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Stalin And The Five Year Plans

Although glory was probably one reason why Stalin embarked on the five-year plans, I do not think that it was the only reason they were carried out. There are several other reasons why Stalin would have proposed and used these five-year plans. Stalin wanted to destroy capitalism, he wanted Russia to become an economic power, Russia was surrounded by threatening countries such as Poland, he wanted to prove communism worked by making Russia an economic power and he wanted Russia to come into its own without help from other countries.

Some people did think that Stalin was not a true communist as he brought many western ideas into Russia in terms of industry and farming, however it was these ideas that lead to Russia becoming stronger. If Stalin could make Russia a world economic power, he could use this to help destroy capitalism. By raising Russia’s economic and political power, he could gain ground on the rest of the world and try and spread communist ideas everywhere. This would make Stalin seem very bold and true communist at heart and would make people see him as though he had gone where other communists had never gone before. In this way, the five-year plans did bring glory to Stalin and made him seem a visionary in the ways of communism.

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If Stalin made Russia an economic power in the world, he would counteract many of the problems that hampered Russia from the beginning. If Russia’s economy was raised, not only would it prove to the world that communism really does work, it would allow Russia to stand up against surrounding threats like Poland, Japan, France, Britain and the US and it would also show that Russia did not need other countries’ help to come into its own. As many countries from the West were threatening Russia, Stalin needed to prepare Russia for war if it was to come to that. And it was the five-year plans that moved Russia towards becoming a stronger country than it was. Although it may just be seen as a glory hunting phase to make Russia an economic power, it was said by Stalin that, ‘We are 50 to 100 years being the advanced countries. We must make good this distance in 10 years.

Either we do it or we shall be crushed.’ And Stalin was very right in saying this. Stalin embarked on these five-year plans because he did not want his home country to fail and fall to many of the Western countries and ideas that threatened it. He needed to industrialise to complete his cry for ‘Socialism in One Country ‘. Also, as the wall street crash had led to the rise of the anti-communist Hitler in Germany, Stalin very much needed to prepare Russia for what was to come. He needed to industrialise and be ready for whatever the West had to throw at him and Russia. Although there were many reasons for Stalin using the five-year plans, all of them would also give him a certain degree of glory among the Russian people and other communist followers. If Stalin destroyed capitalism, made Russia a huge economic power, eliminated all the threats around him and proved that communism worked, he would be seen as a hero in the eyes of Russians and communists alike.

And although the many reasons that Stalin had to industrialise are all very feasible and true, it would have also been true that Stalin wanted to make Russia strong and powerful to make himself look strong and powerful to those he led with his ideas and five-year plans. So, in conclusion, the five-year plans were not just devised to being glory to Stalin as there were many other reasons for Russia to industrialise at that time, but it would have been at least a small part of the five-year plans to make Stalin look very much like the man who, by himself, proved communism and made Russia strong. In that way, it can be seen that the five-year plans had something to do with glory but were mainly to actually make Russia strong and to show people that communism worked.

I do not think that the achievements of the five-year plan were only viewed as ‘bringing glory to Stalin’. The five-year plans achieved a lot in terms of industrialisation and for Russia as a country. Oil production was increased by 3 times, coal and steel production went up by 4 times the amount, all peasants in Russia were tutored and became literate and good with numbers, almost all areas of Russian industry was increased by some amount and farmers were given tractors and other heavy machinery to help them produce crops. Although all these things would have brought glory to Stalin as a result, they did still help Russia a lot in terms of its economy and place in the world. The five-year plans really did make Russia a much stronger country. Not only did the five-year plans allow its economy to raise and allow the people of Russia to have their own money, but it showed the public what they could do if they were put in the right direction and put all their heart into it.

Another way in which the five-year plans can be viewed is from a propaganda angle. I think that there are two ways in which you can see this propaganda campaign that Stalin embarked on; I think it could either be interpreted as a plain attempt to make people see Stalin as a great figure, but it could also be seen as a way to encourage workers and the Russian people to meet the targets of the five-year plan, to give them someone to look up to. I think personally, that Stalin was trying to raise his people’s morale and give them something to work towards. A very good example of how Stalin used propaganda to make workers work harder was the story of Alexei Stakhanov. It was said that this man, by himself, in one single shift mined 102 tonnes of coal from the mine he was working at. This was fourteen times the amount of coal a miner was expected to mine by himself in one shift.

Of course, this story was a setup, but it worked incredibly well as propaganda. Many workers looked up to Stakhanov and worked harder than they ever had to try and earn the prestigious award of being named a Stakhanovite. With this title came better housing, free holidays and cash prizes. Any worker in their right mind would most definitely want to have these privileges for both themselves and their families. However, some people did not like these Stakhanovites as they increased the amount of work each worker had to achieve in a day’s work. Although they could have complained, they most probably would have just been punished and the punishments enforced by the government were ones that workers wanted to avoid at all costs. Propaganda also gave the people of Russia ahead figure to look up to and to give them an idea of what they could amount to.

In all his propaganda posters, Stalin is shown to be friendly to all peoples of the world and of Russia. He might be shown giving speeches to the workers or he might be shown embracing children in his arms. This gave the people of Russia a ‘father figure’ to look up to and admire. If all they had done before was to be ignored by their government and officials, they could relate to Stalin and it would make them think that Stalin likes us and that anything was possible. In conclusion, although the five-year plans did bring glory to Stalin, the fact that it inspired the Russian public to work harder than ever and the fact that the whole Russian economy was raised by quite a great deal proves that glory was not the only way in which it was seen. I think that the only real way to inspire a nation to work as they did during the five-year plans is to make someone a figure to look up to, to raise morale. In this case, it was Stalin, and although, yes the five-year plans did show Stalin to be a very high and mighty figure who really cared about the Russian public, it was this that helped a whole nation industrialise.

