Marxists Internet Archive: Subjects: Marxism and Art: Literature: Children's Literature

M. Ilin's

The Story of the Five-Year Plan


1. Figures are Pictures

There are books with stories, with pictures, with poems. Such books are interesting to read and to look at. There are also books with figures and tables. From these books we learn much, but we would not read them for fun.

But here is a book [original had a picture of an open book on this page] which consists entirely of figures and tables, and yet it is more interesting than any story of adventure.

In this book every figure is a picture. Let us take at random a few figures from its pages:

51 378000 3385 42

What do these mean?

51 means blast-furnaces.
378000 means tractors.
3385 means locomotives.
43 means electric stations.

At first sight this book contains nothing of interest, just figures such as may be found in any textbook or book of science. But when you begin to read, you cannot tear yourself away.

2. What One can See in Figures

On the bank of a large river great cliffs are being broken into bits. Fierce machines resembling prehistoric monsters clamber clumsily up the steps of a gigantic ladder hewed out of the mountain.

A river appears where none existed before, a river one hundred kilometers long.

A swamp is suddenly transformed into a broad lake.

On the steppe, where formerly only feather-grass and redtop grew, thousands of acres of wheat wave in the breeze.

Airplanes fly above the Siberian taiga, where in little cabins live people with squinting eyes clad in strange dress made of animal skins.

In the Kalmik region, in the middle of the naked steppe, grow buildings of steel and concrete alongside the felt tents of the nomads.

Steel masts rise over the whole country: each mast has four legs and many arms, and each arm grasps metal wires.

Through these wires runs a current, runs the power and the might of rivers and waterfalls, of peat swamps and coal beds.

All this is in the figures, all this is in the book of figures. And this book is called the Five-Year Plan.

3. A Difficult Task

To tell in one's own words about this great plan is al difficult task. To relate in a small booklet all that is told in 1680 pages of figures, tables, and brief explanations–is this possible? Thousands of people worked over the Five-Year Plan, and I alone wish to tell about everything.

Already this plan ceases to be a plan: already figures are transformed into things. In order to tell about everything, one would have to be everywhere that construction goes on, one would have to see everything with one's own eyes. But to see is not enough; one must understand also. I am an engineer; I know best that little corner of technology in which I work. But I must write about the entire program of construction. In order to perform this task well, I should be a metallurgist, an agronomist, a mechanic, a builder, a chemist, an economist, a civil engineer, a hydrotechnologist.

To be everywhere and to know everything is impossible.

Of course there is much about which I shall not speak, there is much that I shall omit. Others will tell more: others will tell you of things I do not mention and will further illuminate those things concerning which I say little.