Boris Souvarine

The Five Year Plan

Source: This article originally appeared in the Bulletin Communiste, no 31, February 1930, and was reprinted in LURSS en 1930, Éditions Ivrea, Paris, 1997.
Transcription: Paul Flewers, for the Marxists Internet Archive in 2008
Translation and Annotations: Al Richardson, the translation was checked by Harry Ratner
HTML Markup: David Walters
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2008). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” and all credit above as your source.

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ALL the political, economic and social problems whose solution is determining the present and future of the Russian Revolution, and consequently, international Communism, are from now on summed up in the USSR’s economic Five Year Plan. The Plan should allow the Soviet Union, so it seems, to “catch up with and overtake the capitalist countries” in the sphere of production, and to provide for its citizens a well-being unknown elsewhere. “Catch up and overtake” is the formula repeated every day and on every page of every Soviet newspaper and is echoed in all the speeches, reports and official statements, the obsession with which must keep the workers in Russia in constant suspense.

But “catch up with and overtake” which capitalist countries? For striking as it looks at first sight, the expression is not without its ambiguities. Is it a question of the bourgeois states as a whole, those European countries that are most advanced from the point of view of industrial civilisation, or solely the United States, considered as the nation which above all represents capitalism at its highest stage of development? The originators of the Five Year Plan are reticent on this score, and cultivate an imprecision that favours whatever interpretation circumstances require… On the other hand, they spare no superficial detail, nor any useless figure in their day-to-day commentaries about the progress of the Plan, whilst concealing for as long as possible information that is really indispensable for understanding its actual or probable results, if it is awkward to admit. However, by patiently consulting a mass of official Communist literature and taking the trouble to study and come into contact with certain essential information, it is possible to form a serious opinion of this Plan and the future consequences of its application.

First of all, how did it originate? On the occasion of the Twelfth Anniversary of the Revolution, Trotsky wrote in his press:

The years 1923, 1924 and 1925 were spent in struggle against so-called super-industrialisation—the name used to refer to the Opposition’s demand that the rate of industrial development be accelerated; against the principle of a planned economy; against economic foresight in general.[1]

This assertion is indisputable. In fact, the proposal to devote a greater proportion of the budgetary resources and the national revenue to the industrialisation of Russia in line with general plans belongs entirely to the Opposition, whose chosen spokesman is Trotsky. After the leaders of the Bolshevik party and the Soviet state had condemned this proposal as utopian and its proposer as petit-bourgeois, they very quickly took over the idea they had condemned and more or less intelligently attempted to carry it out.

In 1925, the State Planning Commission, under the singular heading of “control figures”, apparently implying retrospective verification, for the first time drew up an economic programme for the financial year of 1925/26. With legitimate satisfaction, Trotsky commented in Pravda in August-September 1925 on the forecasting statistics from which came—he wrote—“the mighty historical music of the progress of socialism”.[2] But perspectives sketched out in this way were very quickly shown to be false and the calculations thwarted by the productive forces, the growing needs of the population and the antagonism of the social classes. The annual plans lacked width, breadth and vision. A first “Five Year Plan” was framed in 1927 for the period from October 1926 to September 1931; the “control figures” were to correct or modify year by year the arrangements for the next financial year according to the results of the past year.

The Opposition, under the leadership of Trotsky, made a thorough criticism of this plan, which it judged to be sparse and pessimistic. At the Fifteenth Party Congress, it showed that a plan like this had to be rejected as incompatible with the advance of Russia towards socialism: it did not permit a serious economic advance on account of insufficient capital investment in industry, and did not solve any urgent problems, whether those of increasing production, consumer growth, lowering prices, the scarcity of goods, transport, exports, nor of the defence of the country in the event of war. The Opposition mainly demanded that for industry budgetary allowances must in five years reach “between 500 and 1000 million roubles a year”; moreover, that there should be a tax of between 150 and 200 million roubles on the profits of private capital, a forced loan of 150 million poods of grain from the rich peasants, a lowering of wholesale and retail prices, a lowering of unproductive expenses, and the banning of the state monopoly of alcohol in two or three years.[3]

The leaders then had Trotsky and his comrades thrown into prison or deported to Siberia. After that, in 1929, they drew up a new Five Year Plan for 1928-33, with two variants, and then made official the “maximum” proposal adopted by the Sixteenth Party Congress in April 1929 and the Fifth Congress of Soviets in May 1929, which was now expanded in the process of carrying it out—a plan that made the “super-industrialist” ambitions of the Opposition appear modest. This is the plan now in operation that is under consideration here.

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The best way of not understanding the Plan is to attempt to take on board the fanciful figures provided in abundance by the governmental departments of the USSR in the interests of propaganda. There are in them an incredible jumble of roubles, tons, hectares and kilowatts, the lot occasionally expressed in percentages referring to different starting-off points, with a mixture of forecasts and results contradicted by corrections, with the constant complication of a currency that changes its value (not to mention the social side of things, which is always in contradiction with its purely economic appearance as expressed in the successive figures). If we compare the accounts of different people, based upon the reports of different institutions, it is rare that the data coincide. Moreover, the inappropriate nature of the terms used frequently alters the true picture in a most striking manner: thus the doubling of a figure is nearly always represented as a double increase, which then comes out as a triple: this continual error transmitted to percentages completely messes up the reasoning. Finally, the flashy statements or outright lies printed in banner headlines in the Soviet press are often contradicted in the same newspaper, but in microscopic letters, in a report from the state organisation in question.

On the other hand, the most important figures to know appear at first sight to be the most insignificant: those that indicate discrepancies in accomplishing the key tasks traced out by the Plan. For the whole thing would be threatened with dislocation if the different parts of the system had a pronounced tendency towards deviating from the programme . And a thousand million kilowatt hours that has only to be produced as a one-off does not compensate for a two or three percent shortfall in carrying out vital work, for example, the extension of the area under cultivation. We have to envisage what a few units of percentage represent in Russian proportions: “The failure to achieve even one per cent of the production plan on our great scale deprives the proletarian land of hundreds of thousands of tons of products and paralyses our way forward”, said Izvestia on 30 January 1930, and rightly so.

We shall therefore limit ourselves to examining the main numerical data capable of giving us an idea of the Plan as a whole and its aims, whilst laying aside for later the figures that show interdependent tendencies .

For the Plan to be realised, it has to increase the value of industrial production from 18.3 thousand million roubles to 43.2 thousand million roubles; and that of agricultural production from 16.6 to 25.8 thousand million. The national income must reach 49.7 thousand million (in place of the 24.4 before the war). For that, 64.6 thousand million must be invested in the whole of the economy, 16.4 of it in industry, 10 in transport, 3.1 in electrification and 23.2 in agriculture. (The real value of the rouble-chervonets varies between three and four francs, according to its purchasing power.) The “socialist” sector must expand to the detriment of the private sector, wages must go up as a whole by 71 per cent on average, and the level of mass public education must be noticeably raised. But all this is conditional on lowering cost prices by 35 per cent in industry and in construction by 50 per cent, and the retail price index of 14 per cent, on increasing the output of workers” labour by 110 per cent, the productivity of the soil by 35 per cent, the area sown by 22 per cent, lifting the value of the rouble by 20 per cent, and raising the quality of production to a level close to that of the advanced industrial countries. (And during this time the population would be increasing by 18 million people.)

How far does this apparently imposing programme correspond to real progress? The present production of the USSR is so insignificant with reference to its needs and so inferior in quantity and quality to that of the capitalist countries, and the living standards of the Russian workers are so low that the forecasted increase in production of 175 per cent in industry and 50 per cent in agriculture would still not register as a noticeable improvement in the material condition of the mass of the people, above all if we take account of the growth in the population, and of the fact that 78 per cent of the capital allocated to industry will go to the means of production, and not to consumer products. The point of departure is so low that the rate of progress expected would not realise quite so soon the dream of Americanising the USSR. Let us take note of Molotov’s confession:

We must not, however, exaggerate the results already attained by industry. With but a few exceptions—coal, sugar beet—the share of the USSR in world production is still inferior to what it was before the war. (Report of 23 February 1929 to the Sixteenth Moscow Provincial Conference of the Communist Party).

The contrast with the boasts with which the Communist press of every country has been saturated for six years now is very striking. Krzhizhanovsky,[4] for his part, recognised: “In 1927/28, the national income overtook that of 1913 by 16 per cent. But in two departments, those of iron and grain production, we were still well behind 1913.” (Report to the Sixteenth Party Conference, April 1929) But how does the considerable shortfall in these two important sectors of production nevertheless allow an overall increase of 16 per cent? Has this calculation been made taking into account the increase in population? And upon what value of the rouble is it based? What are the relationships between prices and quantities? We shall show later what confidence can be placed in these statements. Taking the example of cereals alone, Rykov stated that the harvest envisaged for 1929 was of 73.3 million tonnes in place of the 96.6 of 1913 (Report to the Sixteenth Party Conference, April 1929); now the population has risen from 135 to 155 million inhabitants. How do we compensate for this disastrous decline in evaluating the revenue as a whole? Rykov now notes (in the same Report) that after the forecasts for 1929, a good harvest year, a drop of 19.7 per cent for rye and of 5.3 per cent for wheat compared with the preceding year; and that is while making allowances for optimism in the planning. Such steps backwards from one year to the next considerably reduce the significance of a very conditional hope of increasing agricultural production by 50 per cent in five years. The forecasts for industry are just as uncertain.

According to Rakovsky’s calculation:

If the Plan is to be fulfilled completely , then at the end of the Five Year Plan the national revenue should have increased (per capita of the population) by 51 per cent in the towns, by 52 per cent in the countryside and by 40 per cent in the prosperous part of the countryside. However, this depends upon the stabilisation of prices (for agricultural products) at a level of 114 per cent, that is to say, 14 per cent higher than in 1927/28… The real income of the [urban] worker must increase by 58 per cent by the end of the Five Year Plan, while productivity per worker must increase by between 100 and 110 per cent.[5]

Thus the worker will see his miserable wage rise by a little more on condition that he doubles his production, on condition that agricultural prices do not rise excessively, on condition that the Plan is completely fulfilled, and indeed on other conditions that Rakovsky does not mention here and which we will see if they are realisable.

Therefore, even if the Plan is attained, it in no way “catches up and overtakes” a great capitalist country as regards material conditions. It does not merit the artificial fuss made of it by the Soviet state by means of astounding figures and noisy and empty phrases. The national income of the United States alone, to make only this point of comparison, is valued at 82 thousand million dollars for 1929—with a population of less than a third of that of the USSR.

However, this fanfare has made an impression on some of the foreign observers and commentators, among them being some who are usually on their guard, and the Communist press has been able to take advantage of some quite unexpected praise. In the Bulletin of the Association of Heavy Industries for 11 April 1929, Mr Max Hoschiller[6] does not conceal his respect for the columns of figures drawn up by Moscow’s economists. Mr Paul Scheffer,[7] the correspondent of the Berliner Tageblatt , wrote in the issue for 12 August last that “even if the attempt is only three-quarters successful, that would be enough for no one to have any further doubt about its ultimate success”. Mr Farson,[8] in The Chicago Daily News for 24 August, expresses his astonished admiration in the presence of “the surprising growth of collective agriculture”. Mr Farbman[9] published a hymn of praise on collective farms in the London Daily Herald . Mr Scheffer, in the Berliner Tageblatt for 23 August, thought he could claim that agricultural collectivisation “has overtaken in speed the socialisation of Russian industry”. It is true that the same person was disillusioned three months later after being subjected to the refusal of a visa that prevented him from returning to the USSR, and published in The Observer for 8 December a very different article from what went before: “Full Light on Russia—The Crisis of Fate—Stalin and Gathering Shadows—Ruining Agriculture to Force “Socialisation”—A Mighty Tyranny and Its Nemesis”. Izvestia for 6 October eagerly quoted the articles by Mr Feiler[10] of the Frankfurter Zeitung , the correspondents of the Neue Frei Presse , of the Vossische Zeitung , of the Munchener Neueste Nachrichten and of Mr Philip Kerr[11] in The Observer for 21 September. The economic edition of Le Capital for 20 September expressed an acceptance barely moderated by a few reservations, and Mr Aftalion[12] in its issue for 4 October discussed the Plan prudently and with reservations, that nonetheless allowed us to see how much he was impressed. Referring to a recent book by Feiler, LExpérience du bolchévisme , Mr Adolf Grabovsky[13] showed real admiration for the Plan and its application. Louzon,[14] in the Révolution prolétarienne for 15 December considers that Stalin’s present agricultural policy “seems to have been an enormous success”, and goes so far as to write:

We can therefore, in my opinion, regard the question as settled. Russian agriculture has become collective, and so, on two fronts, in the two great branches of production, in both industry and agriculture, the external framework of socialism can now be considered to have been built.

The same writer in the same magazine (issue for 1 February 1930) repeats it in these words:

Even if the Five Year Plan has not been completely realised, that is not to say that it will not be, it is indisputable that the industrialisation of the USSR has been greatly accelerated; it is no less indubitable that collective agricultural exploitation has developed at great speed, etc.

