E. Germain

Where Is the Soviet Union Going? 4

The 5-Year Plan and the New “Left Turn”

(29 June 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 28, 13 July 1946, p. 7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

As a consequence of the war and the weakening of the USSR in relation to imperialism, as a consequence of the reactionary policies of the Stalinist bureaucracy which, from fear of the proletariat and its revolutionary traditions, appealed during the war to the most reactionary instincts of the most backward layers of the population; as a consequence of all these factors, the elements of a new exploiting capitalist class became considerably strengthened during the war.

In the year that followed termination of the war, a series of internal struggles within the bureaucracy led to a new consolidation of the Bonapartist party apparatus around Stalin. This consolidation expressed itself in a new and pronounced “left turn,” that is to say, in a resumption of the struggle against capitalist elements in industry and agriculture as well as in a further tightening of the party’s grip on the state apparatus and the official ideology.

Aim of Plan

In the field of industry, the looseness of planning in heavy industry and its virtual disappearance in light industry, which took place throughout the war, were successfully overcome and replaced by the first applications of the Fourth Five-Year Plan. This plan sets a very definite goal; the reconstruction of the devastated regions of Russia, an increase of steel production, and in general the attaining of higher levels of production than on the eve of the war.

Thanks to the abundant contributions from the newly industrialized regions of East Russia and Siberia; and thanks above all to the ruthless pillage of occupied countries, this reconstruction is well on its way. The total of Russian industrial production already surpasses the 1940 level. The industrial production of the Ukraine, notably the Donetz Basin, has already reached 60 per cent of the prewar level. It should be noted, however, that the Fourth Five-Year Plan once again sacrifices the sphere of consumers’ goods to means of production, that is to say, ignores the most pressing; needs of the masses, and thus becomes the source of grave social disturbances.

Agricultural Crisis

At the same time the Soviet press has engaged in a violent campaign against the new exploiting elements in the countryside. Hitherto it had ecstatically reiterated that “classes have completely disappeared.” Now, recognizing for the first time in ten years the existence of these elements, the Stalinist journalists have launched harsh attacks against “peasants who monopolize the land of the collectives for their personal profit.” They denounce the “persistence of the capitalist spirit in the countryside,” and instruct the local party bodies to implacably eliminate all abuses.

As a matter of fact, the government has taken Draconian measures to force the collective farmers to comply with the plan. A rigid control of planting has been introduced, and a discriminatory policy in granting credits, material aid, seed, tractors, etc., is pursued in the devastated regions in order to favor the “loyal” agricultural enterprises which fulfill the plan.

In the realization that without the technical base of mechanization, the collective farm system must necessarily fall apart, a number of prewar machine and tractor stations have been rapidly restored in western Russia. But a large number of these stations are “ghost stations,” lacking equipment. It will take many years of the Fourth Five-Year Plan before the situation in Soviet agriculture is restored.

Bureaucratic Rift

In the political field the latent tension between the new military caste and the party, which appeared to have lost supremacy in the course of war, has been resolved in favor of the latter. The new Soviet government does not include a single member of this new military caste. On the contrary, the only two military men who are included, Voroshilov and Budenny, are the two sole survivors of the Red Army of Lenin and Trotsky. It is noteworthy that the majority of the marshals, the “war heroes,” had been shifted toward the end of hostilities and were finally relegated to the distant and most remote provinces, where they are incapable of consistently influencing Russian political life.

In the ideological field, this political weakening of the military caste has expressed itself in an abrupt halt of the ultrachauvinist propaganda. Soviet periodicals have even been suppressed for having too strongly insisted on glorifying Russia’s past and Czarist heroes. A special resolution of the Central Committee of the “Bolshevik Party” has “condemned this deviation” – although it had been officially propagated for several war years! – and insists on the revival of the “propagation of Marxism-Leninism.”

Need for Terror

Some foreign observers have found it possible to discover the appearance of a “third apparatus,” injecting itself between the party apparatus and the military apparatus, that is, an independent apparatus of the state which serves as a buffer between the rival factions of the bureaucracy. In our opinion, involved here is a case of optical illusion.

In reality, as with Stalin’s “left turn” in 1927, the present “left turn” is accompanied by an important strengthening of the state and of the repressive apparatus. This is reflected precisely in the limited and contradictory character of this “left turn,” executed by a rapacious bureaucracy quaking before the people.

Hence the astonishing declaration of Pravda to the effect that: “The essential contribution of Stalin to Marxist Leninist Doctrine is his theory of the strengthening of the state during the transition from the socialist society to the communist society.”

From the Marxist point of view this declaration is gross nonsense. The state must disappear and not become stronger with the disappearance of the classes. But this “theory” does admirably reflect the desperate position of the bureaucracy which, in face of the capitalist menace and the pressure of the masses, finds its only salvation in the resurgence of police terror.

(The above is the fourth in a series of articles, translated from the Belgian Trotskyist paper, La Lutte Ouvrière, June 29. Next week’s Militant will print the fifth in the series.)

Last updated on 22 June 2021