The Socialist Sixth of the World - Hewlett Johnson
I. Industrial Revolution
2. Burning the Past
3. Black Gold
4. Harnessing the Rivers
5. Steel Foundations
6. Our Servants the Machines
7. Arteries and Nerves
8. Socialist Harvests
9. Utopian Assignments
Two paramount needs confronted the Soviet Union in the earliest days of the Revolution. First, the need for war material. Second, the need for fuel, metal, chemicals, and machinery. These latter things we call capital goods — the materials and machines necessary if we are to produce consumable goods. War materials, for instance, depend on the prior existence of capital goods: guns cannot be made without fuel, metal, chemicals, and machines.
Thus, the supreme and primary need of the moment was for capital goods. These must be produced at whatever cost in human suffering; and in a land poor at the outset that cost was bound to be great, at times nearing the breaking point.
The normal means which other lands employ for the rapid production of capital goods was not possible in Soviet Russia. No capitalist country would provide them with loans. Socialist principles forbade the plunder of colonies. Re-equipment, therefore, could be procured by one means, and by one alone: Soviet Russia must depend entirely upon her own accumulated resources. That demanded a drastic pinching, and a constant shortage of consumable goods and housing accommodation.
The problem, however, of building up industry was of such supreme importance that it overshadowed every other consideration. Its solution would brook no delay. Stalin had rightly said: “We inherited from the old regime a technically backward and ruined country reduced to semi-starvation. Ruined by four years of imperialist war, and again by three years of civil war, a country with a semi-illiterate population, primitive means of production and small oases of industry scattered in the desert of petty peasant farmsteads.”
Lenin, at a still earlier date, had expressed the same thing with his usual brilliant clarity, “To save Russia we require not only a good harvest in the peasant farms — this is insufficient. We need not only an efficient light industry, which will be in a position to supply the peasantry with the manufactured goods they require — this, too, is not enough — we must have a heavy industry . . . without the restoration and development of our heavy industries we shall be unable to organize any industry, and without organizing our industries we should perish as an independent country.” And he adds elsewhere, “We shall be able by exercising the greatest possible economy in our state to use every kopek we save to develop our large scale machine industry, to develop electrification, etc.”.
Quotations like these show that the leaders were aware both of the urgency of the need and the cost of meeting it. The burden to be laid on the shoulders of the people was stupendous. The question was asked, “ Is it not too great to be borne?” Many in reply said, “Yes”, and urged the restoration of a modified form of capitalism. The Soviet Government, thinking otherwise, faced the situation resolutely and courageously. Soviet Russia must produce its own fuel, its own metals, and its own engineering plant. Soviet Russia must have its own heavy industry. The goal was perfectly clear, and the Government set about its task in feverish, some said dangerous, haste. Many protested. Surely it was better, they urged, to take matters more slowly and more considerately: to be leisurely was to be sure. And why, they further urged, this drive for armaments when no enemy was threatening ?
The situation of today is the peremptory answer to these questions of yesterday. The Soviet Government knew its own business, and knew it better than its Western advisers. The Soviets knew, too, that the people were willing to endure a pinch in order to build up an industry that would ultimately be a communal possession and subject to no annual capital toll.
They knew, in addition — and it was knowledge of immense importance — that without the resolute refashioning of its own industry, and without the tremendous tempo with which it had started, and which has been maintained from the earliest days up to the present time, the Soviet Union would never be in possession of the immense power that it wields today. Soviet Russia has only quite narrowly, and by its own Herculean efforts, escaped the fate which attends other victims of Hitler’s threats and ambitions.
Happily, however, the Soviet Union knew what sacrifices its people could endure. It knew what triumphs awaited socialism and what would be the measure of capitalist hostility when confronted with successful socialist achievement. Happily, too, it recognized in time the imperial urge inherent in capitalism, the inescapable outward thrust which compels capitalists to demand new markets and new sources of raw materials, a thrust heading for capitalist and imperialist wars. There was not a moment to lose.
The Soviet Government was in possession of principles which enabled it to forecast distant events with a clearness and reliability unusual in statesmen in capitalist lands. In -view of a situation upon which it could confidently calculate, and which was full of menace, it acted with a prudence which revealed itself to the casual onlooker only in external haste and reckless urgency. In face of repeated failures and inevitable blunders it began to build up an industrial machine second to none in the world.
All this precipitate haste has been vindicated by events. Russia is now in sight of industrial parity with the foremost capitalist states of the world. Possessing its own heavy industry, its own armaments, and it own rising standard of life, it at last stands secure in a world of stress and storm.
Nor must it be forgotten that internal reasons combined with external in pressing for a speedy and complete turnover to a competent and thorough-going socialized industrial system. Petty private ownership of farmsteads was providing a dangerous basis for capitalistic factions in the State. A strong socialized industry alone could tilt the balance and, by producing a powerfully mechanized and large-scale agriculture, could make the socialist basis of the State secure.
Under the combined spur of these needs the Soviet Government flung itself with great haste into the task of reconstituting industry, and naturally committed blunders in the process. Despite all difficulties, however, and in the brief period of twenty-one years, half of which at least were devoted to negative work, the Soviet Union has built up an industrial system which places it in the forefront of the world’s producing countries.
The output of large scale industry, which in 1923 amounted to 4,000 million rubles, in the prices of 1926-1927, has risen more than twenty-five-fold, and still it grows. At present more than 40,000 million rubles are invested annually in capital construction.
The total physical volume of industrial output in 1937 in the U.S.S.R. had risen to 840’8 if we take the output in 1913 to be represented by 100. The total physical volume of industrial output in the capitalist world at the same time had risen only to 149.4. The accompanying graph shows the colossal rise at a glance.
The Soviet Union is extraordinarily rich in natural resources. No country in the world possesses more ample reserves of raw materials. With half its territory as yet uninvestigated, the Union occupies a foremost place in known reserves of coal, oil, peat, iron ore, potash, apatite, and manganese ore, as well as in forests and water power.
The American economist, Emery Brux, enumerating twenty-two strategic raw materials essential for successful war in case of blockade, observes that Great Britain, apart from her colonies, lacks nineteen, Germany eighteen, and the U.S.A. nine. The Soviet Union lacks only four — tungsten, tin, antimony, and nickel —and already, and in recent years and months, it makes good this deficiency from within its own borders.
The land of the Tsars, rich in resources, was poor in knowledge of its wealth. It was left for Soviet geologists to discover the hidden riches, not only in the lands still unexplored, but even in centres of population long since examined. Tsarist industry ignored what lay beneath its very feet. The geological map needed a total reconstruction.
And now, the reconstruction takes place, with a rapidity unknown elsewhere. The U.S.S.R. is developing all its resources to the uttermost, and primarily its power resources of coal, oil, and water power.
Take coal first. The forests of the past. The fuel from the past. The bottled sunshine of a million years. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of coal. Modern industrialism is built up on a basis of coal. England’s industrial supremacy begins with the story of coal.
At first it was surface coal, scraped from the outcrops and used for warmth. Then, as the demand grew, mines were dug. Difficulties, when they arose, served as stepping-stones to new advances. The flooding of mines demanded pumps. New inventions harnessed steam to rid the mines of water: the stationary steam-engine had arrived. Coal needs hauling. Why not harness steam to haul, as well as pump? The iron road and steam locomotive had arrived.
Before long steam-engines were pumping water, winding and hauling coal, carrying passengers, driving cotton-looms, and serving man in a thousand other ways. And coal supplied the steam. England had coal. England exploited her coal supplies. The gaunt winding-head and slag-heap became as familiar sights in the English landscape as the haystack and barn, and industrial England clustered around them. Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, and Leeds sprang into being. The country grew rich and prosperous, though ugly through a get-rich-quick disregard of national amenities.
Coal is still in demand. Coal supplies heat, light, and power; coal-tar waterproofs our roads; coal products provide butter substitutes for food, dyes for frocks and fabrics, aspirin for nerves. Coal reigns, and though not unchallenged, is as vital as ever to industrial efficiency.
Tsarist Russia had coal. More coal than England. More coal than all the rest of Europe put together. Tsarist Russia never dreamt of the wealth of her supplies. Only with the advent of the Soviet Government was the magnitude of Russia’s coal reserves discovered and applied to Russia’s needs.
Tsarist Russia as a whole produced 29.1 million tons of coal annually. The Soviet Union had increased this, in 1938, to 137 million tons.
The coal-map of the Soviet Union contrasts vividly with the coal-map of the Tsarist regime, in which the Don Basin in Southern European Russia stood unchallenged and dangerously exposed to enemy attack: England at the Crimea stood on the highway to the Don. The rest of the map was largely blank.
Now, however, winding-heads arise in unheard-of places. The geologist went first; mapped the strata, drove the stakes, and said, “Dig here”. Railroads appeared, shafts were sunk, winding-heads erected, cottages built, families reared. Farms expanded to supply butter, eggs, meat, and fruit. The miller came. The baker came. The carpenter came, the tailor, the shoe-maker, the school, the printing-press, the cinema.
That happens when Soviet mines are sunk. That always happens. That was meant to happen. It was meant that the population should spread out and increase. The waste places were destined to blossom as the rose so that the peoples in remote regions might grow through exploitation, not of fellow-men, but of their own regional riches.
The geologist and his stakes were followed up as he drove them right across the continent. Some big stakes were driven in Western and Eastern Siberia, situated in the very heart of the Union, half-way between the world’s two greatest oceans and in places seldom heard of formerly.