Finally, let us mention the British Annalist , which according to Krzhizhanovsky describes the Plan as if its success were possible.

Within Russia itself, the adoption of the Plan and the first months in which it has been put into practice has gained Stalin some success as regards internal policy. The greater part of the so-called “Left” Opposition has gone over to the official policy, in which it sees its own ideas. Radek, Preobrazhensky and Smilga,[15] inspired by the example of Piatakov and others, explain their submission in this way:

We consider the policy of industrialisation translated into the Five Year Plan as a programme of socialist construction and of strengthening the position of the working class. Attaining the Five Year Plan means a solution within a given period. We support the struggle against the kulaks and welcome the policy of installing Soviet collective farms. We approve of all the efforts of the party to organise the village poor separately, etc.[16]

Other well-known oppositionists such as Ivan Smirnov, Boguslavsky, Beloborodov, Ter-Vaganian, Mrachkovsky, Alsky, Serebriakov, Drobnis[17] and hundreds of their followers justified their submission with similar arguments. The former spokesman for the “Workers Opposition”, Aleksandr Shliapnikov has also let it be known by means of an article in Pravda on 16 December and a letter in Pravda on 26 December that he was in complete agreement with “the Party” as regards the industrialisation in progress, and retracted any previous criticism that he had formulated.

The irreconcilable opposition led by Trotsky, Rakovsky and Sosnovsky[18] itself finds no objection to the Plan in theory, in which it sees the success of its views imposed by the force of circumstances, the pressure of the proletariat and the struggle it has carried on for the last few years. It does not deny the results obtained in the course of the first financial year of this industrialisation, whose extent and speed it never dared envisage. (For what are the mere 500 million roubles annually, or even a thousand million, of industrial investments it proposed, compared with the 16 thousand million and more promised to industry in five years?) But it does challenge the possibility of carrying out the proposed programme under the existing political regime, and denies the existing leaders the ability to overcome the expected difficulties using the current bureaucratic methods. It also anticipates that, what in its own language it calls a new “zigzag to the right”, in other words dropping the present “leftist” orientation in the face of the obstacles to be overcome—and insurmountable if the Opposition is persecuted—would consequently have as its result a return to the line of least resistance followed previously, which above all consisted of compromising with capitalist elements in town and country. To tell the truth, the so-called orthodox “Bolshevik-Leninist” Opposition has observed a prudent silence in the face of a plan it had championed before all others; neither in its Bulletin , of which eight full issues have appeared, nor in the international press wholly devoted to defending its ideas, nor in the form of pamphlets or otherwise, has it ventured to present an overall appreciation of this unprecedented attempt, whose results, whether for good or ill, will be decisive for the immediate future of the revolution. This is a truly extraordinary omission, if we bear in mind that this opposition still aims for power, and that its undoubted leader, Trotsky, is well known among other things for his intellectual courage; but it is a bit less unexpected if we understand how embarrassed these men find themselves today at seeing their enemies attempting (however badly) the experiment that they themselves had wanted to undertake, and whose real effects are contradicting the forecasts of their best theoreticians. But in spite of the reserve they have shown, it is nonetheless possible to find allusions in their writings that sufficiently indicate their position.[19]

In a “Declaration” of 22 August last, that must be treated with caution given the circumstances in which its writers find themselves, Rakovsky and his friends wrote:

We consider the fight to implement the Five Year Plan as the most serious conflict to take place since the Civil War. The Communist Party and the proletariat and peasant poor that follow it are face-to-face with capitalism, which is again raising its head. On the outcome of the struggle may well depend the fact of the conquests of the October Revolution… At the same time we consider that the Five Year Plan can strengthen the proletarian dictatorship and constitute a major stage in the development of the class struggle only if its fulfilment is ensured by the proletariat and the peasant poor uniting around it under the leadership of the Communist Party.[20]

Whilst declaring on many occasions that it is “with the party”, in other words, with its leadership, in confronting the difficulties of struggle and work, they are discretely but clearly reminding their listeners of their own opinions on the political conditions for applying the Plan, and at no time are they questioning the Plan itself. “It is the direct duty of every Bolshevik-Leninist to give the party and the Central Committee full and unconditional assistance in carrying out the plans for socialist construction”, and so on, they add, obviously not as a stylistic flourish or out of internal intrigue, but as a sincere expression of their point of view. Trotsky, more free outside Russia, wrote on 25 September whilst adding his signature to those of his supporters: “The fact of the turn by the official leadership to the left is patent. Since 1926 we predicted more than once the inevitability of such a turn… ” He then repeats about it: “The shift of the official leadership to the left, and the extensive use of the ideas and slogans of our platform in the struggle against the Right… ” This is what he notes about the policy being pursued at present, agreeing in this with the least apathetic opinion in Russia, and also, a fact remarkable in itself, with the Party’s “Right Opposition”, which is taxing the leadership with “Trotskyism”, and finally agreeing with a good measure of socialists of various persuasions who also see Trotsky’s influence on the official policy. “Many of the slogans, ideas and formulations of our platform have now officially become party property”, he adds, and explains this by “the coincidence of the many extremely important practical measures” with “the slogans and formulations of our platform”, in spite of the difference between their guiding principles. Again let us quote from this passage:

You are absolutely correct to point out that the Five Year Plan of socialist construction can become a very important stage in the development of the October Revolution. In terms that are measured but not equivocal, you point out the conditions that would be needed for it but which do not exist as yet.[21]

It is always a matter of the political conditions, and not of reservations about the dimensions of the Plan. On the occasion of the Twelfth Anniversary of the October Revolution, Trotsky wrote:

The Five Year Plan came five years late… The first draft of the Five Year Plan prepared in 1927 was fully imbued with the spirit of pettiness, minimalism and economic cowardice. This draft was subjected to merciless criticism in the Platform of the Opposition . Only under the effect of our criticism, based as it was on the living needs of economic development, was the Five Year Plan revised from beginning to end over the course of one year… If the new Plan was worked out under the lash, it is not hard to imagine what kind of opposition it will encounter from within the apparatus upon its implementation, nine-tenths of the apparatus being more right-wing than the official Right Wing. Meanwhile, the left wing, from whose platform the basic ideas for the new Five Year Plan were taken, continues to be under a hail of repression and slander. The apparatus lives in anticipation of new changes…[22]

And in the same article, alluding to the balance sheet of the first financial year of the Plan, coinciding with the anniversary of the Revolution, Trotsky speaks for the first time since the “production figures” of 1925, of “great socialist” successes:

The Twelfth Anniversary finds the Soviet republic in such a state that outstanding progress is combined with the gravest difficulties; and at the same time both the progress and the difficulties continue to mount. … Industry has made and continues to make gains unprecedented under capitalism. Much less significant but nonetheless obvious has been the progress made in recent years in agriculture.[23]

At the same time, he writes in another article: “In accordance with our principles, we can only welcome the change in Soviet industry towards uninterrupted production as a new step on the road of the practical realisation of socialist principles”, whilst criticising the leaders for their underestimation of the immediate productive effects of this reform and their underestimation of its significance as a “cultural revolution”. Thus it was an overdue but necessary plan, inspired by the criticisms and proposals of the Opposition, bound to run into a vigorous resistance by the hostile classes, under the control of a slovenly and recalcitrant bureaucracy and subject to an inconsistent governmental policy that was dangerously susceptible of being turned “to the right”, but which has nonetheless justified itself in the first of its five years—such appears to be the opinion of a “Left” Opposition which it sees no need to promote or support openly.

As for the so-called “Right” Opposition, it has followed the example of the majority of the “Left” oppositionists by recognising its “errors” in turn and proclaiming the superiority of the Plan. One after the other, its interpreters, Rykov, Bukharin, Tomsky, Uglanov, Frumkin[24] and others have come over to the official policy in terms that do not even deserve to be repeated. And what do the errors they have abjured consist of? It is difficult to say with any certainty, in the absence of any programme from this tendency, or of any other document. In the polemics which have reached us, allusion is often made to “documents” of the Right known to no one outside the party’s Central Committee. Two articles alone from Bukharin have appeared charged with heresy, but in such a complicated gibberish of pusillanimity that we look in vain for any coherent thought.[25] We have to discern the opinions of the “rightists” from the disloyal diatribes of their opponents, a thankless task when we distrust the reciprocal distortions which all the official factions of Bolshevism are in the habit of using in their discussions. To sum it up, the “Right” condemned official policy as involving a “military-feudal exploitation of the countryside”, expressing the interests of a parasitic bureaucracy tainted with “Trotskyism”; it wanted to prioritise light industry over heavy industry, to reduce the general extent of the Plan, and to accumulate some reserves before attempting so intense an industrialisation; finally, it demanded an end to the “extraordinary measures” taken against those peasants who withheld grain (financial penalties, confiscation of harvests, administrative violence). This is therefore what it has retracted. There are good reasons for thinking that this change is insincere, but it is quite difficult to follow the tormented public pronouncements of all these great strategists without still adding a note of mental reservation. Before we form our own opinion, we must restrict ourselves to taking note of the massive rallying around the Plan undertaken by both Left and Right, a relative and momentary reconciliation of Bolshevism with itself, and the favourable reception it has gained abroad, in a particular sector of enlightened opinion, due to the boldness of the Plan and how it has begun to be applied.

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While noting that this vast programme of work and the development of production, though not as impressive as some claim, nevertheless represents a considerable effort by the Soviet economy, the reader who has the interests of the revolution at heart must ask what resources are available to cover the expenses. For to realise the Plan, it is a matter of investing 64.6 thousand million roubles and of setting a state budget amounting to 51 thousand million in five years—as a minimum, since they constantly boast of overtaking all the forecasts. Moreover, expenses that are not included in the Plan in reality bring the overall total close to 86 thousand million roubles. (The difference between this sum and the general level of the budgets is mainly represented by the resources of industry itself.) Now the abundant literature distributed by the Communist propaganda centres, in which tedious repetitions abound, is strangely silent as regards this, as if the economic plan could do without a financial plan. The reports of Rykov, Kuibyshev and Krzhizhanovsky to the Sixteenth Party Conference and the Fifth Congress of the Soviets disregard finance. Popular pamphlets do not even talk about it. Patient investigations among the special publications of the Commissariat of Finance and the Supreme Economic Council are necessary to discover the Soviet government’s intentions as regards the financing of the Plan. But when the persistence of the researcher gets to the bottom of the reticence of Gosplan’s economists, his discoveries largely justify the labour he has undertaken. A summary is enough to show this. (We have not been able to obtain the huge work in four volumes and a supplement, which is a summary of the work intended.)

The Plan is based upon the hypothesis of the stability of the rouble-chervonets and even a revaluation of it reaching 20 per cent by the fifth year. It envisages monetary issues of 1250 million. But this forecast is only valid if other targets are met, relating to a reduction in production costs, a lowering of market prices, and an increase in labour productivity and agricultural output. All these suppositions closely govern each other. The circulation of money will increase beyond the limits assigned to it, to the extent by which the circulation and the rising price of commodities demand it. Now a study of the results gained in the last few years gives us an idea of the programme’s feasibility with reference to cost prices, sale prices, productivity, etc. Inflation will very largely overtake, at least as much, and perhaps double, the 1250 million that is forecast, to judge by the latest budgets and balance sheets of the bank and price curves. Inflation is all the more certain since the Soviet economists have recently formulated opportunistic theories to justify it, after having for a long time denied its very existence. (Moreover, their latest thesis is borrowed from the Left Opposition, particularly from Preobrazhensky and Piatakov, who were the first to envisage inflation as a means of expanding industry by indirectly drawing on the reserves of the peasantry.) In sum, the thesis is now as follows: “The issuing of money cannot create inflation in an economy subject to a plan.” (Maimin,[26] Ekonomicheskaya Zhizn , 1 October)

To the extent to which the Plan dictates the proportions of the economy, the Soviet rouble will approximate to labour vouchers. Monetary units are no longer money with reference to the socialist sector, whilst they remain money in the private sector…; to buy the majority of the goods, he who has money must present specific documents, without which the money is of no avail. Goods are sold and are not sold. Money is already money no more. (Kozlov,[27] Planovoie Khoziastvo , no 8)

The same writers show the coexistence of different roubles by talking about them socially according to their purchasing power: the worker’s rouble, the peasant’s rouble, etc, and this purchasing power (tax prices, norms and frequency of rations) depends upon state regulation, ration cards and coupons; the workers and poor peasants will therefore not suffer as a result of monetary depreciation thanks to their social privileges, wages that vary according to the index, and their privileged rations.

