Walter Ulbricht

The Reformists Propagate
Production Sabotage in the USSR

(1. January 1930)

Source: Walter Ulbricht, Zur Geschichte der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung, Vol. I (1953).
Translation: The Red Path.
HTML Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The reformists adapt their struggle methods against the USSR to the changed conditions. While after 1917 the direct military intervention [1] was organized, the enemies of Soviet power use different forms of production sabotage during the reconstruction phase. They combine the preparations of exteriorly attack with the direct production sabotage and the propagation of sabotage of working productivity in the country.

In the last weeks the social-democratic press led a systematically campaign against the socialist emulation.

In the Gewerkschaftszeitung, No. 39, Mr. Schwarz oracles about the “big dangers of socialist emulation”. His hostility he coats with the view, that the participation should be “left up” to every worker. Mr. Schwarz proclaims the right on sabotaging the socialist emulation and sabotage of production. At the same time he wants to tell the German workers, that the workers of the Soviet Union would only participate “by force” in that emulation. The social democrats have so big capitalist blinkers, that they are unable to recognize, that the workers, when they have the state power, when they are the masters of production, participate voluntarily in socialist emulation, because they work for themselves, for their own interests.

Socialist emulation is the communist method of socialist build-up. With the help of the emulation the maximal mass activity for the transition of the economy on socialist basis is being unfolded. The immense importance of the development of working productivity not just for the Soviet Union, but also for the world revolution in general, was most clearly developed by Lenin in his work A great Beginning:

“Work productivity is in last instance the most important and most significant for the victory of the new societal order. Capitalism has created a working productivity, which was unknown under feudalism. Capitalism can finally be beaten and will be ebaten, that socialism creates a new, far higher work productivity ...

“Towards the capitalist working productivity, communism means a higher working productivity of voluntary, conscious, united creating people, who use developed technology.” [2]

That is the best reasoning of the necessity of socialist emulation. With help of the emulation the backward enterprises get supported to reach a higher production niveau. While the emulation leads to a common increase of working productivity, it creates the conditions for raise of the living niveau of all workers, because the surplus product is being used in the Soviet Union for the social needs of the working class. A part of it the workers get instantly by lowering the work time, improving social facilities, increase of wages etc. Another part of the surplus product they get later, while by creation of new production branches and the raising of production quality the workers get the possibility for a higher living standard.

The outstripping of the tempo of capitalist economy by the socialist build-up in the USSR means at the same time the increasing economic independence of the Soviet power and the strengthening of the national defense. But the warship social democrats want an economic weakening of the Soviet power.

Socialist emulation stands in principle contradiction to capitalist concurrence. Concurrence between the enterprises or between the workers means in capitalism destruction of one by another, lowering of the livelihood of the working people, firing of workers from the enterprises, destruction of solidarity of the workers. While the reformists struggle against socialist emulation, they support capitalist rationalization and the deepening of concurrence between the workers in the capitalist enterprises. They preach “working happiness” to the workers and try to convince them, that the increase of the work productivity would push the entrepreneur to to improve the working conditions. They subordinate the workers interests to the capitalist profit interests. The reformists are necessarily principle enemies of socialist build-up in the Soviet Union and the methods of socialist emulation, because every progress of socialist build-up proves lively, that under the Soviet power the unfolding of productive forces, the use of all technical possibilities and the raise of material and cultural niveau of the working people is possible.

Mr. Schwarz claims, that the emulation would be done “on all costs – also on cost of the worsening of working conditions and worsening of commodity quality”. These words are absolutely right, not for the Soviet Union, but for the capitalist rationalization politics of the reformists. While in capitalist Germany in connection with the execution of the Young Plan [3] a reduction of social care is being implemented and the livelihood of the workers is being worsened, the five year plan in the Soviet Union implements in connection with the development of production forces a comprehensive social program for the improvement of the livelihood of the working people.

At the end of the five year plan the nominal wages will raise by 47% and the real wages by 71% as in the first year. Additional comes to it, that the situation of the workers gets improved by other efforts too, for example the spending for social insurances are being increased by 100%. The five year plan, whose feasibility is already proved by the balance of the first year, brings an increase of consumption by the people by 66%. Of course in the context of technical improvements and with the better organization of labor in the enterprises the accord wages are being reduced. But that does not mean a decrease of real wages of the workers, because the increase of productivity of work is the condition for the raise of living niveau of the whole working class.

Nobody denies, that in this gigantic build-up mistakes and grievances exist. The Soviet power mobilizes the working masses for the overcoming of the grievances, by publishing the mistakes openly in press. The reformists still believe, that by abusing such publications they could mislead the German workers. They do not want a solving of these grievances, but that they wish, that these single grievances become a system.

The Gewerkschaftszeitung quotes for example two workers, who are against socialist emulation. In the letter of the first worker it is written:

“I see no use in this emulation. How should I not be angry, when the plan destroys the plan of personal enrichment, when there is after the work in the enterprise no power anymore for the work in the village anymore.”

No doubts there is a bigger number of workers, who think so. These are the people, who come in context of the progressing industrialization from the village into the factory, but see the work there more as a “side job” and their whole mind is fixed on improving their small individual farms.

In the other letter it is being said:

“As an old worker I share totally this view (emulation would be exploitation) and therefore I do not participate in the emulation myself and do not try to be more productive in work than the others.”

It is natural, that many old workers, who are familiarized with the antiquated working methods of the pre-war era and war communism, can barely be involved into the mass initiative of socialist buildup and the socialist emulation. So the most backward people, who are still tightly connected with the village, have a relatively low cultural niveau and on on old workers are those who the reformists use to back their argumentation against the socialist buildup.

When the socialdemocratic arbiters in Germany extend the work time, then they do not care at all about the opinion of the workers. But when in the Soviet Union the work time is being reduced and under such conditions the workers care by themselves, that the solidarity of the workers is not being violated by some workers, who are doing by old tradition a “saint Monday” or sabotage the production, then the reformists step in as most pitying friends of such elements.


1. Not just the exorbitant Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, but also the intervention by German Freikorps in the Baltics 1918–1920. In that time SPD was the main governing party.

2. W.I. Lenin, Ausgewählte Schriften in 2 Bänden, Vol. II, p. 576, German.

3. American plan for reparations by Weimar Republic. Till 1988 yearly 2 billion Reichsmark should have been paid (it was really not affordable, even with massive cuts).


Last updated: 28 October 2017