Who knew of Kuznetz, at the foot of the Altai Mountains which divide the Soviet union from extreme Western China and Mongolia? No one, perhaps, save the engineers who tapped Kuznetz coal for the Trans-Siberian locomotives. Yet Kuznetz coal reserves are estimated at 450,000 million tons, 54,000 millions of it of first-rate quality. Were coal used at its present rate, the Kuznetz basin could supply the whole world with coal for the next 300 years.
Nor is that the end of the story. Perhaps it is but the beginning. For if you travel due north from Kuznetz, still in that central axis between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and follow the banks of the vast River Yenesei, which runs through Eastern Siberia to empty itself into the Arctic Ocean, you will traverse another coal-field with a promise rivalling even the Kuznetz area.
Huge outcrops of coal have also been discovered at Arctic Pechora in the icy north and at Karaganda on the sultry steppes of Kazakstan.
The Donetz Basin, again, with an abundance of coal, lies near the western borders of the Union. What of the eastern borders? What of the frontiers which infringe upon Japan? Should war break out between that country and the Soviet Union, must the Soviets transport all war material across a vast continent by means of a single railway system or depend on vulnerable ocean routes? And Japan speaks as threateningly in the east as Germany in the west.
The east, then, has demanded its own industry for defence and for the building up of socialism, and if industry must come, coal must be found. So Soviet geologists again map the strata and drive the stakes; this time along the Amur River, which flows into the ocean north of Japan. Here is found a coal-basin in the east as rich as the Donetz basin in the west, and with resources estimated at 100,000 million tons.
Yet another field clamours for mention. Herr Hitler has viewed it with covetous eyes, and said so before the Soviet Union grew too strong to make him look that way so eagerly as formerly. It lies in the Ural Mountains, which cut the Soviet Union into eastern and western halves, and it is situated in a region where iron ore also exists in abundance. The combination of these minerals gives peculiar importance to the Ural coal-field. For iron ore is useless without coal. Imported coal costs 40 rubles a ton: local coal only 22-27 rubles, and thus is helping to bring into existence one of the largest iron-producing centres of the world. By 1942 thirty-five new mines are to be opened in the Urals and the planned output will increase to two and a half times its present figure.
Science has done many things for coal. Geological science discovers coal. Engineering science excavates coal, drills it, saws it, lifts it on to travelling-belts and transports it. Chemical science takes coal and distils tars, scents, colours, foodstuffs, and drugs from it. Science reduces working hours at the coal-face. Science frees men from peculiarly perilous jobs which thrust them into the bowels of the earth, cramp them, double them up and remove them from the light of day.
And when science, in the Soviet Union, sets men free from one job, it provides them with other work; it does not, as we have seen, throw them on the scrap-heap.
Science is never still. It moves to fresh achievement. Science, in the Soviet Union, has an eye to health and beauty as well as material production. It aids the artist and the doctor. Science, as we have seen, gasifies coal in the seam and, with a minimum of human aid, delivers light, heat, and power direct to the users, preventing the consumption of raw coal in open fires, with fouling of air, rotting of buildings, and interception of ultra-violet rays. Raw coal-fires are responsible for rickets and consumption and many other diseases. They draw a trail of ugliness across industrial areas. Lenin had perceived this and fought for the removal of industrial ugliness when he advocated the gasification rather than the haulage of coal. Clean skies and homes lie ahead for Soviet workers.
Fuel oil is as essential to the modern State as fuel coal. Oil is to the twentieth century what coal was to the nineteenth. Goal reigns on, and with extended uses; but oil reigns beside it, and oil, the Black Gold of Russia, threatens to become the senior partner. Oil drives motor-cars, aeroplanes, and ocean liners.
Above all, the national defence force needs oil. A mechanized army is helpless apart from oil. Little wonder that oil attracts covetous eyes. The political world manoeuvres to gain control of oil-bearing regions. Oil is crucial in the Palestinian question. We hear much about Arabs and Jews, and little about oil. But it is oil that keeps us in Palestine. The oil line from Iraq is the key to the problem of Palestine.
Oil drives Germany towards Rumania as surely as oil keeps us in Palestine, and we all get stirred about the oil of Mexico. It is impossible to follow with appropriate intelligence the play and by-play of modern national movements apart from the study of oil and oil supply.
The Soviet Union needs oil no less than other lands. More so indeed, for its mechanized forces are the vastest in the world, and its chance, in case of war, of getting oil from any capitalist country is infinitesimal. Lack of oil might prove fatal. But there is no lack of oil. The U.S.S.R. possesses oil reserves unsurpassed by any country in the world. It occupies second place in actual world-output, and leads in the matter of electrification of oil-producing plant.
In Tsarist Russia the oil industry was limited to one small area, the Caucasus. On the south side of the Caucasian range was Baku, the largest centre, which yielded 83 per cent, of Russian oil. Grosny, on the northern slopes, yielded 13 per cent. more. The output from the rest of Russia, from Emba on the north-east coast of the Caspian, from the Ferghan valley in Central Asia, and from the island of Sakhalin, which Russia shares with Japan, was insignificant.
Soviet geologists have now discovered almost limitless reserves of oil, and more crucial still is the discovery of its wide extension. A belt of oil-bearing strata runs north from Baku, following roughly the track of the Ural Mountains, which cut the continent in two from north to south.
In the far north, on the River Ukhta in the Pechora Basin of the Arctic Ocean, rise among the pine-woods of a roadless, uninhabited land the familiar derricks surrounded by workers’ settlements, with electric power-plant and wireless station. Southwards along the Urals is a link of stations: Chousser, Sterlitamak in Bashkiria, Emba on the north coast of the Caspian, and then the southernmost wells in Turkmenia. Baku has lost her supremacy.
Sterlitamak, one link in this north-south chain, and lying in the Urals nearly on the same level as Moscow, and some 600 miles eastwards, has exceptional interest, for it supplies the needs of the growing Ural industries built up upon the rich Ural mineral supplies and far removed from the attack of German planes. Both banks of the White River, which runs from the Urals to the Volga, are dotted with oil-derricks.
This discovery of oil right in the centre of the Soviet: Union, at Sterlitamak, Krasnakamsk, down the White River, down the River Kama, and by the delta where it flows into the Volga, is of immense importance. It not only supplies the needs of the Urals, but it is conveniently placed for road or river transit wherever need may indicate, and builds up, with oil, coal, and other mineral resources, a powerful and invulnerable industry in the very heart of the Union. The Urals are speedily becoming the world’s strongest citadel.
At the International Geological Congress held in Moscow in July 1937, Professor Gubkin estimated the oil resources of the U.S.S.R. at 6,376.3 million tons. Six months later this estimate was found to err on the side of excessive caution. No limit can be set until the whole vast area has been explored. The output of oil, which had dropped from 9.2 million tons in 1913 to 3,893,000 tons in 1920, mounted up to 30.6 million tons in 1937, and the rate of increase grows.
Electricity is the handmaid of the home. It lifts the housewife’s burden. It simplifies domestic life. We switch on the light. Candles, matches, and lamps disappear. We switch on the heat. Goal and chips and dust disappear. We switch on the kettle, the oven, the griller. The sooted flue disappears. Electric irons smooth our clothes. Electric sweepers save the housemaid’s knees and the clouds of dust. Electric clocks need no winding and cause us to miss no trains.
Electricity is the handmaid of industry. The modern factory goes wandering away from crowded centres into rural areas. Factories leave pithead and railhead. Trunk roads and motor-lorries solve transit problems. The pylon solves the light, heat, and power problems. And, if we will have it so, an industrial colony may be as comely as an Oxford college.
Electricity places wholly new powers in the hands of man.
Far back in the last century, Karl Marx and Engels grasped, with prophetic vision, the significance for a socialist regime of the new discoveries of electricity, then in its infancy. They perceived, almost before the scientists themselves perceived it, that power as well as light would, in time, travel along slender cables to revolutionize our industry.
On November 8th, 1882, Karl Marx wrote to Frederick Engels :—
“Dear Fred, what do you think of Deprez’ experiment at the Munich Electricity Exhibition? It is nearly a year since Longuet promised to get me Deprez’ works (especially to prove that electricity permits of the transmission of power over long distances by means of ordinary telegraph wire. . . .)”
On November nth, 1882, Engels replied:—
“Dear Moor. ... I am very curious as to the details of the experiment made by Deprez in Munich; it is absolutely unclear to me how the hitherto valid laws for the calculation of the resistance of conductors, also used by engineers practically (in their calculations) can remain. It has hitherto been considered that resistance increases, for conductors of the same material, proportionately as the diameter of the conducting wire decreases. I wish the things could be got from Longuet. The discovery makes it possible to utilize the vast water power which hitherto went wasted.”
The picture lies before me of Deprez’ exhibit at the Munich Exhibition of 1882. A hydraulic motor and generator at Miesbach set pumps at work in Munich 60 kilometres away, through the agency of two slender telegraph wires.
The founders of scientific socialism not only recognized a wonderful scientific discovery, but foretold the economic and political consequences which were bound to result from it. At its very dawn Marx laid claim to electricity as the basis of socialist technique.
Lenin followed Marx’s example in his enthusiasm for electricity and in his recognition of its supreme importance in socialized industry. In the early and perilous days of the Revolution he formulated his views with singular precision. One of the most important tasks facing the national economy, he declared, was “ to devote special attention to the electrification of industry and transport and to the application of electricity in agriculture”.
Lenin had fallow land to work upon. Tsarist Russia persistently neglected electric power. Steam turned her machines, steam pulled her trains, gas and kerosene lit her streets, factories, and houses. Electric power-stations, save in the larger towns of Moscow and St. Petersburg, were few in number and limited in capacity.