This pretty logic is partly valid for the workers, to the extent to which they are supplied from the cooperatives and state warehouses, where the index may be accurately fixed and linked with real price variations, where the rations are sufficient, goods are not in default, their quality is normal, etc, and to an infinitely less extent for the poor peasantry. According to the same Soviet information, the workers obtained more than a third of their needs in 1929 by means of private trade; and the peasantry as a whole obtained 70 per cent of their needs through the free market, on account of the paucity of the cooperative network; the majority of goods are often lacking in the state trade, even those that were greatly needed; the low level of cereal harvests dictates a continuous increase in the price of bread on the free market, and consequently, other prices as well; the dearth of manufactured goods encourages speculation and a rise in prices; the official index inevitably follows the movement of the index of the free market, by reason of the interdependence of exchange; the state is powerless to control and regularise the market and cheats with its index, and therefore with wages. So workers and shop workers suffer from the devaluation of the rouble, and the poor and middle peasants even more so than the kulaks, since they need to resort to the market far more. Money is far from being converted into a means of accounting, even for the privileged sector of the population (during the war several countries experienced a strict rationing of primary products without money losing its specific character). The purchasing power of the rouble-chervonets is lowered without being eliminated. Soviet money remains money, but it is more and more depreciated. The issuing of the chervonets without backing is inflationary. The working class suffers the consequences of this financial policy. And the Plan is based upon a fictitious value of the rouble.

Apart from these inflationary thousands of millions, with a lower standard of living of the workers that goes with it, the Plan must absorb a portion of the budgetary returns, close to 45 thousand millions (44.7), coming mainly from taxes, of which about half are indirect ones (not to mention hidden and indirect taxation such as the high prices of the goods sold by the state). The insignificant numerical importance of the bourgeoisie in town and country in comparison with the mass of the population, and the limits imposed upon its business operations, leave us in no doubt that it is the mass of the workers, shop workers and working peasants who are paying the greater part of these taxes. The tax revenues of the nationalised enterprises, of which nearly 19 thousand million are to subsidise the economy, also represent a levy on this mass of consumers, through the exorbitant prices which nobody can escape paying; and the state intends to lower manufacturing costs substantially whilst diminishing the selling price little in order to increase these returns. Finally, the government loans, which almost amount to 7000 millions, are obviously forced taxes mainly obtained by deducting from the wages of the urban workers and routine subscriptions imposed upon small peasant producers. It is therefore essentially the urban proletariat, the rural semi-proletariat and the small cultivators living off their labour without exploiting anyone who will have to support the crushing financial burden of the Plan. So it is an entire generation of workers who have already suffered from the war, economic ruin, famine and under-nourishment, who are for certain to be sacrificed for the sake of an uncertain future. From the point of view of production alone, what can we expect from this sacrifice, this implacable pressure achieved by low wages, high prices, taxation, compulsory loans and inflation?

According to the First Five Year Plan, that of 1927, which the Left Opposition quite rightly discussed in its “Counter-Theses on the Five Year Plan” (International Correspondence , no 124, 11 December 1927), the prewar level of consumption per head of population would only be attained in 1932.[28] The present Plan, by raising investment in heavy industry by over three-quarters (78 per cent) has hardly brought forward the date at which the level of prewar misery will be overcome. And is this indispensable proletariat, already exhausted by the material living conditions and the tensions of effort at work, to be punitively subjected to the burden of the tens of thousands of millions of industrialisation, when the intensity of physical effort reaches the ultimate limit, so to speak? How will this be possible without a drop in productivity, an increase in manufacturing prices, the ruin of the rural economy, and consequently the collapse of the Plan? And for the great mass of the peasants, the work published in Moscow, Social Differentiation in the Soviet Countryside (published by the Communist Academy, 1928) estimates the annual income per family as follows: proletarian, 163 to 276 roubles; semi-proletarian, 234 to 329 roubles; middle-class, 343 to 455 roubles; and, let us repeat, this is the income per year and per family . How can we bleed these unhappy people of tens of thousands of millions without completely depriving them, condemning them to semi-famine and precipitating the collapse of agricultural production, without provoking as a result the crash of the Plan? To ask these questions is to answer them. An objective study of the Plan from the financial angle in which all the indices are summed up shows it to be impracticable.

To this we should add that the need to buy essential industrial equipment from abroad and to pay for it in gold diminishes the reserves of precious metal and foreign currency in the state bank and alters the relationship between government borrowing and its security in an inflationary direction, and accelerates the depreciation of the rouble. In order to safeguard the bank’s reserves, because of the scarcity of foreign credit, it is necessary to increase the volume of exports and deprive the Russian consumer of necessary primary products, resulting in a further raising of prices and lowering of real wages, and consequently new miscalculations in the Plan estimates, which reinforce the preceding observations. (As for investments to be made by industry itself, after raising taxes and paying off loans, these are only official accounting, paper exercise transfers, ensuring a redivision of the capital in agreement with a particular economic strategy.)

From another angle, the Plan appears to be undoubtedly destined for a fall: the education of staff and qualified personnel, without which advanced technique is unattainable. According to the official estimates, it is a question of creating 80 000 engineers, 150 000 technicians and 800 000 skilled workers; according to Krzhizhanovsky, in 1929 Russia only had 20 000 engineers, 20 000 technicians, 11 000 agronomists and 800 000 skilled workers. The educational institutions cannot make headway with such a task in such a short time, even with the projected increase in subsidies. Money, even when depreciated, cannot solve all problems. In the West, it is accepted that it takes at least five years to pass out of secondary education and seven years from primary higher education, without taking account of the practical stage, to train technicians to an average level of qualification. But for whoever knows the schools, the scholarly material, the teaching personnel, scant budgeting and the general conditions in the USSR, there can be no question of carrying out the “cultural” programme envisaged. A lifting of the general level of elementary teaching would be indispensable for the application of the Plan. Rykov admitted in his Report to the Sixteenth Party Conference: “Carrying out the Five Year Plan is only possible on the basis of the outstanding cultural progress of the working class and the overwhelming mass of the peasantry.” The Bolshevik party would never do what is necessary to accomplish this outstanding progress, for it would have to make a “clean” sweep that would put an end to the present dictatorship, for the regime whose incarnation is Stalin is inconceivable without the masses” ignorance and lack of consciousness. And it is remarkable that no opposition, of the right or the left, has ever carried out a campaign for public education, limiting themselves to ritual speechifying to rid themselves of the problem. Every Bolshevik faction that sets its eyes on power banks on the credulity of its followers, and fears the critical spirit. The dearth of specialists, the seriousness of which is daily reflected in the announcements of the Soviet press, is therefore nowhere near being ended. More than a million specialised workers were lacking in agricultural knowledge when the collectivisation envisaged was on a tenth of the scale of today. Time, experience and important material means, sending students abroad and foreign instructors coming into Russia would be necessary for a solution to the staffing problem. Stages can be bypassed and processes accelerated, but you cannot pass over all the necessary conditions.

The Plan is unrealisable for many other reasons. Agriculture in its aspect of small and medium cultivation with the continuing subdivision of the land and the technical inadequacy of individual ways of working in normal circumstances is incapable of providing for growing population and export needs; and collectivisation by pooling together land and mechanised farming is a long-term task; you do not get a kolkhoz by simply adding together hectares, tractors, superphosphates and muzhiks, contrary to what the hundred per cent Bolshevik wants to regard as pure Bolshevik-Leninism. The calculations made to justify the Plan do not merit the slightest confidence, even as approximate indications—statistics are put at the service of the powerful of the day who mangle them in accordance with the requirements of political opportunism; terrorised experts are forced to lay a fraudulent scientific varnish over faulty or tendentious calculations, and the leaders abuse themselves when they abuse those they lead; the impossibility of discussing the figures in a contradictory manner substitutes mystique for rationality; forecasts are regularly falsified by facts, and crucial decisions are improvised under the pressure of unforeseen circumstances; theory and practice are in permanent contradiction; all this is illustrated by incontestable facts throughout these latest years, and nothing allows us to think that anything different will happen: statistics violently mangled in the interests of factional struggle, the most eminent specialists recalled for lack of flexibility, public denials of ideas imposed the day before as unquestionable truths, factual situations violently contradicting the official versions, rapid changing of slogans or authorised interpretations of the main events without regard for political and economic continuity—all this is going on all the time, and is obvious.

Moreover, we cannot conceive that the real economic progress of the USSR towards socialism can be made by breaking with the policy undertaken by Lenin “seriously and for a long time” with the NEP,[29] which meant a return to the real programme of the party and to a Marxist understanding of the transitional period between capitalism and socialism, a concept temporarily obscured in the confusion of the Civil War in favour of a policy of expedients and illusions called “War Communism” after the event; and the main arrangements of the Plan only permit us to see a chain of causes and effects neutralising the essential characteristics of the NEP and carving a way through to the utopia of “Socialism in One Country”, but this time with the mortal dangers of putting it into immediate practice on a vast scale; the Soviet state will not be in control of the productive forces and the social resistance that it will arouse, without being able to counteract their internal logic in such a way as to maintain the outlines of the Plan; this was already the mistake of the Left Opposition in applying a theoretically correct concept, to engage, whether it realised it or not, in a civil war against the well-off peasantry, which in the given conditions could not but degenerate into a head-on collision between the state and the great mass of the peasantry, and consequently weaken the basis of the NEP, however different the intentions of its promoters, which history would not take into account. But the leaders responsible for the future of the revolution went far beyond the dangers implicit in the policy of the Opposition, by committing themselves to a decisive conflict with the whole of the most productive section of the peasantry before having the material and technical means to substitute collective exploitation for individual agricultural production for the market. This gradual irresponsible extinction of the NEP put the Soviet state in an untenable position, since the majority of the reasons behind the NEP remained in all their force, with the risks aggravated by the bureaucratisation of a party that monopolised state power and the disaffection of the revolutionary vanguard towards the official representatives of the revolution—and here all the political objections of the Left Opposition are also ours, without mentioning those that we have to add to them, and without losing sight of the fact that such burdens of work and sacrifice can only be imposed by a reinforced tyranny.

Finally, we cannot avoid taking account of the vital criteria provided by the experience of the first months of the elaboration and discussion of the Plan, which have a value completely different from those of the graphs, diagrams, dynamics and other seemingly wise hypothetical and soulless projections drawn up by technicians without conviction on the orders of politicians bereft of understanding. In fact, as we have said, the Plan was finally ratified at the Fifth Congress of Soviets at the end of May 1929, in other words, eight months after it had already been put into practice; only four months remained of the first year of its being applied; the 1928/29 financial year which served as its point of departure is therefore the second of the original Plan abandoned as falling too short of economic realities; it was therefore, according to the forecasts, the most modest year, the least difficult to carry out, and the least demanding for its ultimate success. Now, apart from those who are congenitally or wilfully blind, was it not clear during the experience of these last few months that all the abstractions of the Plan have been concretely contradicted? And why has the Opposition not seen this? There is lying about a rise in the quantity of production when it has been obtained at the expense of quality and paid for by a greater exploitation of the strength of the worker; lying about financial stability when the price index is continually rising and the accounts of the state bank reveal the inflation; lying about wage rises when everyone knows they are going down; lying about low prices when each person can see the rise; lying about socialist work emulation when the worker has the choice of working harder or unemployment; lying about the favourable results of the harvest and food supplies when ration books are being introduced; lying about the promise of present grain as a result of tractors in the future; lying about collectivising the fields without the mechanical means for cultivating them or the agreement of the peasants. And the result of all this lying is that this command optimism has been blown out of all proportion by the Soviet state for want of solid arguments that are convincing in themselves. This alone ought to be enough to instruct conscious Communists of their duty to take up a position against the Plan, not only as it has been applied, but as it has been thought up.

*  *  *

The first year of the Plan had still not run through when the Soviet publicity organisation proclaimed urbi et orbi [30] that results had overtaken hopes and had even allowed delays in the execution of the overall programme to be reduced. Even before the end of year accounts had been drawn up, verified, brought together and analysed, it was understood that the Plan had been achieved over and above its first targets, which had quite underestimated the creative forces of the masses and the impetuous thrust of socialist economic relations… The inanity of the whole of this fuss is sufficiently shown by the simple date when the Plan was adopted, the end of May 1929: barely three months, during which the most varied encouragements had been used to the utmost in the course of the most modest stage, should that have been convincing enough to shout about victory? It ought to show that the work of one year lightens the effort of the following year… Well, the reverse is true. The immensity of the task grows from year to year without the means of achieving it growing proportionately; and, moreover, the extreme tension imposed from the first year onwards in all departments causes inevitable hold-ups in the following years; the results already achieved compromise the results to come. But what is the balance sheet of this first financial year which, by any way of looking at it, in no way allows us to envisage the success of those that follow?