I don’t think that the five-year plans only brought misery to the Russian people. Although there were some bad events that affected many workers and people alike, there were also many good occurrences that improved Russian living and the way, in which Russians worked and led their normal lives. It could be said that many Russian people began to feel as if they were finally being included in the government’s plans to run their country as if they could really make a difference in how everyone lived. There were quite a few ways in which Russian life improved. All peasants in Russia were tutored and became literate and good with numbers, farmers were given tractors and other tools to help harvest their crop, almost everyone in Russia was given a job and successful workers were moved into a state of the art flats and houses making living a comfortable affair. Before the five-year plans, most of the Russian working class (peasants) could not read and had not been schooled.

As Stalin introduced the five-year plans, every peasant in Russia was put into a program to help them become literate and good with numbers. This would have greatly improved life for these peasants, as it would have opened up new windows in terms of what they could achieve by themselves and without other people’s help. As farmers were given tractors and mechanised tools, they could harvest more crops, which would have meant that those farmers would be able to keep more crops themselves and would make more money from selling them. As almost everyone in Russia was employed when the five-year plans came into action, there was a very low unemployment rate and everyone could earn their own living and could look after their families accordingly. As many people in Russia were moved into new houses and flats, their lives were greatly improved as it made them a lot more comfortable and they all had running water, heating etc. From that, you can see that there were many ways in which Russian life was improved. However, all this was not without an opposite downside.

Because of collectivisation, all the farmers had to share their land with each other, all industry was controlled by the government, not the people, many areas of industry were completely neglected, many small workshops were squeezed out and forgotten about, many workers were forced to change jobs a lot which caused a great deal of instability in their lives and in most cases, working conditions were very poor indeed. Although collectivisation may seem like quite a good idea to people who weren’t farmers, most farmers in Russia hated it. It meant that, basically, every farmer had to share his/her land with other farmers. This meant that some farmers used more land than others did and some were hardly given any land at all. This gave farmers a lot less control over their crops and land. Also, the new tools provided by the government were very hard to operate, most farmers didn’t know how to use them and once again, farmers had to share all this equipment with each other making it very difficult to harvest their crops when they wanted.

As the government-controlled industry, the workers who worked for all the different industries had no control over what they had to do. Workers could not complain very effectively about anything and most that complained were punished very harshly. Having almost no control over their work meant that many workers became unstable and restless. This could have led to the small uprising, which would have been punished very, very severely. Also, as the government-controlled industry, many small businesses were squeezed out because ‘they were using materials that big industries could be using’. Although the materials could have been put to better use in bigger factories, it meant that consumer businesses had no affect on the economy anymore. Most ‘comfort’ shops were completely forgotten about and taken over by the government, making home run businesses redundant and forcing them to go and work in factories or on farms. Many workers were forced to change jobs very regularly, sometimes to different areas of the country; this made it very difficult for people to settle down making lives very unstable.

In most jobs given to the workers by the government, working conditions were absolutely terrible. Many workers died whilst building industrial plants, mines or other buildings wanted by the government. Although when they were built they were successful, hundreds, probably thousands of workers died during the construction periods. In conclusion, it has to be said that there were probably more things that brought misery to the Russian people than there were to bring them comfort. Most of the things that brought comfort to the people had problems with them from the outset anyway, as many tools, such as tractors and the like were very difficult to operate and hardly anyone was trained in using them. Although almost everyone in Russia was employed, it was usually in very unsafe factories, construction sites or farms. Safety conditions were terrible and from all the factors covered above, I think that although the five-year plans brought quite a lot of glory and greatness to Russia, the people did suffer quite badly.

Overall, I think that the five-year plans succeeded quite well on many fronts, but also failed on others. These plans did raise Russia’s economy quite a lot, gave Russia a new place in the world and did, in a way, show that communism worked. They also showed that not all the leaders of Russia were complete idiots that did absolutely nothing for their country. The five-year plans showed that good leadership and powerful ideas were something that could come out of Russia and take the world by storm. This could be shown from World War Two. As Hitler and his Nazi party hated the idea of communism, it was one of his plans to invade Russia. When they did attempt this, the Russian army, quite successfully, fought them off. Because of the five-year plans, many new industrial options were open to Russia, allowing them to build better weapons and most importantly, tanks. The Russian tanks of World War Two proved to be quite a formidable force, especially against the German army.

However, if you compare Russia after the five-year plans to the rest of the world, they were still quite far behind. Although its economy was raised a lot and many new ideas were open for use to the Russians, compared to countries like America, Britain and France, they were far behind. This was also very evident in the way the people of Russia were treated. If you look at Britain or France at that time, most people were treated very openly and had a ‘mind of their own ‘. In Russia, it was the government that controlled everything and the people were treated with little respect. If we look at a quote from ‘Beyond the Urals’ by John Scott, this point is quite well illustrated. ‘Bubonic plague had broken out in three places not far from Magnitogorsk.’ This shows that the government didn’t really care about the health of the people, instead, they just made them work all the time.

Most of the five-year plan’s achievements were very industrial and mostly based on improving Russia as a country instead of Russia in terms of a place to live. The Russian economy was brought up quite a lot, new ideas were opened to the government and Russia was looked at in a different way, but the people of Russia suffered a great deal. Working conditions were poor, most people were completely neglected and everyone was overworked to a great degree. So, in conclusion, I think that the five-year plans worked very well in terms of making Russia a more formidable opponent in wars or on the economic market, but I feel that they completely failed in terms of making Russia a better place to live for the Russian people and did not help many small businesses which could have probably helped Russia a great deal.

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