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

M. Ilin's

The Story of the Five-Year Plan


1. Conquerors of Their Own Counlry Following the troops of scouts goes an army of conquerors, an army of workers.

What are they going to conquer?

They go to conquer their own country.

But really must it be conquered? Is not the land in which we live our own?

No, it is not ours. Ask informed people and they will tell you that we yet have a great deal of unowned land, unowned forest, and unowned steppe. But what does 'unowned' mean? It means not our own.

And in truth can we really call unpeopled steppes our own? Can we really call Yakut our own? Yakut is a vast region–a fifth part of our entire Union. And how many people live there? Two hundred and eighty thousand. In all of Yakut there are only as many inhabitants as in a few streets of Leningrad or Moscow! In Yakut are limitless forests. Every summer fires destroy there thousands of hectares of woods.

In Yakut there are also coal, and iron, and silver, and lead, and gold.

But the coal which lies untouched beneath the soil is as yet nobody's coal. And the forest which we do not cut and which we do not protect is as yet nobody's forest. All of this will be ours, if we will it so, but as yet it belongs to no one.

Our steppes will truly become ours only when we come with columns of tractors and ploughs and break the thousand-year-old virgin soil. Then these steppes will be ours. But until then they will belong to no one.

We must discover and conquer the country in which we live. It is a tremendous country. Nine thousand kilometers from west to east, four and one half thousand from north to south. The world's coldest region is in Verkhoyansk–there it is sometimes seventy degrees below zero! And tropical heat is in Samarkand–there in the summer it is as hot as in Africa near the sources of the Nile. Snow and ice in the north–palms in the south.

On such a far-flung front we must wage war.

And the Five-Year Plan is one of the first great battles in the war. We must burrow into the earth, break rocks, dig mines, construct houses. We must take from the earth, lift, and transport millions of tons of ore, of coal, of peat, of building materials.

But are we to do all of this with our hands? With shovel, spade, and pick?

No, other weapons are needed here.

We must have a shovel which can raise a wagonload of earth at once. We must have a pick which can break huge boulders into bits.

But even if we should make such a shovel or such a pick, who would wield it? Obviously giant workmen are needed.

But are there such giant workmen?

There are.

2. Giant Workmen

There is a giant excavator. It has only one arm, but this arm is twenty meters in length. In its hand it holds a shovel. This is not really a shovel, but huge scoop or bucket with a long handle. In the little cabin at the base of the arm sits one man, a mechanic, with seven electrical motors. For each movement of the excavator there is a special motor like a special muscle.

The mechanic first turns on one motor. The scoop cuts into the ground with teeth made of forged steel and is filled with earth. Then he starts another motor. The great arm slowly moves upward, raising a huge bucket of earth. Stop! The third motor begins its work. The giant excavator turns to the left in a circle, as a soldier at drill. And there a car is already prepared to receive its burden. The operator pulls a chain, the bottom of the bucket opens, and the earth rushes like a waterfall into the iron box of the car.

There is another giant loader which resembles its comrade, the excavator. It also has a huge arm. But with this arm it holds not a shovel, but a cable with a hook at the end. If a load is to be raised, this giant grabs the load with the hook and drags it wherever is necessary.

Then there is a mast forty meters high, which is a giant stonemason. If, let us suppose, the foundation for a bridge or dam is to be laid, wooden forms are first built and then into these forms liquid cement is poured. And it is here that we make use of the giant stonemason. At the bottom of the mast liquid cement is poured into a container. A mechanic starts the engine, and the container dies upward along the mast. Stop! It reaches the top and empties the cement into a trough. And along the trough the cement, like a stream of water, runs directly into the form. A stream of liquid stone! And where is it? In the air high above our heads!

Men have invented many giant machines. There are machines that burrow into the earth; there are machines that gnaw through a bed of coal; there are machines that suck slime and sand from the bottom of a river. One machine stretches itself upward in order to raise loads aloft; another contracts itself into a little cake in order to creep and crawl under the ground.

One machine has teeth, another a trunk, a third a fist. The first gnaws, the second sucks, the third strikes. And each one has its own name. The earthdigger is called an excavator; the loader, a lifting crane; the stonemason, a pouring mast; the borer, a drilling lathe; the coal-digger, a hewing machine. Innumerable machines have been invented and we shall need them all in our great work.