From August 1929 onwards, two months after the solemn decision of the Fifth Congress, the first notes of optimism were spontaneously heard on all sides, by the most curious of coincidences. Quite naturally, the entire Soviet Union throbbed in unison, and the same thought sprang up into every head: to realise the Plan in four years instead of five. Resolutions to this effect were voted unanimously all over the place. Yielding to the irresistible pressure of the broad masses, the official organs interpreted the ideological wave: “Realising the Five Year Plan in four years; contradicting the incredulous and the opportunists”, announced the Ekonomicheskaya Zhizn on 18 August 1929. Commenting upon the opinion that three-quarters of the Plan had been carried out expressed by Mr Paul Scheffer in a eulogistic spirit, Kviring[31] had written: “We are convinced that three-quarters of our Five Year Plan will already have been achieved in two years.” (Izvestia , 31 July) A book from Sabsovich and an article from Larin[32] in Pravda on 29 August were guaranteeing complete socialism in 15 years, on the basis of progress made in three months. “Some parts of the Five Year Plan can really be carried out in three years and the whole Five Year Plan can probably be carried out in four years”, said Ordzhonikidze at a district conference in Moscow (Inprecorr , 1929, p1434).[33] In the entire Russian Communist press and elsewhere, it is no longer a matter of a hurricane, an avalanche and a torrent as metaphors for the effects of the Plan, and the most moderate adjectives now in use are “formidable”, “gigantic”, “unheard-of”, “prodigious”, “grandiose” and “fabulous”. At the highest superlative note, everything appears to be feeble and colourless as a way of describing the Plan. Just how far the delirium can go can be judged by Manuilsky’s statement: “Our Five Year Plan is a plan for the destruction of capitalist stabilisation; the revolutionary movements in Germany or in India are a sort of guarantee for the carrying out of our Five Year Plan.” (Inprecorr , 21 September)[34] A certain Orlovsky did not hesitate to write quite coolly, so to speak, an article on the theme of “The Construction of Socialism in the Polar Region of the Soviet Union” (reproduced in the Inprecorr for 21 September).[35] A special pamphlet, distributed in every country, What Is The Five Year Plan? informs us of things like this:

The dazzling rapidity, unexampled in world history, the overwhelming enthusiasm with which the workers of the Soviet Union are building up socialism, is not a sports event undertaken with the desire to break all records…; these possibilities have spurred the working class [sic] on to a new objective: “The Five Year Plan in Four Years!” … the Five Year Plan… will be realised, not in five years, but in four years, and perhaps in an even shorter period of time…; according to these modest calculations [sic], the annual industrial production of the Soviet Union, from now until the economic year 1942/43 [sic], that is, in 13 years, will increase to 28 times its present production and in 18 years [sic] 100 times its present production; that is, five times as great as the present output in that “industrial paradise”, the United States of America… the seven-hour day prevailing today will be followed by the six-hour day in 1938 and the five-hour day in 1943.[36]

On 7 November, for the October anniversary, Stalin in person called 1929 “a year of great change”, and a “tremendous achievement” the fact that “the optimum variant” of the Plan “has actually turned out to be a minimum variant”.[37] A dispatch from Moscow to LHumanité published on 5 December under the title of “The Development of the Soviet Economy During the Year 1930 Will Achieve That Envisaged for 1933”, definitively announced:

In the course of the second year of the Plan, all the targets previously envisaged for the third will have been attained. In agriculture some of the targets envisaged by the Plan for the fourth year will already have been reached in the second. They even hope to take on tasks envisaged for the fifth year.

But we know what Levin is now writing in the magazine Communist International , no 1, January 1930: “The Five Year Plan can and will be accomplished in four years, and in certain respects in less than four.”[38] And here is a sample of LHumanité ’s current style: “Only the working class under the leadership of the Communist Party is capable of such a masterpiece of achievement.” (23 January 1930) Now let us take note of some of Molotov’s remarks:

As for already boasting of realising the adopted Plan, in say three years, that is irresponsibility… If we succeed in carrying out the Plan in four years, very good. If we achieve it in three years, even better. But we cannot take seriously any promise of shortening the time allocated to realising it by some few years. If we continue to show such irresponsibility in serious matters, perhaps it will come about tomorrow that comrades will be bold enough to promise that the Plan will be achieved in one year. (Report to the Moscow Regional Conference, 14 September)

And, in fact, why not? Once the first year had gone by, they could do no better than to achieve the whole lot all at once. It is no more difficult than “constructing socialism in the polar region”. Impossible is not a Leninist word.

And all this is because the production programme for the first year, or more exactly for the four months that remained to run after the adoption of the Plan, a first year that could prove nothing about the others, is supposed to have been achieved, or even surpassed. This is what we are going to examine a little more closely.

How are we to evaluate the results they are boasting about? It is a question not of material quantities, but of the value of gross production as expressed in the official prices. And how is this value calculated? In accordance with criteria more or less valid for the authorities, in the same way as capitalist firms make their balance sheets add up. And it is in roubles that are depreciating more and more. We find an admission of this in an article in Planovoie Khoziastvo (no 9, 1929) relating to the overall agricultural production, considered, at times, as having risen thanks to the rise in prices . It is the same in industry. Increasing the value of production by increasing prices, this is what they are boasting about. This deception explains the differences that appear in the comparative study of results variously expressed according to the publications in which they appear. He who has become acquainted with the Bolsheviks, however infrequently, and takes account of their procedures obviously knows that some weeks of patience are required to hear the necessary denials and corrections to premature boasting: that is how things have always been, and it is not wanting now. According to the Office of Financial Analysis of the Finance Commissariat, coal production has fallen behind the Plan by 5.8 per cent, casting by 4.2 per cent, naphtha by 1.1 per cent, and the production of cotton goods by 2.7 per cent. So far from being overtaken, the programme has not in fact been fulfilled, either in steel, machine building, the chemical industry, or in footwear, etc, and the result obtained is to the detriment of the quality and cost of production (Financy i Narodnoie Khoziastvo , 7 November). According to Ekonomicheskoie Obozrenie (no 10), there is a shortfall of 20 per cent in superphosphates, 14 per cent in wood, 3.5 per cent in steel, and between two and three per cent in smelting, iron ore and coal for the Plan to be realised (the figures never agree). At least as regards these percentages, we should notice the observation quoted from Izvestia above. Thus miscalculations have been made for coal, iron, steel, smelting, naphtha, timber and chemical products, the key industries, in other words.

It is worse in agriculture. “In 1928 the area sown has more or less remained at the previous year’s level without providing the increase made necessary by the growth in the population and the increased requirements that result from the country’s rapid industrialisation”, wrote Grinko,[39] but he added that in 1929 the increase had been six per cent “lower than the target set by the control figures of 1929, which required an increase of seven per cent”. This is still inexact according to information from Planovoie Khoziastvo (no 9), which stated that the 120 million hectares sown in place of the planned 123 would have been a four per cent increase instead of a seven per cent one; for cereals alone that the 95.8 million hectares in place of the stipulated 101.4 would only come to 93.4 per cent of the prewar level ; that the 1929 harvest was 6.7 per cent below that of 1913; and that with a lower yield of return per hectare and the increase in population the harvest had fallen, per head of inhabitants, from 58.4 poods per hectare before the war to 48.3 in 1928 and to 46.6 in 1929 (compare this with Rykov’s figures quoted above). As for cattle, they have also gone down, from 90.2 million head to 88.5 million, a figure still below the real one, for it then failed to recognise that the peasants penned up in the kolkhozes had gone in for their mass slaughter. According to Vishnievsky, the surface sown in rye and wheat, per head of population, has fallen by 13 per cent in comparison with 1927 (Ekonomicheskoie Obozrenie , no 10). And all this is in spite of the budgetary concessions and bank credits granted to agriculture. Precise investigations relating to certain particular aspects of the rural economy are even more revealing: that on Zernotrust, for example, concerning the whole of the grain sovkhozes, model farms and particularly the showcase of all of them, the Gigant farm:

The programme as regards yield (and therefore production costs) has not been completely achieved. The mass of the harvest [?] amounted to 55.7 per cent of the Plan…; in the Gigant Zernosovkhoz, for example, the rate of sowing [?] has been twice lower [?] than that of the Plan.” (Izvestia , 24 December 1929)

We do not otherwise understand any of this scrupulously translated jargon; but we understand all too well the fraud that we need to penetrate.

Well versed as we may be with the methods of bluff in full swing under Stalin, we cannot help reading with some surprise the Izvestia article of 15 January 1930 relating to “Capital Industrial Construction in 1928/29”, which supplies noteworthy corrections to the delirious assertions about the previous year:

Due to defects in our statistics, we have not so far had the possibility of publishing a balance sheet of industrial construction for 1928/29. We have only just brought together the necessary materials, but these figures are still preliminary and incomplete…

So for over five months they were proclaiming victory without having anything to go on. The writer states:

Taken separately, the construction plan for industry has only been achieved by 96.3 per cent, and by 72.1 per cent for electrification. Thus, in monetary terms , we are 3.7 per cent short in industry, and 27.9 per cent in electrification… In industry, such a result can hardly be regarded as satisfactory [sic].

Three and a half months earlier, a member of the Supreme Council of the Economy, A Smirnov,[40] had written that the programme had been achieved by 102 per cent (Torgovaia-Promychlenaia Gazeta , 1 October): “This data has been shown to be based upon nothing [sic].” And how did they work out the figure of 96.3 per cent? The following details explain it: “Less than 18.8 per cent in new factory building; less than six per cent in enlargement and reconstruction; over 19.5 per cent in capital repairs; less than 17.5 per cent in scientific research.” In other words, repairing is easier than building. But what bizarre methods of reckoning up the percentages, of adding them up and extracting the averages from them! A few lines later, and we are told that “if we examine the execution of the Plan from the point of view of the work assigned, it appears that work in constructing new factories is behind the overall plan mainly in the chemical industry, with 66.1 per cent of non-execution [a trifle], iron ore with 40.3 behind [a mere nothing], and coal with 10 per cent”; whereas the figures are completely different from the point of view of the expenditure involved. And that is not all: “Moreover, the quality and variety of the construction materials has noticeably worsened”; then the cost of construction has only gone down by six or seven per cent in place of the 15 per cent assigned: “the productivity of labour is extremely low”; and finally, “the non-execution of the task of lowering construction costs shows that the Plan has been achieved even less in material terms than in price terms”. In short, we still, “as usual, continue to build dearly, badly, and slowly”. This is a remarkable example of many types of deception being used to cover one and the same thing.

But this is still not enough. We must know the quality of the industrial production we are considering, a quality that at the same time puts in question the quantity of usable products and their price, and consequently the general financial situation and the purchasing power of the money spent. The Soviet press of 1929 did not cease complaining that the quality had not stopped getting worse. A few examples: in the weaving of cotton, between 40 and 50 per cent of the products were “unsatisfactory”; the enquiry revealed that this was due to attempts to lower the manufacturing cost; in metallurgy, in the Kolomna factory, 38 per cent of the wagon axles were rejects, and in the Bryansk factory—one of the main ones—50 per cent; the rails had to be replaced every two or three years, even though they were guaranteed for 10 years (Izvestia , 23 June). “Quality is unceasingly getting worse”, wrote the Rabotchaya Gazeta on 3 July, particularly as regards clothing and shoes. “We must emphasise that the party and the government will not tolerate lowering manufacturing costs at the expense of quality”, said Pravda on 10 July in an editorial full of dire phrases and threats. “The worsening of quality threatens our industry on every front [sic]”, Trud revealed on 12 July. “The quality of production, particularly of widely consumed articles, has considerably worsened during the last quarter, and this continues in almost all branches of industry” reported Pravda on 28 July. “Wastage is one of the most serious opponents [sic] of our Plan”; 25 per cent rejects in the Krasny Bogatyr boot factory, 25 per cent in the Znamia Truda tractor works, up to the “incredible level” of 53 per cent in the Ural-Separator factory in Perm (Pravda , 30 July). “The complaints of the peasants and kolkhozes on the subject of the intolerable production defects of machinery and agricultural implements are unceasing, and are even on the increase”, said the editorial in Trud on 4 August. “Let us ring the alarm bell for Uralneft”, proclaimed Izvestia over three columns on 11 August, “the construction of the first five stations is already threatened with disaster.” Every day the press publishes several columns of information under titles such as these: “Increase in Rejects is Striking at the Plan”, “Rejects Are Threatening to Interfere With Carrying Out the Financial-Industrial Plan” (Izvestia , 16 August). At the Dzerzhinsky factory in Bryansk “the wastage of steel has reached 50 or even 60 per cent, and 30 per cent for axles when it should be three to seven per cent” (Trud , 30 August). The Izvestia editorial for 6 September denounced the poor quality of all industrial products as prejudicial to “the vital interests of all sectors of the economy”. A committee presided over by Bukharin emphasised the frequency of cases where “production increase and the lowering of manufacturing costs are paid for by a decline in quality” (Trud , 11 September). The Workers and Peasants Inspectorate, supported by various higher organs, has also commented upon the drop in quality; thus the boots factory in Kostroma delivered 34 per cent defective merchandise (Pravda , 25 October); “in almost all the spheres of industry inspected, defective work went higher than 25 per cent, and often reached 50 per cent or more, instead of the established norm of from four to seven per cent” (Trud , 25 October). The October issue of Economicheskaya Obozrenie deflated the boast of overtaking prewar production by referring to some precise examples: for wellingtons, taking account of the quality, production said to be in excess of prewar is in fact only 48 per cent of that level; in textiles, the quality is 30 to 40 per cent worse; and similar examples abound. The Council of Labour and Defence admits a “sharp drop” in quality (coinciding with the first year of the Plan), and Trud for 27 December admitted that the phenomenon was a scourge that was lowering the consumption of the masses, and was gravely affecting industry.

