Nothing differentiated the Soviet Union from the other two totalitarian dictatorships more than its economic policies. Except for that of German Jews, private property in the fascist states was not adversely affected by totalitarianism. The policy of the Communist government of Russia, on the other hand, was nothing less than to own and control almost all property, from agricultural land to factories, transportation systems, and natural resources. This policy alone meant that the Soviet regime had to be far more totalitarian in its authority and to intervene more intimately in the lives of its citizens than either the Nazis or the Fascists. What Stalin attempted to do, no absolute ruler before him would have dared. It amounted to changing a whole country’s way of life. It is no wonder, then, that Stalin’s First FiveYear Plan, launched in 1928, is sometimes called the Second Bolshevik Revolution. To carry it out, Stalin virtually declared war on his own country and reduced its real per capita income by half.
The Russian economy recovered fairly quickly from the devastation wrought by three years of world war and three more of civil war. In many cases, all that was needed to resume agricultural production was the return of peasant soldiers to their fields. Industries could often restore production as soon as machines were repaired and the transportation systems functioned normally again. In neither case were huge investments of time or money necessary. By 1928, the process of recovery was largely complete. Actual progress however, was likely to be much slower