For all its vast size, Russia occupied only the fifteenth place in world output of electric energy, and in producing that fragment was wildly reckless with her resources and uninstructed in her methods. Drawing, to Moscow, and at great transportation costs, high calorific petroleum from the Caucasus, and high-grade coal from the Donbas basin, she totally neglected the water-power of some of the world’s mightiest rivers.
A country so closely knit as that possessed of a socialist economy must necessarily require motive power which can be transmitted over long distances, which is universal and adequate in its application, and economical in its cost. Electricity fills all requirements. Electricity is the indispensable foundation for the large-scale production which a socialist State demands.
Lenin formulated a plan for electrification which was designed to cover the whole country with a network of district power-stations and transmission lines. The plan was adopted in 1920, and ten to fifteen years were allotted for its fulfilment.
In the same year, 1920, it happened that Mr. H. G. Wells visited Moscow. He had chosen a sorry but instructive time for the visit. For not even the imagination of England’s arch-dreamer could penetrate the outer gloom and turmoil of a young State in the early throes of a socialist revolution and see with any clearness whither it tended. From his railway-carriage window Wells looks out upon a countryside of wretched hovels, where famished and illiterate peasants have destroyed the trading settlements. In- the town the workmen, led—as might be said—by fanatics, were trying to apply the maxims of Marx to a people still in the stage of the wooden plough. Wells sees complete collapse of civil government. Chaos is triumphant. In his note-book he writes :
“In 1920 Russia presented the unprecedented picture of modern civilization in a, state of complete collapse. The railways were rusting and falling by degrees into disuse; the towns were falling into ruins.”
In the Kremlin he met Lenity and makes this further entry in his note-book :
“Lenin, who like a good orthodox Marxist denounces all Utopians, has succumbed at last to a Utopia, the Utopia of the electricians. He is throwing all his weight into a scheme for the development of great power stations in Russia to serve whole provinces with light, with transport, and with power. Two experimental districts, he said, had already been electrified. Can one imagine a more courageous project in a vast flat land of forests and illiterate peasants, with no water power, with no technical skill available, and with trade and industry at the last gasp ? Projects for such electrification are in process of development in Holland and they have been discussed in England, and in those densely-populated and highly-developed centres one can imagine them as successful, economical, and altogether beneficial. But their application in Russia is an altogether greater strain upon the constructive imagination. I cannot see anything of the sort happening in this dark crystal of Russia, but-this little man at the Kremlin can. ...”
And the little man was fight. And Wells was wrong. Lenin knew what were the issues at stake.
“Without a plan of electrification we cannot tackle the work of actual construction. We need this programme as the first rough draft, to be placed before the whole of Russia, of an economic plan, calculated ahead for at least ten years and showing the way now to give Russia in actual fact the economic basis that is required-by Communism. . . . Communism is Soviet government plus the electrification of the whole country. Otherwise the country will remain a country of small peasant economy and it is up to us to realize this quite clearly.”
Whilst these words were being spoken at the Eighth All-Russia Congress, bullets were still singing over the banks of the Dnieper; the Kichkas bridge was blown into fragments, and a German army of occupation had entered Kiev.
At this very moment, and as if heedless of their peril, the engineer, Krzhizhanosky, mounted the rostrum of the Great Theatre in Moscow and announced the most fantastic plans.
Twenty electric stations worked by steam with a capacity of over 1 million kilowatts; ten water-power stations, with a capacity of over 640,000 kilowatts, were to be erected in a country where even oil-lighting was still a rarity.
This man was gravely proposing a plan for covering with a network of cables a primitive land in the early childhood of its industrialism, with no material resources, and in the throes of civil war. Ironic foreign journalists dubbed his speech as “electrofiction”.
Stalin, in March 1921, wrote to Lenin as follows concerning the electricity plan :
“ I move:
1. That not a single minute more be wasted on talking about the plan.
2. That a practical start be made.
3. That at least one third ... of all we do be subordinated to the interests of this start.”
A start was made on the Dnieper. Soviet theodolites replaced German guns. The Plan began. The possibilities grew as it proceeded. The original horse-power anticipated was 350,000. Subsequently 810,000 was found possible.
Rocks were blasted; rails cut through the hills; a steel army of cranes, excavators, locomotives and drills attacked, conquered, and harnessed this mass of water moving at a speed of 3,000 cubic metres a second. Peasants, young and old, threw themselves behind the task. Rocks were blasted. Vast holes excavated. Concrete poured down in streams. Mr. Thomson, the American specialist, reports:
“I have seen concrete laid in different parts of the world and it is not the first time I have had to see an avalanche of concrete, but what is significant is that the avalanche continues to descend with the same force and all to a man are inspired with energy and drawn into the impetuous advance.”
Dnieprostroy created a new world record in speed of concrete laying.
By 5.20 p.m. on March 28th, 1932, the last bucket of concrete had been sunk and the dam was completed before scheduled time. Rocks, rapids, banks were slowly submerged. Ninety-five kilometres of turbulent rapids became a navigable stream. The river was vanquished and the waters rose to the height of a six-storied building and spread out as a vast lake, smooth and far. Great steamers, lifted through giant locks, travelled from the sea through deep and quiet waters to the upper river and far out into the heart of the Steppes.
The turmoil is now hidden out of sight. The water from the deep and peaceful basin is sucked into the pipes of nine turbines which lie like monstrous fossil snails buried in the concrete. Masses of water rush through a circular corridor seven yards in diameter and drive against the vanes of the turbine to generate a power nearly double that of the plant at the Niagara Falls. A miraculous thing has happened. The turbulence of the cataracts passes invisibly and silently through wires overhead to lift burdens from human shoulders and meet a thousand human needs.
When he bade good-bye to Wells, Lenin had said: “Come again to Russia in ten years’ time and see what we shall have done in the meantime.” That was in 1920. In 1932 the largest electric giant in Europe had been erected in the land of the “moujiks” and “economic chaos”.
Fifteen years later the plan was already fulfilled by 150 per cent. Pylons and cables become familiar features of Soviet landscapes. Travel to the far north and you will find a hydro-electric station in the Kola peninsula where the thermometer falls 40 degrees below zero and the frozen ground blunts the finest steel. Another station plants itself still farther north on the shores of the Arctic sea.
Travel again to the extreme south, to the sultry steppes of Kazakstan or to the lonely hills and valleys of Tadjikistan, where floating wicks in bowls of oil served primitive hovels for light and where work ceased at sunset. Now electric lamps sparkle and glow in cottages and hamlets and village streets. Electricity skips the stage of the kerosene lamp, and in amply lighted rooms children study books and families enjoy the amenities of civilized life.
Electricity has its romance and gives rein to the engineer’s imagination. In Armenia, the land of ancient culture and modern torture, where Ararat raises its summit to the skies, and where foaming streams roar down the mountain chasms, lies, high above the valleys, the great lake of Sevan. It stands two kilometres above sea level, and its deep waters, stretching out over an area of 1,500 square kilometres, are fed by twenty-seven small rivers. In the hot and sultry air millions of gallons of water evaporate and are lost. Millions more run down the Zanga River unutilized, whilst possible copper-works, rubber-works, cotton-mills, silk-mills, quarries only await the power to drive them, and fields capable of rich crops only await water for their irrigation.
Lenin, in a letter to the Communists of Transcaucasia, in April 1921, pointed out that it was necessary “to begin large works for electrification and irrigation”. By 1936 the power-stations of Armenia were producing 141 million kilowatt-hours of energy a year. Lake Sevan had been harnessed; and harnessed in a way so skilful and imaginative that as industries grow the power to drive them will grow proportionately. The water, in its fall of 1,000 metres, is intercepted stage by stage and forced to turn the turbines which supply the needed power. The waste waters spread out through a network of irrigation canals amongst vineyards, orchards, and cotton-fields.
The future need of expanding industries is met by a cunning calculation. A tunnel penetrates the mountain, and with the River Zanga helps to draw and utilize larger quantities of water from the lake, whose level lowers year by year. In fifty years time the level of the lake will have fallen 50 metres. And yet the available power will increase. For evaporation will decrease. A larger percentage of the water of the twenty-seven tributary rivers will be available for use.
No tales of persecution and poverty come now from the land “of the Armenian atrocities”. The era to which William Ewart Gladstone looked forward has arrived miraculously. Armenia is free and advances. Armenia grows her own cotton, works it in her own textile mills, driven with her own power; produces 15 million cans of fruit a year from her own orchards, and electrically operates cheese production in her own alpine factories.
When E. Abramyan wrote : “I lost my parents during the imperialist war and was left an uncared-for orphan. There were over 50,000 such waifs in Armenia before the Soviet power was established. The Soviet power became a mother to us, sheltered us from our earliest years, cared for us and gave us an education,” she told the story of the new life in Armenia to which their own Lake Sevan is made to minister.
But it is mainly on her rivers that- the Soviet Union must depend for the power her industries demand. Russia’s rivers, amongst the largest in the world, drove, in Tsarist days, the grindstones of a village mill. Today they drive vast power-plants. The combined capacity of all the Tsarist hydro-electric stations was less than one-sixth of the capacity of a single turbine in the Dnieper station.
The contemplated river projects are simply gigantic, far surpassing any schemes attempted or dreamed of in other lands.
The Volga project fills the public eye at the moment. The largest river in Europe is to be, in its entirety, harnessed and tamed. Huge dams will block the Volga and its tributaries, deepening the channels and driving eight hydro-electric stations on the Volga River, six on the Kama, the tributary river which drains the western Urals and enters the Volga at Kazan, three on the Oka River, and three more on the canal which is to join the Volga with the Don and enable ships from Moscow to pass through the Black Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.
Two stations, at Uglich and Rybinsk, northwards of Moscow, are now near completion, and the Ivankovo station is already complete. Construction on the Kuibyshev station, destined to be the largest in the world, has started and proceeds.