It is impossible to estimate the total of losses due to poor quality, which is why a series of quotations is necessary to give an idea of the evil. Even the most basic production has become defective in the extreme: “a threatening growth of waste”, said Izvestia on 30 December; in the Yugostal factories, there was 14 per cent smelting wastage in November in place of the five per cent envisaged, 13 per cent for metal rolling in place of five per cent, and 43 per cent for rails in place of seven; “this is creating a threatening situation for factories that are using cast iron, steel and iron”. The Railways Inspectorate in Ekonomicheskaya Obozrenie in December pointed out that rails guaranteed for 10 years were used up at the end of the year, and that sleepers broke in hundreds and thousands in the first year that they were used; an enormous mass of “defective” parts had to be sent back when they were received; some factories reached inadmissible figures of between 70 and 80 per cent defects; in 1927/28 it estimated that 387 derailments were due to axle fractures, and this number went up in the following year: 256 in six months, without counting other less serious breakdowns. There was the same defective production of tubes, boilers and sheet metal (Ekonomicheskaya Zhizn , 4 February 1930); in textiles, the “snags” varied from 40 to 63 per cent, depending on the trusts. And it goes from bad to worse.

Poor quality means a corresponding drop in real quantity, an increase in manufacturing costs, an increase in expenses, and a lowering of wages. Sooner or later these results must be reflected in the indices. All the same, as far as the costs of production are concerned, nobody has dared to talk about success: it would have to be admitted that the programme has not been realised, on one occasion it is said to have fallen short by about two, on another of three to seven per cent, but after what we have seen earlier we know the reliability of such figures. With the substantive increase in the volume produced, the result obtained for the manufacturing cost is nil, and perhaps even negative. The increase in the productivity of labour, obtained by increasing pressure upon the worker, an implacable hyper-exploitation that will inevitably soon have to be paid for, is really fictional as revealed by the quality of the products and, like any excessive physical effort not compensated for by rest and refreshment, will result in a diminution of muscular strength. Lowering wages will also contribute to this fall back. Quoting the official figures, whose fallacious character we have sufficiently shown, Rakovsky has been able to show for the first three months of the Plan a nominal wage increase of 7.1 per cent, but an increase in the general price index of 8.5 per cent, and in retail prices of 19.3 per cent. Real wages have therefore gone down ; but prices did not stop rising in the second three months, and wages did not stop going down. When the Central Office of Statistics proved from the figures, that wages went down in 1929, its experts were… purely and simply recalled. “These last years”, said Molotov, “in different organs, keeping wage statistics, an openly Menshevik tendency [sic] prevailed, to show that in the course of this year the wages of Soviet workers has gone down.” But further on, he also admits that this was “also the opinion of some of our comrades” (Report to the Moscow Regional Conference, 14 September). In the Ekonomicheskaya Zhizn for 15 October, Maimin admitted:

We cannot and must not hide the serious state of affairs that the heightened rhythms of construction have to a great extent been reached at the cost of enormous pressure on the strength of the working class and upon all our material resources. It is sufficient to show that while overtaking the plan of production, we have not achieved the intended increase in the real wages of the proletariat.

Molotov pretends that real wages have gone up by between two and three per cent: obviously he can, because for the moment he can get away with anything. He will no longer be embarrassed by the Office of Statistics which has recently been suppressed by decree . But this will not improve the lot of the worker, nor the conditions of production. Nor should we forget that with the third loan for industrialisation, almost a thousand million roubles have been extorted from the workers against their will in 1929, without talking about the two “days of industrialisation” for which work was not paid, to the great advantage of industry. To appreciate the “voluntary” nature of these impositions and stoppages, it is sufficient to recall that the wages of the majority of workers are—in Moscow, where they reach the maximum—of between 45 and 60 roubles a month, and for highly skilled workers between 80 and 120 roubles; only a small minority of the highly qualified can make for themselves between 120 and 150 roubles, by piece work. Since the real value of the rouble is between three and four francs, everyone can understand with no effort at all the “enthusiasm” with which the workers welcomed the loan being issued. Molotov envisaged a rise in wages of nine per cent for the second year on condition that the productivity of labour went up by 23 per cent… Need we say any more?

From the financial point of view, the annual programme has been largely overtaken, but in what sense? In place of the projected 200 million issue of paper money, it required 671 million, more than triple, or more than half of the total laid down for the whole five years of 1250 million. In one year, the rouble-chervonets has lost some 30 or 40 per cent of its purchasing power on the free market. The price index has risen by 32 per cent: for agricultural produce alone, by 53 per cent. Cereal prices have gone up by 42 per cent in private trade instead of the 18 per cent projected by the Plan. Is there any need to emphasise the perspectives opened by these figures? “No economic catastrophe has taken place as a result of exceeding the issue of money. Is it not clear that new economic laws have begun to come into play…?” wrote Maimin (Ekonomicheskaya Zhizn , 1 October). No catastrophe appears to exist until the catastrophe happens, but the reality of the catastrophe nonetheless exists, and the workers crushed under the weight of the Plan are obviously not going to agree with a functionary who is predisposed to hold forth on their misery. And as far as we are concerned, what is clear to us is that none of the figures put forward to justify the Plan are truthful, with such a depreciation in the currency and such a rise in prices. And that, as far as new economic laws are concerned, those that are actually operating are the force of inertia and the physical and moral exhaustion of a worn-out people.

The Plan has not been put into operation as regards the training of staff, since “the training of new staff, engineers and technicians should be industry’s central task”, according to Kraval[41] (Izvestia , 10 October). In agriculture, the same task “has never been so urgent nor so necessary as it is today” (Izvestia , 10 July). The latter article emphasised:

But what have we done about it? Nothing, or nearly nothing. We need at least 2161 agronomist organisers for large soviet farms, but the High School has provided just 130 of them, that is, 6.5 per cent. We need 4660 agronomist organisers for collective farms, and the school as it is organised now has not produced one of them…

And these figures came out before the massive collectivisation of the last six months. They also need 2618 mechanical engineers, and the school has only provided 784. Other corresponding indications follow. “How can the cultural Five Year Plan be fulfilled?”, asked Izvestia on 4 September. And here is the reply:

For the year 1930 that is about to begin [that is, the financial year 1929/30] for the sovkhozes and kolkhozes of the Russian and Ukrainian republics alone we need 1600 engineers, 10 000 agronomists, 7300 intermediate trained agronomic personnel, 10 000 technicians and 143 700 skilled workers. This is an absolutely real need, not in three or five years, but from now. What has been done to train this technical staff in the course of the year that has gone by? Literally, nothing.

That is clear—literally nothing. And now: “This is how the situation is, not only in agriculture, but in general for all technical staff.” And the need for them does not cease to grow. “The situation continues to be all too serious”, said Pravda on the same subject (15 November). In the RSFSR (Russia properly so-called and Siberia) alone, the Commissariat of Agriculture estimates what is necessary to achieve the Plan in the rural economy—84 176 highly qualified men, 192 512 men with intermediate qualifications, and 708 841 men with lower qualifications; the actual figures respectively are 14 094, 22 618 and less than 100 000 (Izvestia , 17 January 1930). It needs something other than Leninist rhetoric to solve this problem.

But where the “success” of the Plan surpasses all hopes is in the collectivisation of agriculture. We have seen what it is in the area sown, the yield per hectare, the harvest per head of the population, and stockbreeding and in agricultural prices. Let us say a little about the kolkhozes. Now at the start of the second quarter of the Plan, the official point of view was expressed by Rykov in these terms:

It is therefore quite obvious what an enormous importance attaches now and will continue to attach to the general incentive for an increase also in the individual output of goods, by the promotion of the individual farms of the small and middle peasants. (“Report to the Congress of Soviets of the Province of Moscow”, Inprecorr , 24 April 1929)[42]

This idea was to be found in all the government documents, party and soviet resolutions, etc. The programme of rural collectivisation was relatively modest in the Plan; 564 000 farms must be organised into kolkhozes in 1928/29, where there had been 445 000 in the previous year. Apart from that, as Rykov said, it was proposed to encourage the individual producers for the market . But disregarding the programme, 1.04 million farms were collectivised, representing 4.3 million hectares, compared to the 1.4 million hectares collectivised during the preceding year. “This unheard-of rhythm, overtaking the most optimistic forecasts, proves that along with the poorest farms, the principal mass of the middling farms has entered the movement after being convinced in practice of the advantages of collectivised agriculture”, says the Resolution of the Party Central Committee, November 1929. And this “unheard-of rhythm” was nothing compared to what happened next: the tenfold and more collectivisation of what was left over. It was this “unheard-of” rhythm that so strongly impressed Messrs Scheffer, Farbman, Louzon and the Left Opposition. In fact this rhythm has been shown to be so “unheard-of” that it is difficult to follow and record it. According to Grinko’s pamphlet devoted to the Plan, the area collectivised in 1927/28 (sovkhozes and kolkhozes together) was of 2.3 million hectares, barely two per cent of all cultivation and providing 4.5 per cent of agricultural production, and 7.5 per cent of the cereals marketed; the Plan envisaged for 1933 is to be of 27 million hectares, of which five million are for the sovkhozes, representing 18 per cent of the farms, 17 per cent of the produce, 20 per cent of the cereal production, and 43 per cent of the cereals marketed; six million families, 20 million people, in other words, must therefore be included in the collectivised sector, having the use of 170 000 tractors at the end of the five years. The control figures for 1929/30 had to enlarge the programme, on account of the “unheard-of” rhythm: to five million hectares of sovkhozes and 15 million hectares of kolkhozes (in place of the six million envisaged), and therefore already 60 per cent of the Plan for the second year; so that there were 89 000 kolkhozes in 1929/30, whereas 80 000 in all had been envisaged for 1933. But the rhythm became more and more unheard-of, and the sorcerers” apprentices of the Politbureau and Gosplan had every eight days to revise upwards their comments the previous week. It is useless to follow them here step by step: to cut it short, let us note the most recent forecasts. Yaroslavsky envisages “the possibility of definitively liquidating the individual peasant economy in the course of the years to come”, and forecasts that “in the economic year 1930/31 the problems of collectivising the majority of peasant agriculture could be resolved, from the complete collectivisation of wheatfields as important as those of the Lower and Middle Volga and the northern Caucasus, so that at the latest, in the spring of 1932, the total collectivisation of the backward wheat areas could be finished” (Inprecorr , 22 January 1930). Grinko announced in Izvestia for 1 February 1930 that in 1930/31 “at least three quarters of all peasant farms will be collectivised”, Izvestia for 11 February recorded the collectivisation of eight million farms and 50 million hectares of tillage in 91 700 kolkhozes…

How do we account for this “unheard-of” rhythm, and to what social and economic phenomena do they correspond? Did the mass of the poor and middle peasantry really “enter the movement after being convinced in practice of the advantages of collective agriculture”? It is understandable that the poor peasants, with their 163 to 276 roubles of annual income per family, their state of semi-starvation, and their permanent insecurity, should come into the kolkhozes in order to ensure the favour and support of the state—credits, advances on sowing, manure, machinery, etc—no convincing of the advantages of collective agriculture is necessary for that. But the middle peasants? What miracle has provoked their rapid conversion, since the practical demonstration of the advantages of collective agriculture has obviously not been made? How could they have been convinced in 1929 of the advantages of a tractor promised for 1933, the effects of which they had never seen? And why did they come into the kolkhozes while killing off their cattle and getting rid of their possessions? For they slaughtered their horned cattle en masse , and draught animals, and liquidated their stock, instead of bringing it to support the collective: these facts are indisputable, confirmed by a law improvised in haste to punish with prison peasants convicted of such acts. There is only one possible answer to this question: the peasants submitted to collectivisation constrained and forced by ruin and misery caused by the state’s fiscal policy, and under administrative and police pressure. The crushing charges of direct and indirect taxes, taxes in corn at a price five or six times lower than the market price, requisitions and confiscations of harvests, socio-political suspicions based upon the numbers of their head of cattle, arbitrary repression and state violence herded the peasant mass into collectivisation, considered both as a temporary refuge and a legitimate means of defence. The extermination of the animals, with its disastrous consequences—a crisis of draft animals, a crisis of butcher’s meat, a natural manure crisis bearing upon the yield per hectare, and a future crisis of leather and hides—is at one and the same time a means of escaping the label of kulak, a way of realising their threatened assets and an underhand way of replying to the party’s blows. Even a great proportion of the kulaks has come into the collectives, which illustrates its socialist nature all too well, requiring strict measures to get rid of them. The massive exodus of Swedish and German peasants and Jewish colonists, the flight of Cossack families into Persia and China, the crossing over of Karelian cultivators to Finland and of White Russians to Poland under fire from the frontier guards have shown to even the most blind the indescribable suffering of the working peasants. No religious or other propaganda would ever have forced them to leave soil made fertile by the work of several generations, to abandon homes fashioned by their own hands, and to break with customs already centuries old, unless unavoidable misery had driven them to it. And for something to excuse the whole of this startling episode, the state had recourse to its eternal expedient: the spectre of the kulak. All who do not instantly fall into line with Stalin’s changing policy come under the same social descriptive label, even the most genuine proletarians and the most proven Communists: the kulak is omnipresent and even infects the Politbureau and Sovnarkom. But in fact there are peasants of all classes among the migrating families, and if the percentage of previously better-off peasants is higher than in the rural population in general, this is in line with the usual qualities of colonists, who are more sober and better educated than other workers. The civil war prosecuted against the kulaks indubitably involves the middle peasants, and paralyses the most productive agricultural enterprises; it has taken on the aspect of physical repression that has nothing in common with Marxist politics, giving rise to a jacquerie[43] murderous on both sides that is disastrous for the future of the revolution. An “unheard-of” rhythm? No doubt. But towards what?

