decaying, declining capitalist system, is the hope and guarantee of a new life for the starved and exploited of the earth.
1. The New Russian Primer, p. 5.
2. The Nation, Nov. 25, 1931.
3. Speech at XVI Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
4. New York American, Jan. 14, 1930.
5. A ruble is worth approximately 51 cents.
6. The daily press just announces, March 30th, that the great Dnieperstroy dam has been completed six months ahead of schedule.
7. Science at the Crossroads, p. 20.
8. The Soviets Conquer Wheat, p. 24.
9. Data from League of Nations’ sources and German Economic Institute.
10. New York Times, Feb. 19, 1932.
11. A typically absurd argument against Socialism is made in The Forum, Nov., 1931, by Andre Maurois that, “a permanent betterment of standards will again build up a bourgeoisie.”
12. Associated Press dispatches of Mar. 31, 1932, announce a general wage increase of 11% to 20% in all the light and heavy industries of the U.S.S.R.
13. Labor Fact Book, p. 87.
14. Science at the Crossroads, p. 20.
15. Bolshevism at a Deadlock, and other writings.
16. Russia in the Shadows.
17. The State and Revolution, p. 90.
18. The Soviets at Work.
Next: 3. Capitalist Attempts to Liquidate the Crisis