To What Extent Did Stalin Meet the Aims of the Five Year Plans

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  • Topic: Russia, Soviet Union, Serfdom
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  • Published : February 26, 2008
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To a certain extent Stalin did meet, in places, the overly optimistic aims for the Five Year Plans yet this was to be at the cost of millions of lives and the livelihoods of many Russian peasants who were to be ruthlessly killed, extradited or simply stripped of their land and possessions. The success of the Five Year Plans can be judged upon the entry of Russia into the Second World War for this was to be the first big test of the newly industrialised state on the world stage. Stalin had aimed to bring about the complete modernisation of Russia as a country and in doing so had hoped that this would mean that Russia could overtake the Capitalist Nations of the West. Stalin himself was the individual who had proposed such plans for he was the one it may be argued, who wished to achieve an historical role for himself as the successor of Lenin. Evidence of this proposal, putting Russian development at the forefront of his ideas, is illustrated by his speeches in which he calls for the need to "create socialism in one country". His objectives were clear for he gave priority to the recovery of the peasant sector and to the financing of industry, which, he argued, were to become possible due to the prospect of the increased prosperity of the Russian peasantry. However one should also argue that they would probably have occurred anyway and another leader may have attained the same end result yet without the terrible effects upon the Russian population and way of life.

One may argue that Stalin's aims were clear. He had launched the so-called ‘revolution from above' in November 1927, which had laid down two distinct aims for soviet domestic policy. These were rapid industrialisation of Russia and the collectivisation of agriculture. Stalin, it may be argued, had wished to erase the traces of capitalism resulting from the New Economic Policy and instead wished to transform Russia as quickly as possible. He had wished for the modernisation and expansion of Russian industry that, he argued, was necessary in order to defend Russia from the hostile capitalist West. One fundamental point to consider is that he didn't seem to consider the possible effects or costs upon the Russian people but instead purely wished to achieve a completely socialist state at all costs. The first five-year plan had been adopted in 1928 and it had called for a particular focus upon heavy industry. His aims had been clear as he called for all industry and services to be nationalised and he had made of paramount importance, the meeting of all of the predetermined quotas. He introduced the concept of using Trade Unions as a system by which it would be possible to improve worker productivity and in turn this would lead to the construction of multiple numbers of production plants in the foreseeable future. He wished to transform Russian agriculture from simple individual grain producing farms into a system of extensive state collectivised grain production farms which he believed would increase productivity and would provide the much needed grain reserves needed to feed the urban labour force. Moreover, Stalin chose to resort to tactics of ‘War Communism' by which the state could seize grain from the peasants on top of which, one was able to witness, "coercion backed by terror" which dominated the Russian way of life for over ten years.

Stalin's campaign against the peasants, who made up 80% of the population, was to lead to the possibility of the meeting of the optimistic targets laid down by the first Five Year Plan but it may be argued that the deaths of millions was unnecessary and simply a method by which Stalin aimed to regain some sort of control over a group of people who had turned their backs on the state. One may say that this method presented Russian backwardness and served to bar the path for industrialisation in both the short run and the long run. Stalin set about introducing his insane policy of ‘liquidation of the kulaks as a class' and they...
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