Russia: Tsarist and Communist

By Anatole G. Mazour | Go to book overview

32
The Economic Revolution (1928-1939)

SOCIALIST OFFENSIVE: THE PLANNED ECONOMY

THE YEAR 1928 marks a milestone on the long road toward realization of the aims of the Russian Revolution. The stupendous program set for the government by the Fifteenth Congress of the Communist Party indicated a complete victory of the Stalin faction over the Trotsky opposition group, of 'socialism in a single country' over international socialism. The same Congress also passed a resolution calling for the expulsion from the Party of all members connected with the Trotsky group. But the Fifteenth Congress did not gather for the exclusive purpose of purging the Party; its main task was the opening of a 'socialist offensive' along the front of the entire national economy.

The duties of elaborating the plan for economic reconstruction were assigned to a commission that had been functioning since 1921, the State Planning Commission, or Gosplan. By the beginning of 1928, the Commission produced what came to be known as the First Five-Year Plan, which officially went into effect on October 1, 1928, and which envisioned the complete industrial and agrarian reorganization of the sprawling Soviet Llnion. It aimed at a relocation of industrial centers to correspond to the areas of natural resources--a step which would not only eliminate costly long hauls but remove industry from possible war zones.

There were many reasons for this Herculean revolutionary undertaking. Apart from a desire to prevent the complete defeat of the revolution by the forces of NEP, there were other and even more substantial reasons for this reversal of the retreat tactics begun in 1921. Beneath official declarations there ran a deep desire to break loose from Western capitalism. The Soviet government was in desperate need of long-term credits, which the capitalist nations refused until some satisfactory solution of prerevolutionary debts should be secured. Short-term credits were both embarrassing and costly. It was abundantly clear that Moscow could not continue soliciting for loans, humbly inviting benevolent foreign concessionaires to develop the country, and lagging behind the rest of Europe in the race to restore crippled economies and armed strength. The political sky was full of war signs; relations between Communist Russia and capitalist Europe were at best frigidly correct, at worst openly hostile. As the Soviet government faced the situation at home and abroad, it became increasingly clear

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