When the whole scheme is completed, floods and droughts will be conquered; virgin and desert lands will burst with fertile crops; ocean steamers will rise from level to level through gigantic concrete locks and pass amongst new cotton-fields along a mighty inland waterway, linked up with rail, sea, and river transport lines.
Still more grandiose schemes propose to utilize the rivers and lakes of Eastern Siberia, where the Angara, the Yenisei, and other huge rivers flow from high altitudes down rocky beds. Engineers talk now in terms of 100,000 million kilowatt-hours as available.
Socialist organization has had great advantages in electrification. It chooses the best sites. It fears no property rights. It concentrates capital investments on gigantic power-stations, with all the economies that this implies. It creates great linked-up systems: the Moscow system, for instance, even now, and taken by itself, apart from all the other systems, with which it will one day be linked, holds first place in Europe for power generated, and shares with New York the first place in the world for heat and power production.
Civilized living makes big demands on metals. A well-fitted house claims large quantities of iron, steel, copper, and a long list of other metals. There are the iron ranges or gas-cookers in kitchens, and fire-bars in parlours. There are iron shovels, buckets, saucepans, vacuum cleaners, pianos, and sewing-machines. Indirectly the demand is greater: the clothes we wear are woven on steel looms driven by steel engines and transported by steel locomotives travelling on steel rails. Add all the homes together and you get the measure of demand for metals.
The amount of metal a country produces is a good gauge to its civilized usages. If Tsarist Russia consumed a minute quantity of steel, and produced still less, we can safely conclude that the homes of her 160 million subjects were less civilized, as was indeed the fact.
Considering the immense size of its territory, the iron and steel industry of Tsarist Russia was absurdly small. How small in relation to today’s production may be seen by the face that all but 3½ per cent, of Soviet iron and steel comes from new or completely reconstructed mills.
Furthermore, the industry was concentrated in one or two localities instead of spreading out widely and healthily. Russia depended mainly on the blast-furnaces of the south. The Donbas and Dnieper districts provided nearly three-quarters of Russia’s pig iron. What if the Donbas had been seized by Britain or Germany?
The other centre in the Ural Mountains which accounted for the remaining quarter of Russian pig iron had in ancient days supplied the greater part of Europe with metals: its iron industry still persisted, but with the technique of the eighteenth century. The atmosphere was feudal. The forges were toys. The capitalist Donbas industry had left the feudal Urals high and dry. And yet even the capitalist Tsarist Donbas lingered so far behind Soviet achievement that three of the largest works of today produce more pig-iron than all the eighty-seven furnaces of Tsarist Russia.
This dangerous concentration of industry was in no sense due to lack of raw material in other localities.
Soviet geologists have quickly discovered and mapped fresh sources of supplies, and prepared the way for the thrilling story of re-mapping industry and population.
In The Times Atlas, in obscure print, you may find the place-name Magnitnaya (Magnet Mountain), lying 617 metres above sea level and in the extreme south of the Ural Mountains. On the right bank of the small river which skirted the mountain lay the Cossack village of Magnitnaya.
In 1929, wind-swept, flowery meadows lay beyond the village. Herds of cattle browsed up the slope of the Atach Mountain. Today one of the world’s supreme steel centres hums and roars where the cattle grazed. The Atach Mountain was one vast lump of iron ore, containing 63 per cent, of iron, and weighing 300 million tons. The Magnet Mountain gives it its appropriate name of Magnitogorsk.
An area of 54 square kilometres was selected for the site of Magnitogorsk. Five square kilometres were for the metallurgical plant.
Workers of thirty-five nationalities assembled and built barracks for workers, a settlement for foreign specialists, co-operative stores, restaurants, hospitals, nurseries, clubs, and a theatre. A ferro-concrete dam was thrown across the little river, and a lake of 13½ square kilometres was formed. The work was done in winter with slightly heated concrete, the first experiment of its kind-in the world.
Aerodromes were built, railways cut, roads laid: tractors, trucks, automobiles jostled with caravans of horses and camels on the new highways. Centuries were telescoped into months.
Sixty thousand workers settled, built two electric stations, a brick-yard, a saw-mill, a wood-factory, a forge and a machine-shop. The attack upon the mountain began. Ledges 30 feet high were cut in it to get the ore.
Enormous structures arose: the housing of huge ore-crushers ; vast walls of the power-plant; batteries of coke-ovens and blast-furnaces towering to the height of 130 feet.
The blast-furnaces of Magnitogorsk form the most powerful battery in the world. The open-hearth furnaces are the largest in the world.
Chemical works spring up to utilize the chemical by-products of the coke-ovens: benzol, ammonia, coal-tar, and fertilizers.
The city itself is planned with care: Soviet factories turn out men as well as steel: seventeen great blocks of buildings, each with its own department store, school, restaurants, and creches; each apartment in the blocks of flats with its own bath, running water, electric light, gas, and central heating.
By 1934 the mills turned out about 10 million tons of cast iron. By 1937 this had grown to 14½ million tons. Steel increased from 9½ to upwards of 17½ million tons, and rolled metal from 9 to 13 million tons.
And now for another large-scale, large-visioned undertaking.
Like two great bastions of industrial power in the central areas of the Soviet Union stand the iron-ore mines of these Ural Mountains and the coal regions of Kuznetz, lying far to the east. Two thousand kilometres separate them. Yet their interests are mutual. The Magnet Mountain provides the best ore, Kuznetz the best cocking coal. So Kuznetz coal travels to Magnitogorsk, and Magnitogorsk ore to Kuznetz, with blast-furnaces at either end. The trucks are always full, and each works supplies the other’s need.
The united output is enormous. Even in 1936 the two mills together produced one and a half times as much pig iron as Japan, and each becomes the centre of a virile population.
A new industrial world has been born in the central regions around coal and iron ore. The old world of the Donbas has been reborn. New blast- and open-hearth furnaces replace the outdated, outworn furnaces of Tsarist days. The iron ore at Krivoi Rog in the Ukraine and the coal in the Donbas station are linked together as were Magnitogorsk and ‘Kuznetz, with a smelting-works at each end; the trucks travelling between the two always working to capacity.
And yet another new world is planned, with a further redistribution of industry. An iron and steel base is to be established in the Far East, with a complete metallurgical cycle of production, which will meet all the needs of a local machine-building industry. The eastern districts are to yield from 28 to 35 per cent, of the country’s total production.
By 1942 the output of pig iron is to be half as much again as that of 1937; steel 56 per cent, more; rolled metal 62 per cent, more, and of high-grade rolled metal nearly twice as much.
Form a picture of what this means. Steel, for example, is to increase by 56 per cent. Each i per cent, of increase in rolled steel would produce heavy rails for nearly 500 miles of railroad. The increase of rolled steel of 1942 over 1937 would provide steel rails that would more than circle the globe at the Equator.
I have spoken only of iron and steel. Of other metals the same holds good. The Pribalkhashsky combine is planned to turn the copper resources of Kazakstan, which spread far and wide over the southern central regions of the U.S.S.R., into one of the largest copper industries in the world, whilst aluminium works are erected on the Dnieper, near Leningrad, in the Urals, and in far northern Karelia.
Let the closing word be of gold. Gold still has value other than intrinsic for the Soviet Union, for gold is a means of exchange with other countries who value it. So gold is useful, and the U.S.S.R. abounds in gold.
Gold, in the capitalist world, has a sinister history. Sinister in the getting. Sinister in subsequent manipulation. When the gold city of Johannesburg was established, the natives refused to work underground until the hut-tax and other payments which could only be made in money compelled them to do so. Mr. John Hodgson, the distinguished engineer, in an article in the New Statesman in 1916, showed that for every 6o-lb. bar of gold produced from the death-dealing quartz dust at Johannesburg one native died and five others were ruined for life by accident or disease. Mr. Hodgson’s article caused the Minister of Mines to take action and saved the lives of 300,000 natives.
Higher wages were paid to entice the natives to stay longer. But higher wages worked differently with natives than with white men; they the quicker bought their liberty. So betting was introduced and debts were incurred, and a docile and permanent labour force became available.
Mr. Hodgson has much to say of the gold mines of Tsarist Russia, where, on April I7th, 1912, a peaceful and unarmed procession of strikers at the Lena gold-fields — then being exploited by an English company formed in 1908 — was scattered by soldiers’ bullets. One hundred and nineteen persons were killed. The general cause of the strike was long hours with low and delayed pay. The immediate cause was the serving out of a horse’s sexual organs in the food. The further general strike which the Lena massacre involved caused a government inquiry which elicited these horrible facts.
If the production of gold has slain its thousands, the manipulation of gold has slain its tens of thousands, or, to be more correct, its tens of millions. Those who hold the gold, and on the basis of that holding erect a pyramid of interest-bearing obligations, and then a mountain of inextinguishable debt; those who create or destroy the money of the people by a stroke of the pen, hold the livelihood of the peoples and the life of industry in the hollow of their hand.
In vivid contrast is the production of gold and its use in the Soviet Union.
Gold is mined all over the Soviet Union. Old flooded mines are “restored and new deposits discovered. In the remote taiga of the north, in the steppes of Kazakstan, in the mountain regions of the Pamirs, in the valleys of the northern Caucasus, and in the foothills of the Urals or the Altai Mountains, gold is found, and the gold-bearing regions are as large as the combined areas of several European countries. In output the Soviet Union occupies second place in world production.
