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

M. Ilin's

The Story of the Five-Year Plan


1. What is the Difference Between Coal and Stone?

In order to get energy for our machines we shall dig deep mines, we shall build dams across rivers, we shall pump peat out of swamps, we shall suck oil from the earth.

But this is not all.

The getting of fuel is only half the task. To take coal from one place and put it into another is not enough. What is gained, if the coal remains idle? We do not bring it out of the earth in order that it may loaf. We dig it in order that it may work for us. How, then, can we force it to work? How can we force a piece of coal which lies immovable on the ground to work? The case of water is more simple. Water flows. If a wheel–a turbine–is placed in its way, the water turns it. But a piece of coal is as inert as a stone.

There is a difference, however, between coal and stone, a very great difference: coal will burn. Coal can be burned under a boiler and be made to generate steam.

And a flow of steam, like a stream of water, can turn the wheel of a turbine. It can drive the piston of the steam engine.

What, then, is our conclusion? To mine coal is not enough: we must build stations with steam boilers, with engines and turbines.

Where shall we build these stations? We might build one in every factory.

And we might build a large station to serve, let us say, one hundred or even two hundred factories.

Which method will be the more profitable? What do you think?

2. One or One Hundred?

My opinion is that a single large station is more profitable than one hundred little ones.

Just imagine the situation: for the little stations we shall need one hundred buildings, and for the large station only one; for the little stations we shall need one hundred railroad branches to bring the coal, and for the large station only one.

For the little stations we shall need perhaps one hundred turbines, and for the large station only one. The latter must, of course, be a hundred times as strong as each of the former. But this does not mean that it must be one hundred times larger and heavier. The largest turbine–tens of thousands of horsepower–occupies very little space: it is housed in one room.

In the large station there will be fewer workers than in all the small ones. For whether the worker looks after a large or a small machine is a matter of indifference to him.

It may even be easier to care for a large machine. It is equipped with all kinds of improvements for repairing, for putting in the fuel, for removing the ashes. But why cannot these improvements be installed in a little station? The expense is too great.

You can now see how many more trumps a large station has than a small one. But I have left one trump to the very last. Guess what it is? Since you cannot guess, I will tell you.

Where must we build the little stations? In factories. A large station we can build wherever it is most profitable. And where is that? Where there is fuel, of course.

We shall build a peat-burning station in a peat swamp, a coal-burning station near a coal mine. This is clear. There is nothing to argue about here. Why should we transport coal or peat over a railroad when it can be burned on the spot, converted into electric current, and sent wherever desirable–to all the surrounding factories? Already we know how to send electric current five hundred kilometers, and in time we shall learn to send it yet farther.

3. A Union of Factories

Take a pair of compasses and draw on a map a circle with a radius of five hundred kilometers. If you construct a large electrical station in the center, it can supply with energy all the factories which lie within the circle. What is the result?

A union of factories. And in the middle of the union is the electric station.

According to the Five-Year Plan we shall build forty-two regional electric stations. Each of these will serve a union of factories.

The very largest union will be on the Dnieper, around Dnieprostroy.

In the center is the electric station. About it are numerous factories –metallurgical, porcelain, cement, chemical, shipbuilding, aluminum, and others. The station sends current to all and aids all. But the factories also help one another. The metallurgical factory produces hot gases in its blast furnaces. Since it does not need these gases, it gives them away to other factories–cement, aluminum, porcelain.

Remember, according to our calculations Dnieprostroy will give to us eighteen million mechanical workers. This army of helpers will not remain idle. We shall compel it to melt iron, steel, and aluminum, to build steamships, to bake cement and porcelain, to manufacture chemical products, to produce fertilizers for the fields, to illuminate cities, to irrigate arid lands. Every living worker in the factories of the Dnieper Union will be assisted by seven hundred mechanical helpers.

And such a union we shall organize around every great electric station.

4. An Electrified Country

In time we shall link all of these unions into one vast electric system.

First of all, we shall stretch wires from Dhieprostroy to the Don Basin. These two regions will grasp hands in friendly fashion.

When Dnieprostroy requires current, Donbas will give it. When the Don Basin is in need, Dnieprostroy will come to the rescue. And this will occur every year.

In the spring when rivers overflow, the underground waters also become turbulent and strive to hood the mines. Day and night electric primps must work to remove the water. To stop the pumps would mean disaster. Small wonder, then, that the Don Basin has insufficient current and requires it unto death. But at the same time the banks of the Dnieper are full, the water is high, all of the turbines are working, and an excess of electrical energy is produced. Consequently, Dnieprostroy aids the Don Basin by sending current for its pumps.

But when the river falls, when the turbines lack water, when the Dnieper factories are in need of energy, Dnieprostroy signals the Don Basin:


And then the current flows in the other direction along the wires: from the Don Basin to the Dnieper factories. For the electric stations of the Donbas depend on coal.

But this is only the beginning. The time will come when the rural districts are electrified. In the city electricity has already won the battle over kerosene; now it is the turn of the village. Light without fire or soot, steady, bright, and safe, will flash through the village streets. Thousands of hours will be reclaimed from the dark winter days, from the long autumn nights, by the electric lamp. The peasant will have more time for work, for reading.

And within fifteen or twenty years electricity will become as common as air or water. Everywhere both energy and light will be obtainable in any quantity. Electric machines will work both in the factories and in the fields. Electric trains will dash over steel rails. Electric ploughs will till the soil. Electric combines will gather the harvest. Electric automobiles will carry the laborers to work.

Everywhere–in the street, in the home, in the factory–noiseless, nimble, stalwart electric servants will work for men.