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

M. Ilin's

The Story of the Five-Year Plan


1. The Scouts of the Five-Year Plan

It is easy to say, 'We will build hundreds of new cities, thousands of new factories.' But out of what are we to construct them? Certainly not out of air. Do we have enough brick, cement, and glass for construction? Do we have enough iron for machines?

Of finished goods we have little, but of raw materials we have as much as you wish.

If from a car window you see only waste land, forests, and swamps, you see nothing.

Waste lands are clay, sand, and stone.

Forests are beams, rafters, staves, and ties.

Feat swamps are electric current.

Out of clay and sand we make bricks; out of clay and lime, cement; out of iron ore, steel.

We must find raw materials. Our first task, therefore, is exploration. One should never begin a battle before the work of scouting has been done.

Every year we send expeditions to the most distant regions–beyond the polar circle, to the deserts of Kazakstan, into the mountains of Altai and Pamir.

One troop of scouts makes its way over the marshy tundra of Siberia. It goes without maps, almost on a guess. Its members wear black masks of netting. Otherwise they would be devoured by mosquitoes and gnats. As the troop proceeds, accompanying it and not lagging a single step, moves an expedition of flying insects. The tundra is like a flat plate, without a single hill, without even a solitary shrub.

At the same time far to the south goes another troop of scouts. It proceeds up a mountain ridge as up the cornice of a giant wall. Below are hundreds of meters of empty space. If you should become frightened, you would fall into a crevasse and even your bones would never be seen again. But the scout must not know fear. So he moves on, leaning with his entire body against the stony wall and cautiously feeling his way around projections with his feet.

During the ten years following 1919 the Academy of Science alone organized three hundred and seventy-one expeditions! And how many scouts did our other scientific institutions send out! How many persons have been commissioned to explore those places where we have decided to build railroads, to dig canals, to put down coal mines, to construct factories!

Throughout the entire country our scouts are at work.

2. What the Scouts Say

What, then, do the scouts say? Have they succeeded in discovering anything?

They tell us that we are still altogether ignorant about our country. They say that as yet our country has not even been discovered.

Beyond the polar circle in the middle of the tundra of Karelia, they have found the huge Hibinsky Mountains. And do you know what these mountains are made of? They are made of most valuable raw materials–nephelite and apatite. Nephelite will give us glass. Apatite will give us phosphates –fertilizers for our fields. And of these raw materials there are tens, yes, hundreds of millions of tons.

In the desert of Kara-Kum our scouts stumbled upon strange hills. These hills suggest that giants had amused themselves making little bricks out of sand. But on examination the little bricks are found to be, not sand, but a mixture of sand and sulphur. And sulphur we buy from Italy: we bring it from afar, and we pay for it much money. We use sulphur in making paper and rubber. Also with sulphur we can spray grain and cotton and protect them from insects. We have learned all at once that we have as much sulphur as we want.

In Siberia scouts found lakes containing rich deposits of soda. But do you know what soda is? Without it you cannot make soap. And not only soap, but also many other things. Soda is usually made of salt. For this large factories are built. And there it lies in the lake ready-made, just to be taken!

In Yakut scouts discovered great cliffs–higher than a six-story building– made of the purest rocksalt. But we have salt in other places. They also found there a yet more remarkable thing–huge transparent crystals of gypsum; thirty-five by thirty-five centimeters! A regular window-pane, only not made of glass, all ready to be placed in the window. And khandrila in Kazakstan! Khandrila is a kind of plant. In its stems our scientists noticed a strange liquid. They tested it and found it to be caoutchouc. And we import caoutchouc for our rubber factories from abroad!

And is it possible to enumerate all that the scouts have found!

But the scouts work not only in forests, steppes, and waste lands. They work in every laboratory. For everybody to travel a thousand versts, to get drenched by rain, to have teeth chatter from extreme cold is not necessary. Here at this table in these glass tubes we shall make valuable discoveries for our industries. We shall teach factories how to get raw materials from wastes, from what is not needed, from what is everywhere, from what lies under our very feet. Already we know how to make paper and cardboard out of reeds, fine cloth out of ordinary coarse wool, sugar out of the refuse of sugar factories.

Of raw materials we have plenty. About this we need not worry. Our country only seems poor and empty. In the peat swamps we will build electric stations and send the power of peat over wires as electric current. From fir trees we will make paper. We shall plough and seed the steppes now covered with feather grass and red top, and they will give us bread.

In time also we shall force the wind to work for us. Our scientists have invented new and practicable wind motors.

And under the earth we have coal, iron, zinc, copper. We have only begun to discover our riches.

Five years ago we thought that we had in the Kuznets Basin of Siberia only 150 billion tons of coal. And now the scouts have found there 150 billion tons more. What a find! This would make a mountain of coal five kilometers high. How does it happen that they did not see such a huge mountain before?

Because coal does not lie on the surface of the ground, because it is not piled in a heap. It lies in layers deep down in the earth. From the surface one cannot see whether there is any coal under the ground or not. In order that we may get to it, a shaft must be sunk into the earth. This, however, is not so simple. To dig down into soft earth is easy; but suppose one encounters layers of hard stone? Then no tool of steel will serve; only a diamond drill will do the work.

But why talk of the Kuznets Basin! There we have just begun to construct mines, while in the Don Basin work has been going on for half a century.

Well, then, do we know the Don Basin?

No, we do not even know it. There we must sink shafts almost on a guess, not knowing, as we should, what kind of layer we shall find, how far it goes, and how thick it is.

And iron!

Did we really know a few years ago that there is iron in the Lower Volga Region? And now we have already begun the construction there of a large metallurgical factory which will give us 150 thousand tons of pig iron a year.

It is the same with oil. Recently Professor Preobrazhensky discovered oil where formerly no one ever thought of looking for it–within forty kilometers of Perm. And scientists say that there must be oil all the way from the Middle Volga to the Urals.

In a word, everywhere we must prick into the earth core with a 'littie pin'–a scouting drill. So exploration goes on. In many places there stand already long-legged steel giants–towers equipped with drilling lathes. They drive steel and diamond drills into the ground through the rock, and to the riches hidden under tens and hundreds of meters of 'empty,' unprofitable earth.

3. Every School Child must be a Scout

Every schoolchild dreams about a journey to distant lands–to Africa, to America, to India.

But why go so far? Do you know the locality in which you live? Can you tell whether it contains peat swamps, forests, lime, phosphate, brick and pottery clay, building sand?

You of course do not know these things.

And the first journey which you should undertake is a journey through the region surrounding your city or village.

Organize expeditions, prepare detail maps. On these maps indicate everything that could be used in the Five-Year Plan. Ask older comrades and teachers to help you; learn from them how to recognize minerals. As yet you do not know how to use your eyes. You can hardly distinguish a piece of ore from a common stone. And a scout should know this.

Books alone are not enough here. You must see and touch for yourself. Remember that the country in which you live has not yet been discovered.

Discover it!