Christian Rakovsky

On the Five Year Plan


From The Militant, Vol. V No. 11 (Whole No. 107), 12 March 1932, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

(Continued from last issue)

In the following metallurgical factories and types of enterprises, the amount of defective goods was [1]:

Djerdjinsky factory (wrought iron plates)


  32 per cent

Djerdjinsky and Petrovsky factory (steel parts)

  40 per cent

Verkimye-Turinsk factory (steel parts)

100 per cent

Lapayevsky factory (sheet metal)

  40 per cent

Nadjejdinsky factory (high quality steel)

  30 per cent

Marti factory (steel)

  32 per cent

This list can, of course, be increased many times. It is a matter, therefore, not of single defects, but of a whole system of producing defective goods. The percentage of slate in the production of coal increased sharply, reaching in some instances as much as 18 per cent. Only 20 per cent of the bricks produced could stand up under the established methods of loading. Matters are still worse in light industries, in which textiles broke all records. According to the figures often quoted, the average percentage of defective goods in the different trusts was 50 per cent. The press also quotes the figures of the losses in millions of rubles, connected with this drop in quality. It is characteristic that the new factories do not remain behind in the percentages of defective goods. The textile factory of the Melange Syndicate, which has been recently constructed, produced in April, 93.98 per cent (!) and in May 92.37 per cent defective goods. According to the figures of the People’s Commissariat of Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection, the percentage of defective goods in the needle industry amounted to 30 per cent this year as against 10 per cent last year. Defective goods in the production of rubber reaches 14 per cent, of shoes 13 per cent. There is literally not a single branch of industry where the problem of quality is not a very painful one, and there is almost not a single branch where the current year did not bring a deterioration of quality. It is clear, in connection with this, that where the produce has to go through several stages in the process of production or through several branches of industry, the poor quality, in one branch is multiplied by the poor quality in all the other branches. To what conclusions does an examination of the question of quality bring us? There are two conclusions:

(1) The deterioration of the quality of production makes the quantitative indices more or less fictitious. Even Kuibishev was compelled to admit this at a session of the praesidium of the Supreme Economic Council, where he declared: “The figures of the tremendous growth of industry become relative if we take into consideration the qualitative changes”. (Ekonom. Zihzn, May 22, 1930) Za Industrializatsiu of July 18, expresses itself still more emphatically, when it declares that under such conditions “all our quantitative achievements would not amount to a farthing” ....

In a whole series of instances, the deterioration of quality not only annuls the quantitative achievements, but even converts them into the opposite. For example, in the survey regarding the work in the textile industry for the first half year (Za Industrializatsiu, April 20) we read: “In many enterprises the plan of production is fulfilled at the expense of a growth in industrial losses and in defective goods among finished and half-finished manufactures. The ultimate result shows that this makes the quantitative achievements negligible and that it has incurred losses to the textile industry and to national economy as a whole. Finally, in several groups of commodities, the cost of production is not covered, not to speak of any accumulation.” This is the reverse side of the high tempo of increasing production.

Only a comparison with the qualitative indices makes it possible to judge the quantitative indices. Without taking into account the quality of the products, the quantity figures represent a mere statistical fiction, which does not at all give a picture of the actual state of affairs. It is entirely clear that only by dividing the quantitative indices by the qualitative ones, can a true picture of reality be obtained. Such a picture would be considerably different from the one drawn in flippant articles by the official press. Unfortunately, there are not as yet such indices, with the help of which it would be possible to determine the level of the quality of production and, through that, also the actual level of its quantitative growth. This is our first conclusion.

(2) The qualitative indices so far achieved, not only disclose the great relativity of the quantitative indices at the present, but also their possible trend in the future. At the same time, the qualitative indices also demonstrate indirectly the degree reached by the intensity of labor, with which they are closely bound up. Intensity of labor is driven to such limits that the worker who produces the amount demanded of him, is no longer able to direct his attention to the quality. All the data indicate that (further on, we shall once more come back to this) on the given technical basis, we have arrived very close to the boundary, beyond which a further increase in quantity through an increase in the intensity of labor can only be bought at the expense of a deterioration in quality. The quality of production is a signal warning that a further increase in quantity at the expense of an increase in the intensity of labor is no longer possible.

(To be continued)

Barnoul, July–August 1930



1. These figures were taken from several issues of Za Industrializatsiu (On Industrialization) and Ekonomitchiskaya Zhizn (Economic Life) at the end of the first half of the fiscal year 1930. But if there has been any change since, then only for the worse. – Ch.R.

Last updated on 20.5.2013