Kolkhozes are not all of the same sort. At the end of 1929, there were about five per cent organised in communes, 40 to 50 per cent in cartels, and the rest in unions of collective labour. Their main trait in common was to expect everything from the state, instead of supplying it. It is impossible to know how many are fictitious and purely parasitic. A specialist who enjoyed considerable authority, Puschel, declared at the All-Russian Congress of Kolkhozes: “The majority of these kolkhozes, do not deceive yourselves, are destined to die.” They lacked resources, manure, cattle, machines, specialists, and extreme disorder prevailed there: “Many kolkhozes are set up in the spring to obtain credits, seeds and machines, and then liquidate themselves in the autumn.” Molotov openly admitted that “there are a great number of collective farms prepared to accept all forms of aid from the state and at the same time to speculate in their own grain, so breaking the fixed prices” (Report to the Moscow Regional Conference, 14 September). One particularly revealing fact about the “socialist” character of the famous collectivised sector: at the beginning of 1929, out of 311 000 party members in the countryside, there were only a total of 13 000 Communists in the kolkhozes. We are therefore expected to believe that tens of thousands of ignorant and alcoholic peasants are more conscious of the benefits of socialism than the party élite itself. Are we now to be told that the progress of mechanisation in 1929 has determined a mass conversion? Molotov admitted, in the report already quoted, that “what is most important for collectivisation is a strong technical base. Now with regard to that we are still very weak.” It appears that the production of tractors will be considerable in two or three years” time, greater than in the United States; but supposing that to be true, it does not explain an economic and social change in 1929 that takes on the importance of a fresh revolution. At present, the quota of tractors is still hardly numerous, and more than half of them need repairs, whereas there is a lack of spare parts and mechanics. Moreover, we get lost in the number of tractors they have, that they will have, that they ought to have, that they don”t have, which need repairing, which have been, which are going to be, and which are not going to be, etc. It is still the case that the kolkhozes at present have at the most 50 000 tractors at their disposal; the lack of training is necessarily paid for in breakages and setbacks; moreover, they need ploughs with multiple blades, seed drills, etc, and motor fuel and oil to make them move and maintain them, and specialists to keep them going; the kolkhozes lack particular seeds, chemical fertiliser, and dead and live assets; they are still for the most part short of agronomists, specialists and qualified organisers, and the state cannot automatically devote financial and technical resources to them in proportion to their dizzy growth. Without prejudging the future, it is certain that the existing kolkhozes have not been able to convince the rural population by their superiority in production. We should also admit that the price of kolkhoz produce is generally higher than the price fixed by the state: from which come the attempts to avoid supplying the state market, in spite of the “contraction” (purchase of harvests on the spot) by searching for more rewarding prices on the free market. The work undertaken by the kolkhozes to put up buildings in common is extremely burdensome; Yakovlev, citing a model attempt at collectivisation, had to mention the cost of building cattle stalls: “The stalls cost 180 roubles per cow. No collectivisation, and no resources of the peasantry or of the state can support that”, whereas in the German colonies the cost is 15 or 20 roubles, ten times less (Izvestia , 24 January 1930). Even if they tripled the subsidies—they are talking about a thousand million roubles, as opposed to about 350 million—allocated this year by the Plan to this sort of panic collectivisation, the essential problems of transforming the agricultural system will not be solved.

It is difficult to find out what is happening in the kolkhozes and what surprises are being dreamed up in the shadows, and what fresh obstacles are soon going to arise before the state. In the present climate in the USSR, and with the prevailing information media, essential facts are only revealed if they can no longer be hidden. Information relating to the countryside is generally most sparse. “We still do not at the moment possess a serious statistical base in this area”, said Molotov when talking about peasant farms and cereal cultivation in particular (Report to the Moscow Regional Conference, 14 September). And there are additional complications with the kolkhozes. Molotov goes on to report that the Krasny Meliorator Kolkhoz, which passes for “a model farm”, “is in the hands of a Socialist-Revolutionary kulak group”; it includes six ex-NEPmen, a former rich landowner, a former real estate owner, seven kulaks, a former estate owner, an ex-policeman, etc”. The press has published quite numerous reports of the same sort: kulaks dominate the kolkhozes, bedniaks[44] are eliminated or exploited, and there is illicit trade between kolkhozes and kulaks or speculators. No statistic can enlighten us about the importance of this “deviation” on the part of the kolkhozes. The proportion of kulaks evidently varies depending on the type of collective: cooperative or communal. An article in Pravda for 11 November, “The Class Struggle in the Kolkhozes”, gives us an idea of the extreme complexity of the internal processes, with regional variations, that differentiate between kolkhozes. It identifies tendencies, collusion, new ways of exploiting the poor, the use of public finance for private ends, how hostile elements conceal themselves, “infiltration” in order to take over the leadership or undermine the enterprise, etc. The party is organising groups of poor peasants intended to counteract the former rich or well-off peasants, again after a fashion responding to one of the demands of the Left Opposition.[45] In some regions, kulaks, or those labelled as such, have been expelled. Fresh problems are being posed every day, and are nowhere near being solved; the sharing of the common product, the relations between families and those who remain single, work discipline, clashes with the local soviets, manpower surplus where the new machines are already at work, etc. (According to Chayanov,[46] the mechanisation of agricultural work has reduced manpower in America by a factor of 10 to 14 times.) The immediate future of the kolkhozes is therefore very unclear. Their present form bears no resemblance to any prognostications; they now appear to be developing towards some sort of inferior sovkhoz, state farms to which the state is powerless to supply the necessary material assistance, the wages of whose members will be at risk; the offices of the commissariats in charge assign to them by order the area that has to be sown, what has to be sown, what harvest they have to get, the surplus that has to be delivered at fixed price, and what seed has to be kept back. Penal and coercive measures make up the rest. The Plan never envisaged this. And nothing allows us to give the credit for such “successes” to “the construction of socialism”.

*  *  *

Thus, in no respects has the Plan been realised in accordance with the forecasts of the first year that in any way allow us to forecast successes for the other four. Is the second year going to reduce, or to increase, the setbacks and disproportions, the development of which will finally put in question the regime’s existence, or force it to develop towards capitalism?

Judging by the results of the first three months of the exercise, from October to January, the programme is not going to be fulfilled again this time, at any rate. The Soviet press is full of warnings denouncing production delays and setbacks, indicating alarming symptoms of various crises. The prescribed quantities have not been reached in the whole of industry, in spite of repeated appeals, threats to factory managers and sanctions against workers. Quality continues to drop: “In spite of strict directives from the government and the Supreme Council of the Economy, production quality has not only not improved, but in a series of cases has even continuously worsened.” (Izvestia , 13 January 1930) The lack of technical staff is more and more making itself felt: “The problem of training staff has lately taken on an even more serious character than previously.” (editorial, Izvestia , 24 January) The paper money issue has already overtaken the figure envisaged for the entire year. Retail prices do not stop rising, in the cooperatives as well as on the market (editorial, Izvestia , 8 January). The cooperatives are badly supplied, and in working-class centres such as Kharkov, for example, the consumer must buy 40 per cent of his products from the private trader at exorbitant prices; meat is often sold at a 120 per cent mark-up (Izvestia , 17 January). There are “extremely unsatisfactory results” as regards lowering manufacturing prices (Izvestia , 22 January). In these conditions, real wages cannot but get lower. We have decided to limit ourselves voluntarily in these quotations, but it would be easy to publish entire pages of them. The Central Committee of the party has had to launch a personal appeal to encourage the enthusiasm of Communist activists and their demands on the workers (Pravda , 25 January). The “unheard-of” rhythm of agricultural collectivisation has already revealed the marked insufficiency of the spring sowing in the countryside and the lack of tractors and other machinery for kolkhozes deprived of part of their previous stock, living or dead, the continual reduction in herds and also small livestock, etc. Kolkhozes continue to be assigned so many “tasks” that they do not know where to begin. But Yakovlev, the new All-Russian Commissar for Agriculture, happily supplies this irrefutable argument: “Those kolkhoz leaders who do not fulfil their quotas will be summarily dismissed and hailed before the courts.” There is prison for failing to acquire seeds, prison for killing a calf, prison for failing to pay tax, prison for concealing sacks of rye, and prison for being sceptical about “Socialism in One Country”. And if prison is not enough to convince, more energetic measures are available. Coercion, repression, extortion—these are the cures for all ills. Every day, Soviet newspapers supply us with many bloody examples of the progress of the alliance between town and country: assassination, arson and capital punishment. As successes multiply, the food rations of every worker are going down, the general misery is becoming harder to bear, and the air is becoming less and less breathable.

To arrive at this, the so-called “state of the workers and peasants” has neglected no resource, nor flinched in the face of any measure, exceptional or permanent. “Shock brigades” in industry, “socialist emulation” and “the blackboard”[47]—the pillory—have forced the workers to produce to the extreme limit of their strength. And in agriculture, “workers” brigades” and then 25 000 Communists or sympathisers sent into the provinces by the party and the trade unions have imbued hesitant peasants, by means of the most rapid methods, with faith in the kolkhozes—recalcitrants being treated as kulaks and their livelihoods confiscated. The mass expropriation of the well-off peasants, improvised and carried out by brute force, has provided the kolkhozes with part of the stock they were short of, and which the Plan never provided for, along with a harvest deficit. In the towns “continuous production” with a five-day week that was treated with contempt when Larin proposed it at the Fifth Congress of Soviets, and which was then rapidly decided by decree on 27 August, has provided a production surplus not envisaged by the Plan, resulting in the more rapid use of raw materials. All these measures, dictated by circumstances, and adopted under the impulse of urgent necessity, show that the leaders did not know where they were going when they decided to carry out the Five Year Plan, and are not in control of the machine that they have set in motion. Even the successes on which they pride themselves in reality testify against the possibility of applying the Plan. A momentarily advantageous expedient is paid for a few weeks later at a high price—as all of it tends towards intensifying the physical effort of the proletariat without compensating it for the energy expended. Other like measures could correct the curves of the production graphs once, but not twice—like the continuous week. Some of the improvisations get over temporary difficulties by raising up impassable obstacles in the future—like the measures of confiscating in the countryside. Hence the Plan every day shows itself more and more unattainable. Every day those who framed it show that they are less capable of understanding their duty. To convince yourself of this, it is sufficient to realise how the NEP was unthinkingly and mechanically suppressed in its essentials.

