The Western Mail, April 10th, 1931
FORCES AGAINST THE FIVE-YEAR PLAN.
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SCARCITY OF FOOD AND CLOTHING.
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HUNDREDS SHOT FOR FAILING AT THEIR JOB
By GARETH JONES.
Why cant they give us workers enough
to eat? suddenly burst out the Red-faced Russian miner in the corner
of the carriage Their Five-Year Plan indeed! All they do is to promise
us sausages and boots in a few years time! Let them give them to us now.
We cant stick it, any longer. A revolution is sure to come.
FOOD, CLOTHES AND BOOTS SCARCE
There was no meat to be had in the Co-operative Restaurant
in Rostoff. The sausages had been sold out since nine oclock in
the morning. There were a few bars of chocolate (about a 6d. size ) at
12s. per bar. There was no butter to be had except in the private market
at 10s. per lb. There was a long queue of nervy people in the restaurant.
Anybody got any silver - theres no small change?
each other asked. There were grumblings and cursings. A young worker,
slightly drunk, sidled up to me and said: Thats what they
are doing to us in Soviet Russia. The Communists are killing us workers
and peasants. Everythings bad, bad, bad. We cant get boots
and we cant get clothes. We cant get food, except bread. How
can we work all day with our bellies empty. Theres nothing in Russia.
The Five-Year Plan? Its all lies, lies, lies !
Two peasants, in their rough sheepskin coats, were furious.
The train rattled along across the North Caucasian steppes. We were talking
about the Soviet policy of making the peasants give up their land and
join collective farms. Its a dogs life, they said.
It would be better to be under the earth than to live now. They
force us to join collective farms. The very best, those who worked day
and night, were sent to Siberia a and the Urals and their houses were
taken from them. They wont let us keep more than one cow. Whats
the use of working? Its terrible.
These glimpses of life in Soviet Russia show that the
Communists are not having all their own way with the Five-Year Plan. The
difficulties are formidable and they are putting a serious brake on the
progress of the Plan. There are industrial difficulties, there are agricultural
difficulties and there are human difficulties.
What are the industrial difficulties? The first is the
weakness of workers from lack of nearly all foods except bread. Meat is
exceedingly scarce. All fats are almost impossible to obtain unless one
is a manual worker or a member of the Communist party. Even a manual worker
is rarely able to get enough. The bad quality of the goods produced under
the Five-Year Plan is another drawback. The Soviet press publishes frank
letters stating that clothes often fall to pieces in not much more than
a month after purchase. Tractors often break within a few hours of use.
This is easily understood. A factory is told to produce 1,000 tractors
by a certain date under the Five-Year Plan. The manager may be arrested,
perhaps shot or his bread-card may be taken away from him if the order
is not carried out. Hence those 1,000 tractors are turned out regardless
LACK OF SKILLED LABOUR.
The ever-growing lack of engineers and of skilled labour
is going to be a serious barrier to the success of the Plan. It is impossible
to train engineers and mechanics in a year. Often a generation ion or
more is needed to provide a trained body of workers. A South Wales collier
cannot be made in six months. He is the skilled result of generations
of experience. The Soviet Government is setting up industrial and engineering
schools everywhere but they will find out that they can not run an industrialised
State on unskilled and untrained engineers mechanics, and workers.
The railways of the U.S.S.R. are now in a state of confusion.
Terrible mistakes have been made. Men have been shot for muddling the
transport organisation. A millions tons of coal was left standing idle
in the Donetz Basin this year because there were not enough wagons and
locomotives to carry it away. Unless transport is improved and unless
the railways planned a are built in time, and, what is more, in built
well, then Five-Year Plan will be in grave danger of failing.
It has been difficult for the Soviet authorities recently
to keep the workers in the factories. They have been leaving one district
for another or returning hungry from the towns to their villages where
they have parents or brothers or cousins. The flight of workers was most
marked in the Donetz Basin, the coal, iron and steel district where 93,000
workers fled last summer. The Soviet Government has had to make regulations
which amount to the tying of workers to their factories or mines and to
the tightening of the grip of the State over the life of each citizen.
Failure in supplying factories with raw material such
as cotton or flax, &c., the famine in fuel which caused so much suffering
this winter, the disappointing results of the co-operative movement all
these have put a brake on the fulfilment of the Plan. In agriculture the
Government have had to face the opposition of masses of the peasants.
There are probably at this moment many Communists being murdered in the
villages by peasants want to at stick to their land. The wholesale massacre
of cattle and pigs which followed upon the violent campaign of collectivisation
a year ago has caused a shortage of live-stock which will affect Russia
for several years. By the class-warfare in the villages and extermination
of the richer peasants (the Kulaks) by exile, confiscation, or sometimes
by shooting, the Communists are depriving Russian agriculture of its hardest
HUNDREDS OF MEN SHOT.
There are, finally, serious human drawbacks which will
prevent the five-Year Plan making Russia into a happy prosperous country.
There is, first, the clinging of average human being to property. Secondly,
managers of factories and directors of trusts and many people in good
positions are afraid of taking responsibility. It has been dangerous.
During the last winter hundreds of men have been shot for failures in
the branches of industry in which they had leading posts. When your actions
are dictated according to a set plan and when failure may bring about
death, your feeling of initiative is sure to suffer. Another human drawback
is the stress which is laid upon political keenness and on orthodoxy rather
than on practical ability. If you are a Communist then you have a far
better chance of becoming the director of a factory than a non-Communist.
A good street-corner orator is not necessarily a good organiser. There
is thus waste of brain-power.
The building up of an ideal State is going to be handicapped
by the lack of freedom of expression which is an obstacle to the thinker,
the artist, the writer, the politician, and to the man in the street.
Finally the disillusionment which is spreading through the ranks of workers
and peasants and which contrasts so violently with the optimism of the
Communists and of youth has shattered the first fine careless rapture
of the Plan
Such are the forces fighting against the success
of the Plan. What have been the results so far? And what are the prospects
for the future? These will be dealt with in the next and final article.
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