Gold prospecting in the U.S.S.R. employs new methods and new equipment. Search-parties, armed with Empire drills, Krelins drills, Keystone drills, or Sullivan drills, invade the remotest parts of the Soviet Union all the year round, and send the samples of ore they find for precise analysis with sensitive instruments by qualified scientists at the gold research institutes. Eighty per cent, instead of 5 per cent, of production is now extracted mechanically, one method being the hydraulic gun, by which earth is removed by a jet of water under terrific pressure.
When a new field is discovered, roads, railways, and air routes replace the camels and the reindeer and the-primitive track, and link up the field with the central world of the Union. Electrically driven and steam-driven machinery, often of immense size, aid the workers, who are organized on socialist principles. The experience of the old diggers aids the younger men, and the conditions in which both live differ totally from the conditions in the Lena gold-fields. The old dug-outs and wooden huts are replaced by decent houses. Well-equipped shops and restaurants have been opened, schools built and newspapers published. One hundred and seven thousand pupils attend 576 schools in the gold-fields of the Soviet Union. The life of the child of the gold-digger is a primary care.
Better even than the methods of gold extraction is the Soviet method of employing gold when mined.
It might at first sight seem odd that the Soviet Government should seek so eagerly to dig out of the ground the shiny yellow metal which has been used so long to enslave mankind. But we must remember that the Soviet Union is still surrounded by a capitalist world, and gold has value in that world in the struggle for economic independence. Gold procures the most modern machinery, equipment, and technical innovations. Gold means the strengthening of the defensive powers of the country. Gold is useful abroad.
But gold is used as money only for foreign purchases. Gold is not the basis of currency within the Union. The Soviet Union enjoys a managed currency, without any reference to foreign exchanges. The fluctuations in the aggregate amount of Soviet currency have no observable effect on prices of commodities or services: prices of commodities are fixed, just as gas or urban water is fixed in England, and cannot vary with the amount of currency in circulation. The amount of currency in circulation no more effects the price of goods than the number of postage stamps in existence effects the postage rates, or the number of letters dispatched.
Gold is useful to the U.S.S.R. so long as other lands employ it. Its internal use is confined to the filling of teeth, the construction of trinkets or for the technical purposes of industry.
Soviet Russia parts with its gold; it does not hoard it. In return it gets machinery and a thousand other valuable and useful articles. The gold it gives in exchange lies buried in the vaults of other lands. Its use as money is threatened. The day may be approaching when gold becomes worthless in all countries save for technical purposes. “We may yet live to see the day when gold falls to a tenth of its present value; the gold mines will be ruined — but we may have gold plates on our table!” Soviet Russia will in that case have the better part of the bargain and deserves it.
And in the present, with a reserve of gold probably greater than that of its three potential Fascist enemies combined, the Soviet Union has wisely placed itself in a strong position in the event of war.
This is a machine age. We become a machine-minded people. The housewife owns machines, and works machines: sewing-machines, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, wireless, gramophones, bicycles, and motor-cars. Machines add power to our hands and speed to our feet; machines lift burdens off our shoulders; free us from a thousand tasks. Machines, driven by solar power in any of its various forms, make poverty an anachronism. We starve amidst plenty, if we starve at all.
England suffers from no lack of machines, only from lack of common sense in their use. We are not mechanically backward, but economically backward. We have stuck fast at the economically stupid stage, where machines stand idle whilst we go hungry.
In England the machine is regarded by many as an enemy, and with some show of reason. New machines and new inventions throw thousands on the dole. In a glass factory one person makes 3,000 bottles an hour: formerly it took seventy-seven. The machine deprives seventy-six of employment. Men dread the advent of a new machine.
Tsarist Russia went back even a step behind that in fear, and dreaded the factory which made the machine. The Tsarist Government observed that machine factories in other lands had produced the revolutionary proletariat and the radical middle class. Consequently no encouragement was given to industrial development by Tsarist Russia: most machinery was imported. Even scythes, the universal agricultural implements of the pre-war age, were bought from Austria, though Russia possessed facilities for producing excellent steel.
The Soviet Union has no fear of the machine, and need have none. Naturally so. In a planned economy the more machines possessed the easier will be the work, the shorter the working day, the lighter and happier the lives of all. Possessing the power, the Soviet Union sought to construct as many machines as were needed to produce what goods it desired.
When the Dnieper River was conquered, power was delivered at the cost of one kilowatt-hour for a farthing: one kilowatt being approximately three days’ work of a strong man. That meant three days’ work for a farthing.
The Soviet people are eager to make and possess machines which will utilize this cheap and abundant power and render it serviceable in an infinite variety of ways: machines that sew boots, machines that weave clothes, machines that churn butter, machines that make paper, machines that count; and those machines especially upon which all other machines depend, machines that make machines.
For the first essential obviously is the production of machines which make machines. If we have blacksmiths, locksmiths, and lathe-making shops; if we have drillers and grinders and polishers, and a few other skilled craftsmen, we can make any machine for any factory. Russia needed first of all machines to make machines, whether the machines were the sensitive ship’s chronometer or the giant excavator which, like an immense arm, 60 feet in length, provided with a huge scoop at the end of it, cuts its way into the ground with immense teeth of forged steel, grips a wagon-load of earth, lifts it bodily, swings it easily round, and drops it with a rush like a waterfall into the iron box of the waiting truck.
Tsarist Russia lacked tools to make tools and men with technical skill to work them. Tsarist Russia depended on foreign technicians and bought all her complicated machinery from Britain, Germany, or the U.S.A.
Tools to make tools, machines to make machines, were the first problem. These tools to make tools are as wonderful in their own way as the tools they make; a hundred times more agile, a hundred times more accurate, and a hundred times more powerful than the hands of any man. Tools with steel hands that can saw, chop, hammer, and shave all at once. Gutting tools that travel so quickly that the tool gets red hot and demands — and gets — specially tempered steel. Tools that work with such precision that the steam hammer which at one moment could crush a house will in the next drop so lightly as to touch your watch-glass on the anvil without breaking it.
The Soviet Union needed lathes, steam hammers, forges, presses, guillotines, saws, a vast variety of precision tools.
The Soviet Union was bound, therefore, if it hoped to survive at all, to create a machine-building industry, and to distribute that industry far and wide throughout the$ Union. To do this it must produce and train its own expert technical staff. That in itself was a colossal task and possessed many ramifications. It demanded the provision of schools, colleges, and technical institutes, manned by skilled teachers. It demanded the switch over to machine-mindedness of a people unacquainted even with the most elementary forms of machine construction. It demanded the development of discipline and emulation, and many other qualities of character.
The Soviet Union has achieved its colossal task in the brief space of one and twenty years, and today there is scarcely a single needed machine which it cannot produce at home. New branches of machine construction open daily.
Earliest and most pressing of the mechanical needs 01 the Union was that of a mechanized agricultural industry, and it is in the production of agricultural machinery that achievement is greatest and most dramatic. This least-mechanized sixth of the earth has sprung at a bound, as it were, into the foremost rank of mechanized lands. Soviet Russia produces more agricultural machinery than any country in the world, not even excluding the United States of America. The land which yesterday bought her scythes in Austria, today makes more agricultural tractors and combine harvesters than any country in the world.
Italy possesses 18,000 tractors, Germany 30,000. The Soviet people possess 558,600 tractors, and they are home-built and made to meet all needs. The Chelyabinsk factory produces 40,000 machines a year.
In production of combine harvesters, the Soviet Union leads the world, both in quantity and quality. One afternoon, in the Ukraine, I amused myself with inspecting dozens of discarded types, many of them of well-known and recent make, housed in a field called the “museum”. The Soviet Union’s home-made harvesters had put the world’s best specimens on the retired list.
The Molotov Auto-plant in Gorky produces more trucks than the combined auto-plants of England. It is the largest in the world. The Soviet Union incidentally already possesses more trucks than Japan, Italy, and Poland taken together.
One thousand and eighty locomotives leave the Voroshilovgrad factory a year: by 1942 the total output of main-line locomotives will be 2,090 a year. By the same date 400,000 automobiles a year will leave the auto-plants; and 90,000 two-axled freight-cars the railway-wagon shops.
Aeroplanes provided a test case for Soviet planning. No modern land dare ignore the aeroplane. Without aeroplanes an army is robbed of its eyes and a country of its vital nerves.
In a land so vast as the Soviet Union, with forests, steppes and ice-fields, with national republics and autonomous regions far removed from the centre of the Union, air communication is a matter of exceptional importance. Sakhalin island, cut off for several months by sea, and the Kara-Kum desert by sand, depend for news upon the aeroplane. Outlying areas need constant touch with the centre by up-to-date newspapers: engineers need up-to-date plans. The Soviet air service meets these needs and increases the sense of unity, so necessary amongst widely scattered peoples.
Pilot Chukhnovsky discovered and rescued the crew of the Italian dirigible “Italia”.
In an obscure corner of Karelia, where the thermometer drops 40 degrees below zero, the feet of a village teacher froze and gangrene set in. Death could only be avoided by an operation. No surgeon was accessible. But an aeroplane, sent from Leningrad, brought her to a surgeon in a day and saved her life.
A dangerous epidemic threatened a herd of deer at the mouth of the Yenesei, months away from civilized life by ordinary modes of travel. A brigade of aviators transported doctors with curatives and the epidemic was stayed.
Aeroplanes carry mails; aeroplanes discover seals in Arctic waters; aeroplanes collect pelts from inaccessible parts of Yakutsk; aeroplanes sow rice, detect forest fires, exterminate noxious insects, wage war on locusts, kill weeds, plant trees, disperse fogs.
The Soviet Union now makes its own aeroplanes; and makes them of excellent quality and in astonishing quantities. The polar flight in 1937 of 7,000 miles in two days and a quarter, from Moscow to the southern regions of the United States, speaks of quality. Let Commandant Schmettel, of the German Reich Ministry of Air, an authority unlikely to exaggerate, speak of the quantity.