All the official statements of 1929 maintained the principle of the NEP and condemned the murmurings of the Right Opposition warning of the danger of a return to “War Communism”. “The talk about a return to war communism, and about an abolition of the New Economic Policy, is ridiculous and unfounded, for by now, in the eighth year of the NEP, it is obvious to everyone that we must approach socialism along the path of the New Economic Policy ”, says Bauman (“Report to the Assembly of Party Workers”, Inprecorr , 29 May 1929).[48] “The NEP is serious, and for a long time. The Party has not the slightest reason to alter it, or to suppress it”, wrote Krumin[49] (Pravda , 4 August 1929). In a commemorative article on the death of Lenin on 21 January 1930, Krzhizhanovsky, with a remarkable sense of timing, is still quoting the following words of Lenin: “How do we get to socialism? … By no other way than the NEP.” (Inprecorr , 22 January 1930)[50] By this time, all the practical decisions taken as regards peasant producers of grain for the market had moved towards liquidating the NEP, and they were already boosting “dekulakising the countryside” and then “liquidating the kulaks as a class” (“Decision of the Party Central Committee”, Izvestia , 6 January 1930), so that these decisions were already ahead of the speeches. For several months, legal private trade in grain had been forbidden in practice, and exchange had given way to more or less open confiscation. Well-off and middle peasants were already tasting the fruits of the new policy. Today, dekulakisation has been actively carried out on a grand scale: it consists of the total confiscation of the property of any peasant rightly or wrongly classed among the kulaks, and we can well imagine what sort of settling of accounts local feelings and resentments may lead to; as for the rest, any medium peasant hostile to collectivisation is treated as a kulak and quickly dekulakised—completely plundered, in other words. Ruined and destitute families are hounded out of the province and region, and condemned to wander about until they find a deserted place on which to settle, since the kolkhozes are from now on closed to them. Yakovlev condescended to point out that those who had been expropriated would be sent to Siberia and the North and could work in the forests (Izvestia , 24 January 1930). None of all this had been envisaged by the Plan, and it is not a question of precise details. But throwing industrialisation into gear as is interpreted by this Plan obeys the logic of its own internal laws, and leads to extreme consequences. The latest to date is the suppression of private trade, now in the process of coming about. A decree of the Politbureau rescinding the NEP is not needed when its abolition is realised due to the force of circumstances, once the line has been adopted. However, in an exceptional effort at rising to theoretical thinking, Stalin had the courage to declare:

If we adhere to NEP it is because it serves the cause of socialism. When it ceases to serve the cause of socialism we shall get rid of it. Lenin said that the NEP had been introduced in earnest and for a long time. But he never said it had been introduced for all time. (Speech to the Marxist agrarian students, Izvestia , 29 December 1929)[51]

In other words, the NEP has exhausted its usefulness, let us pass over to a new stage, that of the direct changeover to socialism. And Stalin indicates in this way his intention of bypassing the NEP: “Now, as you see, we have the material basis which enables us to replace the kulak output by the output of the collective farms and state farms.”[52] This material basis is the present Soviet economy, with its backward industry, its worn-out equipment, its scarcity of manufactured goods and of all types of food, its depreciated rouble, its reduced foreign trade, and its unrealisable Five Year Plan. Industrialisation of the Stalin type still leads to the suppression of the NEP, despite no doubt sincere but blind denials, and Stalin has had to justify this fait accompli by falling back on a worthless justification. This is a remarkable confirmation of Lenin’s remark about the economic machine of the state “not going quite in the direction the man at the wheel imagines”.[53]

Even before the NEP was introduced, in the middle of the period of “war communism”, Lenin expressed himself in these terms on the attitude to be taken up towards the peasants: “We shall not tolerate any use of force in respect of the middle peasants . Even in respect of the rich peasants we do not say as resolutely as we do of the bourgeoisie—absolute expropriation of the rich peasants and the kulaks.” And he added, knowing his milieu and his political personnel: “Theoretically, that question has been solved; but we know perfectly well from our own experience that there is a difference between solving a problem theoretically and putting the solution into practice.” (“Report to the Eighth Party Congress”, 18-23 March 1919)[54] We obviously have the right to revise Lenin and the party’s resolutions, but we must call things by their names. Lenin subsequently wrote:

It was the war and the ruin that forced us into War Communism. It was not, and could not be, a policy that corresponded to the economic tasks of the proletariat. It was a makeshift. The correct policy of the proletariat exercising its dictatorship in a small-peasant country is to obtain grain in exchange for the manufactured goods the peasant needs. That is the only kind of food policy that corresponds to the tasks of the proletariat, and we can strengthen the foundations of socialism and lead to its complete victory… One way is to try to prohibit entirely, to put the lock on all development of private, non-state exchange, that is to say, trade, that is to say, capitalism, which is inevitable with millions of small producers. But such a policy would be foolish and suicidal for the party that tried to apply it. It would be foolish because it is economically impossible. It would be suicidal because the party that tried to apply it would meet with inevitable disaster. (The Tax in Kind , March 1921)[55]

We are of the same opinion, not because Lenin said it, but because we thought it without Lenin, and we are quoting Lenin to support our own thinking, as opposed to those Leninists who appeal to him in order to avoid doing their own thinking. That is why we have taken up a position against the Five Year Plan from the time we found out about it, and previously rejected the proposals of the Left Opposition which would end in a violent conflict with the peasants producing for the grain market before the Soviet state was in a position to dispense with their surplus production.

How has Stalin come to convince himself of the existence of a Soviet material basis sufficient to finish with petty private production within two or three years? This is where we come upon one of the main effects of the political, bureaucratic and police regime of which he is the embodiment. Between Stalin and Soviet reality there is a screen of five million officials. The optimism emanating from this relatively satisfied caste is expressed without any possible contradiction by its accredited spokesman. Stalin can only listen to the echo of his own voice, which means nothing at all. He has completely forgotten what he was saying five years earlier, before he became the absolute dictator by means of the complete abdication of the once Communist Party:

Either we… allow the non-party peasants and workers to criticise us, or we shall be criticised by means of revolts. The revolt in Georgia was criticism. The revolt in Tambov was also criticism. The revolt in Kronstadt—was that not criticism? … Either we abandon this official optimism and official approach to the matter… and allow ourselves to be criticised by the non-party workers and peasants, who, after all, are the ones to feel the effects of our mistakes, or we do not do this, and discontent will accumulate and grow, and we shall have criticism in the form of revolts… (Speech in Moscow, Inprecorr , no 10, 1925)[56]

Today, he thinks that with the omniscience of the GPU and the sovereign virtue of the death penalty he has a solution for all social difficulties—and he himself dictates the congratulations that he makes his subjects send him. In the same way, he first of all deceived himself about the Plan, before being deceived by his experts, and then deceiving his subordinates. Here is a particularly striking example, taken from the pamphlet What Is The Five Year Plan? . Just picture to yourself the Hall of the Great Theatre, well chosen for such a scenario, full of those subordinate functionaries called “delegates” looking open-mouthed at the podium on which the miracle of the Plan is being electrically demonstrated:

The contents of the Plan were explained, in a most impressive fashion, to the delegates to the Fifth Soviet Congress of the Soviet Union in the spring of 1929. Krzhizhanovsky, Chairman of the Economic Planning Commission of the Soviet Union, gave the report on the Five Year Plan. On the platform, next to the speaker’s table, was hung a large map of the Soviet Union. When he began to speak of the number of new power stations which would be erected in the course of the next five years, small electric lamps were illuminated on the map at the places where they were to be built. When Krzhizhanovsky spoke of the foundries which it was proposed to erect, other lamps were lighted; the same happened when he dealt with the new machinery factories, coal mines, oilfields, textile mills, chemical concerns, etc, which are in the process of construction or which will be constructed. More and more glowing points of light decorated the map. When he reached the great new state farms, which are to be established in the forthcoming years, the dark areas of the steppes, the waste and uninhabited regions of Soviet Russia, began to glow with life. When that part of the report referring to the gigantic building programme of the Five Year Plan was finished, the whole map was one mass of light, sparkling and glowing with thousands of gaily-coloured lamps, red, white, green, blue, etc. The solemnity of that moment can only be compared with the events of November 1917. When Krzhizhanovsky pointed to that brilliant map and said, quite softly, as if he were making a casual statement, “Here it is, this is what we fought for”, a wave of unprecedented enthusiasm swept over the entire audience. The storm of applause thundered through the hall for fully a quarter of an hour. Tears started to the eyes of the reporter, and for a few moments he broke off his report. It was one of the great historical moments of the proletarian revolution.[57]

Such are the music-hall procedures in use at a “Soviet Congress” supposed to be representing the Russian people deliberating over its future. This is how a “Five Year Plan” is voted on. There is also an entire pedantic literature, for the sake of sociological failures devoted to servile propaganda needs, where it is only a question of dynamics, rhythms, coefficients, specific weights and other dialectical processes… But there is less and less bread, and there are no longer any freedoms. “Before the revolution”, wrote Grinko, “about five million inhabitants out of 135 were eating more or less satisfactorily, and all the others dragged out a miserable existence.” The proportion has barely changed. And if, hypothetically, Soviet production should one day reach the level envisaged by the planners, the insufficiency of consumer purchasing power would force it to sell at a loss on a world market already fairly well saturated…

Should we say that for 12 years nothing has changed in Russia, and particularly in the structure of the economy in the course of these last years? It would be as useless to affirm it as to deny the consequences of capitalism while wholly condemning it in principle. The new monster factories and the giant electric plants are a tangible reality, and the Russian countryside of the future with its tractors and superphosphates will be different from the previous countryside with its wooden ploughs. Whatever opinion we have about the policy being followed, we must take account of the indelible traces it will leave. Humanity progresses through its catastrophes, and even war perfects the techniques of peace. But there are tractors and factories elsewhere than in the USSR, and no socialism. The question, therefore, is of knowing if these factories, and these tractors, are worth paying for at such a price, if a generation of proletarians has to be sacrificed for a result that is attainable in some other way, and if the road to socialism necessarily passes through the misery and enslavement of the proletariat. Does man exist for industry, or industry for man? And under the abstract pretext of working for the future, are we not for a long time compromising socialism’s future by making a hell for the workers in the here-and-now? We have here, alone in the whole of the International, until lately supported the proposal of the Left Opposition in the sense of industrialising the Soviet Union in accordance with an overall plan, and now, by the bitter irony of the way things have developed, we are once again the only people in the Communist movement to criticise a plan according to which factories can be built only on the bones of the peasants and machines lubricated with the workers” blood. We never thought of Russia’s progress towards socialism other than by the NEP, an economic compromise with a peasantry producing grain for the market, temporary concessions to foreign capital, active links with the world market, and soviet democracy as the political form of the labour dictatorship—until the time when state capitalism, national capital equipment, socialist accumulation, cooperation and the standard of living and culture had reached a level that allowed us to pass to a higher stage of socialisation. Industrialisation was possible with a rational economic policy of exploiting the natural resources, exporting raw materials and half-finished products, limited foreign concessions, an international policy that allowed borrowing and credit allowances, and a democratic internal policy, in the Communist sense of the word, favouring the growth of public education, collective consciousness and individual responsibility. In the place of this, we have a plan that implies building up industry at the expense of agriculture and at the cost of the deprivation, suffering and the enslavement of 150 million human beings sacrificed to an ill-founded hypothesis. Communism will be discredited for a quarter of a century, and the Bolshevik party in all its tendencies will bear the responsibility for it in the presence of the proletariat, and before history.

*  *  *

PS—While this issue of the Bulletin was at the printers, it was announced that the number of kolkhozes had gone up by 25 February to 96 700, bringing together 46 per cent of the peasant farms, and over 70 million hectares. Let us wait for the news of the harvest. The Soviet newspapers are reporting that a severe purge of the kolkhozes is under way, with the aim of evicting the better-off peasants. Everything in the Soviet Union changes rapidly, and its rulers have no idea of the next turn of events. They are now in turn elaborating a “Ten Year Plan” promising 20 million cars for 1940, as a substitute for bread for today. Operations are beginning for a new “loan” of 3000 million, under the slogan of “Let Us Realise the Five Year Plan in Four Years”; so 3000 million roubles are to be squeezed out of the workers and the labouring peasants on starvation wages and a derisory agricultural production.

Trotsky, on the other hand, has finally decided in the recently-appeared no 9 of his Bulletin to condemn the excesses indulged in by the leaders in their super-industrialisation as “economic adventurism” and an “ultra-leftist deviation” (sic).[58] For him to do this, the Soviet press has had to overflow with alarming warnings whose evidence has even influenced Stalin as regards agricultural collectivisation.[59] In this article, a sketch of a more important work that is to come, we find a surprising agreement of views with ours, and we may well ask, yet again, why and how these ideas can be both “Right” and “Left” at one and the same time? But quite serious disagreements remain: instead of demanding a reduction of the Plan to the proportions envisaged by his Platform of 1927, and of recognising the necessity for a modus vivendi [60] with the peasants producing grain for the market, of returning seriously and for a long time to Lenin’s policy as regards the peasantry, of projecting the substitution of constitutional order for permanent violence as the sole means of government, of condemning the manifold exactions carried out at the expense of the workers in town and country, of demanding for the masses the freedoms he only demands for his faction, of proposing practical measures of some use to public education, of thinking of an international policy that would allow the USSR to rely upon foreign economic and technical help, etc, Trotsky persists in considering the Plan as realisable with a different leadership—that of his faction—remaining indifferent towards raw humanity, and only dreaming of a different hand on the levers of command. We are still wide of the mark.


1.  LD Trotsky, “The Twelfth Anniversary of October”, 17 October 1929, Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1929 , New York, 1975, p366 (translator’s note).

2.  LD Trotsky, “Toward Capitalism or Socialism?”, 28 August 1925, The Challenge of the Left Opposition (1923-1925) , New York, 1975, p324 (translator’s note).

3.  LD Trotsky, “The Platform of the Left Opposition”, September 1927, The Challenge of the Left Opposition (1926-27) , New York, 1980, pp330-9 (translator’s note).

4.  Gleb Maximilianovich Krzhizhanovsky (1872-1959) was an old Bolshevik who was head of Gosplan. He fell under a cloud in the 1930s, but survived to be rehabilitated by Khrushchev shortly before his death (translator’s note).

5.  Christian Rakovsky, “The Politics of the Leadership and the Party Regime”, 1929, Selected Writings on Opposition in the USSR , London, 1980, p162. Christian Georgevich Rakovsky (1873-1941) was a veteran of the Romanian workers” movement, a friend of Trotsky, and a supporter of the Left Opposition, in whose Bulletin (no 7, 1929) this article appeared. He was included in the third Moscow Trial, sentenced to 20 years in jail, and later shot (translator’s note).

