Critical Analysis Of Joseph Stalin’s Strategy Of Five-year Plans

The Soviet Union originated from the Russian Revolution in1917. It was founded by leader Vladimir Lenin. Following Lenin's death, a brutal dictator took over the USSR, whose name was Joseph Stalin. Stalin was aware that the country was developing at a really slow speed, agriculture, military or technology were severely backwards. This made him extremely feared about foreign country invasions. As he began to gain complete control of the Soviet Union in 1928. He tried to build a self-sufficient and strong military state by promoting the industrialization process. Stalin's ultimate goal is to defend the Soviet Union and to show those capitalist countries that communism is superior.

Stalin successfully transformed the economic growth of the nation by the implementation of the Five-Year Plans, which was strategies that could help with economic growth. The first Five-Year plans were launched in 1928, although there were several more introduced in the later years. But the first one was considered to be the most significant one because it laid out the foundations for advancement. The main feature of the first plan was to rapid industrialization. He focused on heavy industry such as coal and steel industries. Large projects such as ports, railroads, dams, and highways were built for the new industry. Meanwhile, production of consumer goods such as clothes was practically ignored by Stalin. Since industrialization was creating more towns and workers, food shortages became a problem.

The agriculture was so backward that farmers still used horse-drawn ploughs. What Stalin needed to do was to bring advanced agricultural techniques in order to speed up crop production. He exported grains abroad to make profits, and he could use the money to feed the workers. Stalin also attempted to keep the prices of grains low so farmers could afford it without having to raise the wages. However, prices were controlled by the Kulaks(wealthy peasants), they wanted to keep to prices high in the market, so they could make more profits. Because of it, Stalin saw the Kulaks as his enemies.

The First Five-Year Plan also focused on the idea of collectivism on the agricultural aspects. Collectivism was to end all private ownership of lands. All lands would be properties of the state. Peasants were forced to work on a collectivized farm, which was a large area joined by former peasant farms. Past peasants then became paid workers. They would work on these lands, using machinery owned by the state. They could only receive about 10% of the production, and it was only to be shared among the members, selling was prohibited. The rest of the production belonged to the state. The Kulaks protested collectivism and were uncooperative. Stalin executed the Kulaks and took their property away. Collectivism was necessary because Stalin needed money to invest in heavy industries.

Overall, the first Five-Year Plans did help with increasing the amount of coal and steel and expanded the number of towns. Although there were many negative effects of Stalin's plans, it indeed played a big role in turning the Soviet Union into a powerful, industrialized country. Despite the success the Five-Year Plans had achieved. It wasn't an ideal plan regarding to what it had cost the human. With the development of collectivism, peasants were forced to give up their lands to the state. The peasant class was divided into 3 categories, the kulaks were the high-income peasants who mostly owned lands, the serednyak was the middle class, and lastly, and the bednyak was the poor group. The kulaks were the ones who opposed to collectivism because their lands and animals were taken away by the government. Stalin had always hostile towards the Kulaks, he wanted to exploit their lands. Depending on the peasant's level of resistance, they could be either exiled, sent to labor camps, or executed. Stalin would force those in labor camps to mine to contribute in the Five-Year Plans. With large numbers of peasants being starved or deported, agriculture has been severely damaged and led to food shortages.

Collective peasants received low wages. About 90% of the production of the crops were given to the state. The farmers were only allowed to keep a little portion of it and it could barely feed them. Foods has always been expensive to buy. Farmers who couldn't afford to buy any died of starvation. Stalin continued exporting grains abroad when the famine hit the country in 1932. Safety standards in workplaces were often ignored, accidents often happened. Stalin also regulated the workers strictly by setting targets for each of them in every industry. For instance, Stalin demanded a 200% increase in iron production, a 111% increase in coal production, and a 335% increase in electric power production. To meet the needs, each worker would have his or her own designated targets.

The outputs for every worker are shown on a display board in every factory. If a worker failed in achieving the target, he could be publicly humiliated and may be punished by either increasing targets, cutting wages or losing his job. If a worker was late or absent from work, it would be recorded down onto the display board. If the record was poor, the worker could end up being considered as the government's enemy and could be executed. Some people couldn't bear with the pressure, especially that most workers used to be farmers who worked at their own speed. Between 1928-1937, wages for the factory labors decreased in general. Most farmers were forced to move into cities to contribute to the industrial workforce. The cities became overcrowded as more workers moved in, many people had to share a house or a room. The industry of consumer goods was ignored by Stalin, people often lack clothes, shoes, etc. Many products that manufactured were in bad qualities they could barely be used and were wasted. Extreme resources were used for some unnecessary construction, causing large amounts of resources and manpower being wasted.

14 May 2021
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