In his “Air War Threatened Europe”, published in 1938, Commandant Schmettel states that the output of military planes by the Soviet Russian Aviation industry will reach the total figure of 12,000 or even 15,000 in 1940, and soon be able to produce from 12,000 to 15,000 planes a year. Its output in war-time, he adds, cannot be expressed in figures.
“Soviet planes, both in construction and performance, are up to American standards”, says Thomas Morgan, president of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation. “The institutions and shops for research and study are equal in quality and far surpass in size anything abroad . . . because they have the whole resources of the state at their disposal. Engineers and designers have an opportunity for experimental work that no private company could afford.”
A vast variety of aircraft suited to Russia’s varying conditions issue from Soviet shops. There are polar planes able to function in temperatures 40 degrees below zero; planes with retractable gears, able to alight on land, water, snow, or ice; “sky-trains” with a “locomotive” plane towing passenger or freight-laden gliders which can be uncoupled at their destination and glide down to earth whilst the “locomotive” proceeds. There are tiny planes called “sky fleas” and vast planes like the Maxim Gorky, which collided and crashed in 1935, only to be succeeded, if desired, by other monsters of a like or greater size.
Machine-building in the U.S.S.R. stands today first in Europe: its only rival in capacity and output is the U.S.A. Already the output stands twenty-three times higher than the pre-war level. And the rate of increase is still on the steep upward incline. By the end of the Third Five-Year Plan in 1942 the output will be 225 per cent, that of the 1937 level.
Thousands of new types of machines have already been mastered, and the up-to-date engineering works built during these years can now cope with the mass production of any type demanded by the national economy or for defensive purposes. In the year 1938 alone the machine-building industry was scheduled to start manufacturing 277 new types and sizes of machine tools, high-pressure turbines and boilers, improved generators, automobile motors, Diesel engines, cranes, cars, and agricultural machinery. By the year 1942 the assortment of tools is to increase by 800: the proportion of highly productive automatic and semi-automatic tools is to rise considerably.
The Soviet-machine-building industry eagerly scans the latest achievements of world technique. Students have ready access to the world’s scientific and technical journals. The role of the designer has been strengthened and experimental departments of every kind increased and equipped. Soviet engineers seek to supplement foreign advance with native initiative.
The peculiarities of the Soviet system naturally and spontaneously tend to rapid progress in machine design and construction. The technical problems of the next five years are clearly defined. It is known exactly what new machines will be required and in what quantities they will be produced. One design department will be responsible for a special machine or equipment. The actual amount of new design is reduced. Five-sixths of the work of technical staffs is wasted in the competitive tendering of capitalist countries. Mr. Arnold Tustin, formerly chief engineer in the electrical department of the Metro-Vickers plant in Sheffield, “a highly responsible and absorbing job,” as he describes it, and subsequently senior engineer of the technical bureau on traction motors at the Kirov Dynamo Plant, puts this point clearly, and the point itself is so important that we will quote his own words :
“For an engineer, a maker of machines, work in a Soviet factory offers tremendous satisfaction. The commercial principle that holds sway in capitalist industry .very often forces engineers to .spend their energy, strength and knowledge for nothing. In England, for example, there are several factories turning out one and the same article. When an order comes, each factory tries to get it at all costs. The engineers employed at these factories all begin making new designs without knowing whether their firms will get the order or not. But only one firm is given the order. The designs of all the others remain unused.
“It is quite different in the Soviet Union. Here all tasks are linked up with the development of industry. This makes every engineer sure that the work he has done will be used. Here there is not a single valuable design that is not converted into material value. The system of economic planning enables the engineer to see the fruits of his creation. And this is the most precious thing of all for him.”
Old Russia was a land of vast distances and miserable communications. In famines millions perished in one part of the country whilst wheat rotted in another for lack of transport. During the World War armies stood defenceless whilst munitions clogged the junctions. The problem of transport and communications was multiplied a hundred-fold when the Soviets introduced the new era of intensive industrial production.
In the Soviet Union of today freight movement is immense. Rivers of iron, coal, cotton, lumber, and machines travel to feed the factories, from which in turn rivers of finished goods flow out to meet the needs of consumers.
Often these rivers of goods flow from, and to, long distances. They flow widest and strongest where the factories grow thickest — in Leningrad or Moscow, for instance. One broad stream will flow to these cities from the south, from the Donbas and the Ukraine.
Another from the east, from the Urals and Siberia. But it is much to be desired that other streams should flow from other points to other points. A stream of coal, for instance, from Kusnetz in the Altai Mountains should reach the Urals, where it is needed to smelt the Ural iron ore. Generally, in the past, this desire has been frustrated.
Streams of freight need channels for their flow. Without the channel the stream is dammed. Sometimes the channel is a river and the freight moves in boats. Sometimes it is a railway track, and sometimes a macadam road.’ When speed is important and the weight light, the air may prove the readiest channel.
Ship, wagon, truck, and aeroplane all serve this many-sided transport system, and as the stream of freight grows in volume the strain on the system increases and the flow is threatened. Congestion is dangerous. A stoppage would be fatal, akin to a block in the arteries or a paralysis in the nerves of the human body. The danger has been very real. The immense development of industry throws a huge strain on the Soviet transport system and necessitates from time to time drastic measures of improvement.
The Soviet Government had inherited a transport system inadequate, damaged, and lop-sided. Inadequate, because railway tracks were poor, locomotives primitive, roiling stock outdated and outworn, and rivers shallow and untended. Damaged, because war and intervention had led to years of neglect — 7,600 bridges had been blown up and 100,000 miles of telegraph wire torn down. Lopsided, because the railway system turned inwards towards Moscow and Leningrad, or outwards mainly towards the west and the Baltic and Black Sea ports, leaving cross communications between other regions almost wholly unsupplied.
Tsarist railways reveal Tsarist policy. A network of lines converged on Moscow and Leningrad that they might draw to these centres the wealth of Russia’s colonies. The comparative abundance of lines to the west, planned primarily with a view to war, were bleeding the Russian empire of raw materials to the enrichment of Russian merchants and otherwise to the benefit, not of the Russian people, but solely of industrial Europe.
Links between district and district, between east and west, between colony and colony, or people and people were few and far between. European Russia possessed 11.3 kilometres of railway for every 1,000 square kilometres of land, Asiatic Russia 0.6 kilometre. The Soviet Union planned a radical change, and if in the earlier years the change in the transport map has been slower than in either of the other maps, the work actually done has been great, and the speed quickened as soon as L. M. Kaganovitch, builder of the Moscow subway, was appointed People’s Commissar of Railways. In two years the 50,000 daily car-loadings were almost doubled.
All are familiar with the Trans-Siberian railway, rolling on and on for 6,000 miles over level steppes and mountain passes: the longest railway system in the world. Day after day, with a terrible monotony, the steppes sweep past the carriage windows. Occasionally the line rises, and then hills merge into mountains where torrents roar and dark forests blot out the brilliant sunlight. Six thousand miles from east to west the Trans-Siberian railway carries man and freight. The new demands for transport found the old system utterly inadequate; its single line of rails, its needless curves and summits, and its antiquated rolling stock dammed Up the stream of freight and threatened imminent disaster.
That single track, however, is how a double track. Light rails and bridges are replaced with heavier ones. Sleepers have been increased in number, chemically treated, and strongly ballasted. Curves have been straightened out, gradients removed; high-powered locomotives with ten driving-wheels draw long trains of giant bogie-trucks. Special locomotives, suitable for long runs through arid deserts, condense the steam into water and re-use it, ridding the train of a water tender. The drawn load has been increased by 50 per cent., and the speed by 20 per cent, to 30 per cent. The latest model of express locomotive is said to be capable of a speed of 180 kilometres an hour. Siberia has moved nearer in time to Moscow, and the cost of freight has dropped from a penny per ton-mile to less than half a farthing.
New railways give value to many things that were worthless before. A pine log has no value in the heart of a forest- hundreds of miles from means of transport. It receives value instantly when a railroad approaches, and greater value still when hauled to a saw-mill and cut into planks.
Turkestan employed only a portion of her priceless irrigated lands for cotton culture, though Leningrad, Moscow, and Ivanovo were dangerously dependent upon cotton from America and- Egypt. The reason was simple. Turkestan needed food and devoted valuable cotton lands to the growth of grain. Yet Soviet Siberia had grain enough and to spare. So a railway was cut for 900 miles over mountain ridges and across illimitable deserts and steppes. On April 28th, 1930, the Turkestan-Siberian railway was finished, seventeen months ahead of schedule time.
Similarly Magnitogorsk is now knit by a railroad to Karlaly; Karaganda to Lake Balkash; the Ukraine to the Volga regions; the Urals to the central areas via Kirov, Kazan, and Kuibyshev. The new line from Guriev to Kandagach on the Orenburg-Tashkent route serves the important oil-bearing localities of the Emba area.
The Third Five-Year Plan lies before us, projecting a freightage increase from 355 milliard ton kilometres in 1937 to 510 milliard in 1942, an increase of 44 per cent.
Since, however, the gross output of industry is to increase by 82 per cent., it would appear that the pressure on the railways is bound to continue and to increase. The difficulty is to be met. Eleven thousand kilometres of new permanent way are to be provided; 8,000 kilometres double-tracked; existing tracks and stocks used more intensively, with addition of 7,370 new and high-powered locomotives, 178,000 new four-axled freight-cars and 12,000 new passenger-coaches. A gondola-type truck of 100 tons, able to unload in one minute by a special car dumper, is on the drawing-boards.
