Soviet Collectivization & Industrialization – First Five-Year Plan
23 December, 2010
Soviet Collectivization & Industrialization – First Five-Year Plan

The year of 1928 was noted for the beginning of planning of economic development of the USSR. The first five-year plan was created. The country was supposed to reach a certain economic level in 1932, but the unqualified specialists that worked in Russia would never fulfill that plan. Professor Simon Maskharashvili has more.
GJ – In the 1930’s the horrifying communist terror had started in the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). Those antihuman, dreadful repressions had reflected with m

ore or less intensity on the life of all the nations comprising the Soviet Union. In Georgia for example, the intellectual and reasonably thinking part of the population (who had chosen not to emigrate but stay in the country after the Soviet takeover) was practically annihilated. The bitterness of that terror was equally shared by everybody regardless their social status. In those horrible years, people were being executed in such outrageous numbers that their executioners even ran out of ammunition, so they were carried on rafters down the river to be exploded there. This was the time when special labor (concentration) camps were set up by Soviet authorities where hundreds of thousands of innocent men and women were doing time for the crime they had never committed. What was the aim which the malicious Communist regime was pursuing by means of those atrocities? How was all that reflected on life in Georgia?
SM – I can’t say that Georgia has suffered more than other Soviet nations and ethnic groups at that terrible time. The toll of political executions here was the same as in other Soviet republics. The Jewish people were among those who had suffered the most. The Baltic Sea coast nations were sailing in the same boat. The ill-famed Holodomor (Death by hunger) was a man-made famine in the Ukrainian SSR which claimed the lives of millions there. On the other hand, in our neighboring sister republics the repressions were not as hard as in Georgia and other places.
GJ – Do you mean Armenia?
SM – Not only, but what mattered most in the process of repressions was not just who suffered how much, but the fact that Georgia was a factual reflection of processes going on in the entire Soviet Union of that time.
GJ – So what was happening in the USSR?
SM – As I said, in the years between 1921 and 1927 the Russian government chose the way of further development called NEP – the New Economic Policy, which allowed private ownership and foreign investments. Accordingly, Russia was completely immersed in the Eurasian economic dealings. In the period between WW1and WW2, the global industry went through a very big growth – about thousand times, but the capacity of trade deals had only doubled. This created many problems around the world because the market was stagnant and not compatible with the industrial growth. Russia still remained part of the global economic system up until 1927, but starting from that year, Russia closed its market to foreign goods. The Soviet government confiscated the foreign-owned enterprises and embarked on totally new economic policy. The process of collectivization and industrialization had started in the Soviet country.
GJ – What did the collectivization and industrialization mean in economic terms?
SM – The collectivization completely eradicated the capitalistic way of economic relations in rural areas. The private ownership was abolished, peasants were deprived of their property, including cattle and land, and even passports. A peasant was glued to the village forever. Economically speaking, this policy ended up in ugly consequences. For example the hunger in the Ukraine took away millions of lives. Because the peasants lost everything they had owned before, the entire harvest was grabbed and sold by the state and the revenues went directly to the state budget. The proceeds were meant to be used for the industrial development of the Soviet Union, which meant that new equipment was to be imported for factories and mills – the USSR was supposed to have its own machinery and modern technical equipment. The country was concentrated on the development of metallurgy.
GJ – Why? What made metallurgy so important in the Soviet Union?
SM – The aim was to produce as many tanks as possible and the other combat weapons too. Stalin wanted to create an army, and the army needed to be armed, clad and fed. People in various national Soviet republics had to work day and night to provide for the development of the entire country of USSR. Other segments of economy were beyond the Bolshevik concern. Stalin had practically turned the entire country into one big military camp, beginning from 1927.   
GJ – Was it Stalin’s big plan from the very first days of founding the Soviet Union to create a militaristic state out of it? 
SM – His final goal was to invade the entire world although the ruling (and the only legally operating) Communist Party and the Bolshevik government of the country insisted that they did their utmost to enhance standard of living and to improve everyday life conditions for the people. They boasted that the country was developing industrially, but nobody cared how the development reflected on an individual’s life. The year of 1928 was noted for the beginning of planning of economic development of the USSR. The first five-year plan was drawn up and approved by the Soviet government. The country was supposed to reach a certain economic level in 1932, but the unqualified specialists that worked in Russia would never fulfill that plan. On top of that, there was no sense of competition in the USSR, and as it is known, competition makes people work more efficiently, force them into modernizing the outdated enterprises and act more rationally in general.
GJ – Bring in new technologies, enhance the qualification of personnel and increase working efficiency . . .
SM – As you might believe, a hungry man is difficult to make work efficiently. In the first place, the lack of qualification will not let him do what he is supposed to do. Secondly, without an incentive nothing good may happen because the worker knows that the received salary will not even buy enough food for him and his family. Also, tests and experiments were ubiquitously punishable in the USSR. Experimenting was and is a commonplace thing in any normal country. Nations spent and continue spending huge amounts of money on scientific and industrial experiments. The picture was weird in the Soviet Union: anybody whose experiment failed to be successful was apprehended and imprisoned. This is why a specialist was not interested in creating something new and useful, or introducing a new technology. This kind of attitude would kill the desire to work even in the most prominent and curious experts and explorers of new ways of development. This is why the targeted level of development for 1932 was never achieved, and the Five-Year plan failed. The country-side was so devastated that it could not even get up to better standards in a long time. Even as late as 1991 – the year of demise of the USSR – the country could not manage to develop its agriculture to a desirable extent because it was practically killed during the First Five-Year Plan of collectivization.

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