6.  Max Hoschiller (1884- ) was a French economist, the author of Le Mirage du soviétisme (Paris, 1921) (translator’s note).

7.  Paul Scheffer (1883-1963) was the Moscow correspondent of the Berliner Tageblatt (Berlin Daily News ). Cf LD Trotsky, “Radek and the Bourgeois Press”, September 1929, Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1929 , op cit, p261 (translator’s note).

8.  James Negley Farson (1890-1960) was an American journalist, the author of Seeing Red: Today in Russia (London, 1930) (translator’s note).

9.  Michael S Farbman (1880-1933), an American writer, was the correspondent of the Economist , Manchester Guardian and Observer in Russia. He was especially disliked by the regime for his book on the struggle for power in the RCP(B) in the early 1920s, After Lenin: The New Phase in Russia (London, 1924). However, he subsequently wrote approvingly of the First Five Year Plan, denying that forced labour was used (translator’s note).

10.  Arthur Feiler (1879-1942) was a German economist, the author of The Experiment of Bolshevism (London, 1930) (translator’s note).

11.  Philip Henry Kerr, later the Marquis of Lothian (1882-1940), was a Liberal statesman, and a supporter of the League of Nations. He was generally very critical of the Soviet regime (translator’s note).

12.  Albert Aftalion (1874-) was a French professor of Law (translator’s note).

13.  Adolf Grabowsky (1880-1969) was a German legal and political writer (translator’s note).

14.  Robert Louzon (1882-1976), a veteran socialist and a founder member of the French Communist Party, was a supporter of the Left Opposition abroad until he developed differences with Trotsky over Russian control of the Chinese East Asian Railway. He edited La Révolution Prolétarienne from 1925 onwards. Cf Robert Louzon, China: Three Thousand Years of History, Fifty Years of Revolution , Socialist Platform, 1998, pp i-ii (translator’s note).

15.  Ivar Tenissovich Smilga (1892-1938) was an Old Bolshevik who took part in the October Revolution and the Finnish and Russian Civil Wars, then worked in the state economic apparatus. He went over to Stalin in 1928, but was later arrested and executed without trial (translator’s note).

16.  Their declaration of capitulation was published in Pravda on 13 July 1929. Cf I Deutscher, The Prophet Outcast , Oxford, 1974, p74.

17.  Ivan Nikitich Smirnov (1881-1936), a Bolshevik since 1903, was at one time secretary of the Left Opposition. He capitulated to Stalin in 1929, but later tried to organise an oppositional bloc. He was executed after the first Moscow Trial. Mikhail Boguslavsky (1886-1937) was an old Bolshevik who supported the Democratic Centralists, and then the Left Opposition. He went over to Stalin in 1929, but was executed after the second Moscow Trial. Beloborodov capitulated to Stalin after being deported. Vagarchak Arutinovich Ter-Vaganian (1893-1936) had been editor of Under the Banner of Marxism , the magazine of the Communist Youth, and was a supporter of the Joint Opposition. After capitulating to Stalin, he also took part in the oppositional bloc, and also perished after the first Moscow Trial. Sergei Vitalievich Mrachkovsky (1888-1936) was an old Bolshevik who played an important part in the revolution and the Civil War. After being organiser of the Left Opposition, he left along with Smirnov in 1929. He was also executed after the first Moscow Trial. Yakov N Drobnis (1890-1937), a hero of the Revolution and the Civil War, was a member of the Democratic Centralists and then of the Left Opposition. He was executed after the second Moscow Trial (translator’s note).

18.  Lev Semionovich Sosnovsky (1886-1937) was one of the Bolsheviks” most popular journalists, and a staunch supporter of the Left Opposition. His capitulation to Stalin in 1934 did not prevent him from being shot not long afterwards (translator’s note).

19.  Souvarine was being rather premature here. Rakovsky’s lengthy article “The Five Year Plan in Crisis”, written in mid-1930 and published in the Bulletin of the Opposition , no 25/26 in 1931, provided a strong critique of the running of the plan. It can be read in Critique , no 13, 1981, pp13-53 (translator’s note).

20.  V Kossior, M Okudzhava and C Rakovsky, “Declaration of August 1929”, in Rakovsky, Selected Writings , op cit, pp138-9 (translator’s note).

21.  LD Trotsky, “An Open Letter to the Bolshevik-Leninists Who Signed the August 22 Declaration”, 15 September 1929, Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1929 , op cit, pp326-7 (translator’s note).

22.  LD Trotsky, “The Twelfth Anniversary of October”, 17 October 1929, Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1929 , op cit, pp366-7 (translator’s note).

23.  Op cit, p362 (translator’s note).

24.  Nikolai Alexandrovich Uglanov (1886-193?) was an old Bolshevik and a veteran of the civil war who rose to prominence as an opponent of “Trotskyism”, and dominated the party organisation in Moscow. He was removed from the leadership for supporting Bukharin in 1930. Moisei Frumkin (1879-1939), also a supporter of Bukharin, was an official in the Commissariat of Foreign Trade and Finance (translator’s note).

25.  Souvarine is probably referring to Bukharin’s “Notes of an Economist” and “The Theory of "Organised Economic Disorder"”, published in Pravda in September 1928 and June 1929. Both were veiled attacks on Stalin’s economic policies. See NI Bukharin, Selected Writings on the State and the Transition to Socialism , Nottingham, 1982, pp301-51 (translator’s note).

26.  AB Maimin was a leading official in the Ministry of Finance in the 1930s and editor of Ekonomicheskaya Zhizn , which became the official organ of the Council of Labour and Defence in 1921. Cf VI Lenin, “Letter to the Editors of Ekonomicheskaya Zhizn ”, 1 September 1921, Collected Works , Volume 33, op cit, pp36-8. Maimin was accused during a purge in 1933 of desertion during the Civil War and of being a supporter of Trotsky in 1923 (translator’s note).

27.  Genrikh Abramovich Kozlov (1901-1968) was on the board of the state bank (Gosbank), and worked for Gosplan during 1928-29 (translator’s note).

28.  LD Trotsky, “Counter-Theses on the Five Year Plan”, November 1927, The Challenge of the Left Opposition, 1926-1927 , op cit, pp455-62 (translator’s note).

29.  VI Lenin, “Summing-Up Speech on the Tax in Kind”, 27 May 1921, Collected Works , Volume 32, op cit, p429 (translator’s note).

30.  “To the city and the world.” This is the Latin phrase used for the public pronouncements issued by the Pope in the Vatican Square, which for Roman Catholics have the status of revealed truths (translator’s note).

31.  Emanuil Ionnovich Kviring (1888-1937) joined the Bolsheviks in 1912 and headed the party organisation in Yekaterinburg during the Revolution. He was Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Economic Council and Gosplan from 1925 onwards (translator’s note).

32.  Mikhail Alexandrovich Lurye, known as Larin (1882-1932), was an official of the Foreign Trade Monopoly and Gosplan. LM Sabsovich was an associate of his, and a leading planner in Vesenkha (translator’s note).

33.  S Ordzhonikidze, “120 000 Tractors in Two Years: Speech to the Moscow Industrial District Party Conference”, International Press Correspondence , Volume 9, no 58, 11 October 1929, p1250. Gregory Constantinovich, called Sergo, Ordzhonikidze (1888-1937), was a Georgian and a close ally of Stalin, who later developed differences with him, and either committed suicide, or was assassinated (translator’s note).

34.  D Manuilsky, “Concluding Speech to the Fifteenth Session of the Tenth Plenum of the ECCI”, International Press Correspondence , Volume 9, no 53, 25 September 1929, p1136. Dmitri Zakharovich Manuilsky (1883-1959) joined the RSDLP in 1903, and was a member of the Mezhrayontsi in 1917. Becoming a close ally of Stalin, he was one of the leaders of the Comintern during its notorious “Third Period”. Cf Trotsky’s remarks upon this nonsense, “The "Third Period" of the Comintern’s Errors”, 8 January 1930, Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1930 , New York, 1975, pp55-6 (translator’s note).

35.  Orlovski, “Constructive Work in the Polar District of the Soviet Union”, International Press Correspondence , Volume 9, no 54, 27 September 1929, pp1167-8 (translator’s note).

36.  What Is The Five Year Plan? , Modern Books, London, pp11, 17, 19-20 (translator’s note).

37.  JV Stalin, “A Year of Great Change”, 7 November 1929, Works , Volume 12, Moscow, 1955, pp124, 126, 129 (translator’s note).

38.  V Levin, “The Course of a Great Revolution”, The Communist International , Volume 5, no 28, 1 January 1930, p1107. VA Levin was a senior Gosplan official in the early 1930s (translator’s note).

39.  GF Grinko (1890-1938) was Commissar for Finance under Stalin, and later a defendant in the third Moscow Trial (translator’s note).

40.  Alexander Petrovich Smirnov (1899-1938) was Peoples” Commissar for Agriculture during 1923-28, and on the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the National Economy during 1930-31. He was later Deputy Premier and Secretary of the CPSU (translator’s note).

41.  Ivan Adamovich Kraval (1897-1932) was on the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the National Economy during 1928-30, and then Deputy Commissar for Labour during 1930-32 (translator’s note).

42.  AI Rykov, “The Situation in the Soviet Union”, International Press Correspondence , Volume 9, no 20, 26 April 1929, p427 (translator’s note).

43.  The jacquerie was a French peasant uprising in May-June 1358, so-called after a typical peasant, “Jacques Bonhomme”, which accomplished little but destructive violence (translator’s note).

44.  Bedniaks means poor peasants in Russian (translator’s note).

45.  One of the slogans of the Left Opposition on the demonstration celebrating the Tenth Anniversary of the Russian Revolution in 1927 was “Strike Down the Kulak and the NEPman!” (translator’s note).

46.  AV Chayanov (1888- ) was an economist and writer, who had written a story, published in the 1920s, about a peasant labour party. In 1930, he was arrested along with Kondratiev and accused of forming a kulak party along these lines. He died in prison without being brought to trial (translator’s note).

47.  Blackboards were installed in Soviet factories, on which workers were encouraged to denounce fellow workers who were deemed to be slacking or skiving (translator’s note).

48.  K Bauman, “The Results of the Joint Plenum of the CC and the CCC of the Sixteenth National Party Conference of the CPSU”, International Press Correspondence , Volume 9, no 27, 7 June 1929, p601. Karl Yanovich Bauman (1892-1937) joined the Bolsheviks in 1907, and became secretary to the Orgbureau of the Central Committee, as well as a Central Committee member. He was scapegoated for the early failures of the collectivisation, and shot (translator’s note).

49.  Garald Ivanovich Krumin (1894-1943) joined the Bolsheviks in 1908, and was editor of Ekonomicheskaya Zhizn between 1919 and 1929 (translator’s note).

50.  This is not a direct quotation from Lenin, but several statements he made at the time approach it. Cf “Political Report of the Central Committee to the Eleventh Congress of the RCP(B)”, 27 March 1922, and “Speech at a Plenary Session of the Moscow Soviet”, 20 November 1922 (Collected Works , Volume 33, op cit, pp269 and 443) (translator’s note).

51.  JV Stalin, “Concerning Questions of Agrarian Policy in the USSR”, 27 December 1929 (published two days later in Pravda no 309, not Izvestia , as stated by Souvarine), Works , Volume 12, Moscow, 1955, p178. The remark is plagiarised from Trotsky’s speech on the economy to the Twelfth Congress of the CPSU in 1923. Cf EH Carr, The Interregnum, 1923-1924 , Harmondsworth, 1969, p32 (translator’s note).

52.  Stalin, op cit, pp175-6 (translator’s note).

53.  VI Lenin, “Political Report of the Central Committee to the Eleventh Congress of the RCP(B)”, 27 March 1922, Collected Works , Volume 33, op cit, p279 (translator’s note).

54.  VI Lenin, “Report on Work in the Countryside”, 23 March 1919, Collected Works , Volume 29, Moscow, 1965, pp205-6 (translator’s note).

55.  VI Lenin, “The Tax in Kind”, 21 April 1921, Collected Works , Volume 32, op cit, pp343-4 (translator’s note).

56.  JV Stalin, “Concerning the Question of the Proletariat and the Peasantry”, Speech Delivered at the Thirteenth Gubernia Conference of the Moscow Organisation of the RCP(B), 27 January 1925, Works , Volume 7, Moscow, 1927, p31 (translator’s note).

57.  What Is The Five Year Plan? , op cit, pp7-8 (translator’s note).

58.  LD Trotsky, “The New Course in the Soviet Economy: An Adventure in Economics and Its Dangers”, 13 February 1930, Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1930 , New York, 1975, pp105-6 (translator’s note).

59.  On 2 March 1930, Stalin, aiming to draw criticisms of the chaotic results of collectivisation away from himself, blamed allegedly over-zealous subordinates for the mess, declaring that they were “dizzy with success” (translator’s note).

60.  “Way of living” (Latin) (translator’s note).