Wasteful transit must cease. Various long hauls must be avoided. Local coal — such, for example, as that near Moscow—will be and is being mined and consumed locally; Siberian timber will not enter Soviet Europe if its importation can be avoided. Experiments are made with totally new methods of rail transit: the “aerotrain”, for example, consisting of two zeppelin-shaped cars suspended from a single-rail track, and the “sphere train” with its stream-lined cars running on huge motorized ball-bearings in a grooved track. But these are things of the future
Road and motor vehicle supplement rail and locomotive. Tsarist Russia had 1,900,000 miles of railless roads. Interminable crazy ways through vast spaces. Stretched end to end, these roadways would reach an eighth of the way to the moon, and save for 6,250 miles of paved macadamized highways, the rest, with their ruts, holes, pits, and rickety bridges, scarcely sufficed for the peasant cart and were useless for motor vehicles. “The real curse of the land,” says Grinko, “is its roads”. The chief reason is the scarcity of stone. The peasant said, “Why worry? The roads will be hard in winter time.” The heavy frosts make rivers and streams like macadamized boulevards. But what of the summer time and the mud and dust ? The old roads no longer meet Soviet needs. The First Five-Year Plan, therefore, called for 22,500 miles of newly macadamized and modernized highways, with orders to each town and village to repair and maintain its local ways. The roads were overhauled. The age of the motor-car had come.
The Third Five-Year Plan provides for 128,000 miles of new road, and an increase of motor-cars from 570,000 to 1,700,000.
Two million chauffeurs are to receive their training. The deserts, with their endlessly shifting sands, are to be provided with half-track motor-cars, run on two rubber tracks, laid down, like caterpillars, by rollers. These swift “mechanized camels” will replace the old slow caravans of the deserts and the reindeer and dog teams of the Arctic regions.
A network of air lines links the far-distant places of the Soviet Union with the centre. Many of these lines, such as that from Moscow to Tiflis, Tashkent, and Alma-Ata, are 3,000 miles long. The line from Minsk to Kamchatka, via Vladivostok, is 8,000 miles, twice as far as from London to Bombay.
Regular air services are established between Moscow’ and Berlin, Paris, Stockholm, Iran.
Transport by water is cheaper than transport by rail or road, and will relieve the pressure upon both. Soviet rivers are immense, capable of carrying vast loads of freightage.
Of the nine largest rivers in the world, four are in Siberia. The steamer route on the Irtish and the Ob is longer than that from Liverpool to New York. Yet commercially these rivers cannot compare with the Volga. The Volga can do the work of six railways placed by its side. With its thousand tributary rivers, the Volga forms one of the greatest water-systems in the world. The Volga and other rivers in European Russia have been, or are to be, united by canals, and river-transport lines are to be lengthened, reconstructed, and improved. Later they will doubtless be joined up with the Siberian river-system.
The Dnieper, as we have already seen, is navigable from mouth to headwaters, thanks to the new Dnieper power-station and locks. The projected Volga scheme is to be vaster still, and when completed the Soviet Union will possess a water highway unrivalled in the whole world, linking the Black and Caspian Seas with the Baltic and the Arctic by deep-water rivers and canals, and bringing goods by water from all the world to Moscow. Lumber and grain will go south to the Black Sea, and coal north from the Don to the Volga factories. The northward-moving stream of coal will narrow as the factories along the way are fed. The grain-stream and the lumber-stream moving south will broaden out as the farms and saw-mills along the route are tapped.
To complete this huge undertaking will require, beside the deepening of the Volga itself, the construction of a canal 60 miles long and over 200 feet wide linking Volga and Don.
At present the Volga transports some 30 million tons of goods a year —approximately half the total tonnage transported on Soviet rivers. It is calculated that in five years’ time, when the Volga schemes are under way, this figure will be doubled, and in ten years’ time quadrupled.
An important section of the scheme, as described in the preceding chapter, is the erection of two power-stations in the region of Kuibyshev, with a combined capacity of 3,400,000 kilowatt-hours. This has already been commenced. It will solve irrigation problems in a vast, drought-stricken area and increase navigation facilities on the Volga and its tributary, the Kama River. Rightly, it is described as the largest engineering project in the world.
Yet another huge water-way, already completed, connects the Baltic and the Arctic, running by means of a chain of locks over the hilly watershed between these seas. It is a water-way of great significance in view of the growing importance of the all-winter port of Murmansk, which gives the Soviet Union direct access at all times of the year to the Atlantic routes.
Its building was an immense undertaking: 21 million cubic metres of soil were excavated; 2½ million metres of rock torn out by dynamite explosions. Two million eight hundred thousand logs from Karelian forests were used for construction of spill-ways and dams, and the wooden-walled locks, by which the ships were raised from height to height across the uplands which separate two seas.
Mighty dams sprang up where forests stood. In one place a dam, several miles long, has trapped a stretch of water twice the size of Lake Geneva, which in its controlled fall feeds the locks and drives the turbines of five power-stations, producing energy for timber, chemical, and mining industries.
On May 19th, 1933, a continuous ribbon of water stretched from the Baltic Sea to the White Sea and gave an exit to the Arctic Ocean. It is no longer necessary to sail around Norway, Sweden, and Karelia on the journey from Leningrad to Archangel. The stormy 17-day voyage through the North Sea is shortened to six days through the quiet forests and fenlands of Karelia.
“Man — how proud it sounds,” said Gorky as he stood upon the platform on the opening day.
“The canal is ready. Start on another canal!” and the workers went, and began construction on the Moscow-Volga canal, which is now completed. Coal and grain, fish and oil from the south, timber and stone from the north, reach the capital by water and relieve the rails. The Panama canal took twelve years in the building: Soviet engineers, with modern machinery, cut the Moscow-Volga canal, involving almost the same amount of excavation and concrete, in five years — less than half the time. Moscow now enjoys the advantages of a deep port and a noble expanse of lake. A pure water supply is provided for each citizen, of 600 litres daily, against New York’s 484 litres. Already the Stalin water-works, the greatest in Europe, supplies 615 million of litres of water a day, soon to be increased to 738 million litres.
Within a few years Moscow port, in the heart of European Russia, will be linked directly with Baltic, Black, Azov, Caspian, and White Seas. The vastness of its conception, and the speed with which this plan is being carried out, are the measure of the Soviet man. By 1940, 80,000 miles of water-ways will be navigable for deep-draught vessels: “The blast of their syrens will be heard in the heart of the Soviet capital as they set forth to the principal cities of the Soviet Union, to the five Russian seas and the oceans beyond.”
Food, clothing, housing, and the provision of material things necessary to live an ample, cultivated and civilized life are the objects of industry. Industry is a means to an end, not an end in itself, and must be judged by its ability to produce in the necessary quantities and of the necessary quality the things we use and the things we eat.
The list of such things knows no end; from the food industry, bread, meat, fish, butter, eggs, sugar, fruit, vegetables, wine, tinned goods, and the like. From light industry, woollens, linens, silks, knitted articles, shoes, and leather goods; men’s wear and women’s wear, furs, soaps, tobacco, timber, and glass; toys and gramophones and thousands of similar articles.
Food industry in the strict sense was non-existent in the old Russia. The backwardness of the country, the scarcity of large towns and proletarian centres, the low standard of living of the urban lower middle classes, and the self-sufficing system of economy that prevailed so largely in rural areas, made no demand for large food enterprise. Small scale and domestic production of food articles sufficed. The rich had their own means of supply without the medium of great industry.
When, however, a whole people advanced to a new order of life, there arose a wholly new demand for mass production of foodstuffs. This had been clearly seen and clearly stated from the first. Stalin put it neatly when he said: “Socialism can succeed only on the basis of a high productivity of labour, higher than under capitalism, on the basis of an abundance of products and of articles of consumption of all kinds, on the basis of a prosperous and cultured life for all members of society.”
This demand of necessity involved a series of highly developed food industries, and the two Five-Year Plans met the need with much success. The People’s Commissariat of Food Industry has built 1,000 new plants; 256 bread factories, 197 mechanical bakeries, 70 milk factories, 82 creameries, 28 tea factories, 14 oil-pressing mills, and others too numerous to specify.
Food plants demand foodstuffs, and the basic raw materials they need are now available in abundance, supplied by hundreds of thousands of collective and State farms: collective live-stock and dairy-farms in Siberia, collective fisheries in the Far East, collective and State tea-plantations in Georgia, market-gardens in the Volga region, and sugar-beet plantations in the Ukraine.
First and foremost was the need for grain. From lack of grain, through prolonged drought or other causes, Russia has suffered from repeated famines. In 1937 a grain crop of 7,300 million poods was harvested. The harvest for a five-year period before the War had averaged little more than 4,000 million poods. The Third Five-Year Plan provides for an increase of 27 per cent. That means that at the end of 1942 the Soviet Union should be harvesting about 8,000 million poods of grain. The word famine has lost its sting. There will be no more famine in the Soviet Union. No future war will be lost through lack of food.
The factories which today turn grain into bread or confectionery recall, by way of contrast, Maxim Gorky’s description of a pre-war baker’s life in his tale “Twenty-six Men and a Girl” : “Day after day in a flour laden atmosphere, amidst the filth brought in from the courtyard on our boots, in the stifling redolent heat, we kneaded the dough and turned it into pretzels, moistening them with the sweat”. Bread today is made in bright, sunlit halls, and never touched by human hands, made by workers with a seven-hour day, who take a shower before work begins and are regularly manicured. No longer will another Sholem Aleichem describe the women quarrelling at Jonah’s bakery, exposing how one had accidentally rolled a soiled bandage from an injured finger into the dough, and another had lain for a nap with a piece of dough for a pillow.
Sugar figures show an increase as great as wheat. The retail trade in 1936 was 329,000 tons; in 1937, 467,500 tons, in 1938, 580,000 tons. In the Third Five-Year-Plan the sugar-beet harvest is to show a further increase of 37.2 per cent.
Retail trade figures reveal similar increases in other foodstuffs. Between the years 1933 and 1937 sales in butter advanced by 260 per cent., in eggs 510 per cent., in sausages 730 per cent.; years, of course, when plenty was pursuing famine, but these increases are far from ceasing, and the Third Five-Year Plan provides for marked advances.
The Soviet Union grows its own tea and bottles its own wines. Georgia produced 35,000 tons of tea-leaf in 1938. Until recently the Soviet Union was producing 160,000 bottles of champagne a year : France produces 50 million bottles. The Soviet’s output is to be increased by 1939 to 3 million.
Tsarist Russian peasants went barefoot or they bound their feet in straw and rags. In Tsarist Russia only a small percentage of the population wore leather boots or shoes — the total annual production prior to the War amounted to about 20 million pairs. The Soviets planned at least one pair a year for each citizen. That means at the moment 170 million pairs a year. The estimate for 1942 is 235 million pairs, an increase over 1937 of 143 per cent.
It is sometimes said that a ‘country’s civilization is measured by the soap its people use. The sale of soap in ‘the Soviet Union has increased many dozenfold since 1913. In 1936 the rural population purchased eight times more soap and perfumery than in 1928 Significant increases are projected for the next Five-Year Plan.
Tobacco is in demand in Russia as in other lands. The supply was short so long as tobacco was imported. Today the Soviet Union produces its own tobacco, the collective farms of Abkhazia grow leaf equal to the finest Turkish brands, and Soviet cigars, an innovation, rapidly find favour. Variety of brands is large and increases. Professor Hanson remarked, as we stood in a tobacco shop in the Crimea, whereas two years previously he had counted a dozen varieties, today he observed a dozen times as many in that one shop alone. In 1937 the Soviet factories turned out 89,000 million cigarettes. The Soviet Union stands second in the world amongst tobacco-producing lands.
Provision for an increase in the consumption of goods from one and a half to two times is the task of the Third Five-Year Plan. Provision is made for a parallel rise in real wages to make increased consumption saleable.
During the Second Five-Year Plan the total consumption by the people of the Soviet Union had increased more than twofold, during which period prices fell and wages rose.
Certain years of that period, whilst emerging from the dangerous days of agricultural crisis, saw many dramatic rises. Falling prices, rising wages, and increased social amenities are the causes of a real advance in the standard of living and the consumption of goods.
(1) A table lies before me showing some of the products which, during the three years from January 1st, 1934, to January 1st, 1937, suffered steady and consistent drop in price. Bread fell more than half; butter the same; eggs dropped nearly three-quarters; meat was down to 63.3 per cent., and lump sugar to 27.3 per cent, of 1934 prices.
During the same period, it is instructive to note, prices in Germany showed a corresponding and sinister rise: potatoes from 6 pfennigs per kilogram to 9; butter from 275 to 312 ; beef from 135 to 169; eggs from 10 pfennigs to 12 pfennigs apiece.
(2) A rise of wages accompanied the fall in prices. Wages of postmen, office workers, teachers, students, industrial operatives, all rose. Wage rises occurred right along the scale. The average annual wages of workers in general more than doubled during the Second Five-Year Plan. If 100 represents’ the wages received in 1929, wages rose in 1933 to 196.4 and in 1937 to 371.4.
(3) An increase in available social services is the third factor that contributes to the rising standard of life. The 1938 budget was to increase maternity benefits from the 785,600,000 rubles of 1937 to 991,500,000 rubles. The number of factory and office workers to be accommodated in rest-homes and sanatoriums was to be increased by 348,000 over the figures of 1937, with similar increase in pioneer camps and the number of children attending them. The Third Five-Year Plan schedules the following tasks for development of social services in the years 1937 to 1942: To raise State expenditures on cultural and everyday needs of working people in cities and villages, i.e. expenditure on social insurance and State outlay for education, health protection, aid to mothers of large families, and every-day services to workers and office employees to 53,000 million rubles, as against 30,800 million rubles of 1937.
Hospital beds will increase by 30 per cent. In the Uzbek, Tadjik, Kazakh, and Kirghizian republics the increase will be twofold; in the Armenian republic threefold, and in the Turkmenian republic fivefold.
The rise in the national income is an excellent test of a rise in the general standard of life in a country with no great extremes, as in ours, of wealth and poverty. The rise in the national income in the U.S.S.R. is shown in the accompanying graph.
The U.S.S.R. has reason to be proud of the success of its Second Five-Year-Plan, but its leaders are wise to utter a caution against premature enthusiasm. Not yet is the standard of living in the Soviet Union equal to the standard of England or the U.S.A. They know it and say it, and permit others to say it. Honest in criticism of themselves, they honestly permit criticism from others. Such at least was my own experience.
Three times whilst in Russia I was asked for a frank opinion as to what I had seen and learned: once at Moscow, once at Rostov, and once at Odessa. Scrupulous care was exercised to report me exactly, and proof-sheets of the interview were submitted. “Did I desire”, they asked, “upon reflection to make any alterations?” Then, and then only, did they publish the result of the interview in full: not omitting the criticisms.
One criticism, or rather it was a warning, was directed against over-statement as to the nature of their present achievement in comparison with other lands. In the rate of production, both of capital and consumable goods, they have indeed surpassed all capitalist countries. In total bulk of goods produced they have surpassed all but the U.S.A. But in the production both of capital and consumable goods per capita they were not yet abreast of leading capitalist countries.
It was not easy to make some of the younger Soviet people understand this. They had never travelled. They could not compare their standard with that of England, Germany, or the U.S.A., which they had never seen. They knew by daily experience how rapid is the increase in Soviet capital and consumable goods, and they knew by statistics how total production in their own land compared with that of others. They did not know, or did not grasp, the relative production per person of the population, and it is in that respect that they have not yet caught up with the technically advanced lands of the capitalist world.
In rate of development and in rate of increase of output the U.S.S.R. easily leads the way. Industry in capitalist countries, after the crisis of 1929, had barely reached 103.5 per cent, of its 1929 level in 1937. Since then it has suffered from a renewed economic crisis. Large-scale industry in the U.S.S.R. in 1937, on the other hand, reached 428 per cent, of the 1929 level. Total industrial production, heavy and small together, reached 371 per cent.
Again, in 1938, the output of the entire industry of the U.S.S.R. increased by 412 per cent, of the 1929 level, and in large-scale industry as much as 477 per cent.
In capitalist countries industrial production in 1938 declined by 13.5 per cent, as against the preceding year, dropping to 91 per cent, of the 1929 level.
Rate of growth is, then, the present outstanding feature of Soviet production, and many considerations combine to foster the belief that the rate will not decline.
But output per head of the population is another matter, and here the U.S.S.R. has failed as yet to catch up with England, Germany, the U.S.A., or other technically or economically more highly developed capitalist lands.
In the words of Stalin, at the 18th Congress of the Party: “In 1938 we produced about 15,000,000 tons of pig iron; Great Britain produced 7,000,000 tons. It might seem that we are better off than Great Britain. But if we divide this number of tons by the number of population we shall find that the output of pig iron per head of population in 1938 was 145 kilograms in Great Britain, and only 87 kilograms in the U.S.S.R. Or, further: in 1938 Great Britain produced 10,800,000 tons of steel and about 29,000,000,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, whereas the U.S.S.R. produced 18,000,000 tons of steel and over 39,000,000,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. It might seem we are better off than Great Britain. But if we divide this number of tons and kilowatt hours by the number of population we shall find that in Great Britain the output of steel per head of population was 226 kilograms and of electricity 620 kilowatt hours, whereas in the U.S.S.R. the output of steel per head of population was only 107 kilograms, and of electricity only 233 kilowatt hours.
“What is the reason for this? The reason is that our population is several times as large as that of Great Britain and hence our requirements are greater : the Soviet Union has a population of 170,000,000, whereas Great Britain has a population of not more than 46,000,000. The economy power of a country’s industry is not expressed by the volume of industrial output in general, irrespective of the size of the population, but by the volume of the industrial output taken in direct reference to the amount consumed per head of population.”
That is lucidly put, and I have ventured to quote it at length both as a good example of the simplicity of Stalin’s style in speaking to the people, and also because it endeavours to keep the people aware of realities and avoid premature self-congratulations. On similar reasoning output per head of coal is less than that of France, and considerably less than that of Britain and Germany. Output of electric power per head of the population in 1937 was less than half that of France and almost one-third that of Britain. The U.S.S.R. also still lingers behind in volume of production per head of population in such manufactured goods as textiles, paper, and soap.
This criticism of premature enthusiasm is necessary. It is the spur to drive the U.S.S.R. within the next Five-Year-Plan period to make the insufficiency good. The goal is clear. The people must surpass in both capital and consumable goods, not only European countries, but the technically more advanced U.S.A. This accounts for the drive to increase electric power, coal, iron, steel, and other raw materials, to improve organization and the technology of production, to take full advantage of modern achievements in science and invention, and to master not only quantity of output but quality too.
In the words of V. Molotov : “In accordance with Lenin’s teaching that ‘productivity of labour is, in the final analysis, the most important, the principal factor for the victory of the new social system’, we must secure the maximum development of socialist emulation and the Stakhanov movement, the steady strengthening of labour discipline in all enterprises and institutions, in all collective farms; we must insure a high productivity of labour on the part of, the workers, peasants, and intelligentsia, and productivity of labour worthy of a Socialist Society.”