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The Western Mail, April 9th, 1931



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Peasants’ Submissiveness.

Methods which Britons would not tolerate.


In the following article - the third of a series of five- Mr. Gareth Jones examines the factors which promise success to the Russian Communists’ Five­Year Plan of economic recovery.

It is one side of the picture. The other side, revealing the drawbacks of the Plan, will be dealt with by the writer to-morrow.

Mr. Gareth Jones, son of Major Edgar Jones Barry, has recently returned from a visit to Russia. He is a fluent speaker of the Russian language and keeps in close touch with the Soviet daily newspapers.

As reported below, he has just been appointed foreign affairs secretary to Mr. Ivy Lee, who is “public relations counsel” to a number of important manufacturing companies. 


 “We are in a state of war,” said a Bolshevik Commissar as he showed a Welsh visitor the latest machinery in his factory.  “Russia is fighting a war at construction, the war to build up the Socialist State and to change the whole face of the earth.  We are fighting a battle royal for the Five-Year Plan.”  There are forces in Russia which will help the Communist to win the war of the Five-Year Plan.  There are forces which will tend to defeat them.  It is, indeed, a battle royal. 

Let us try to sum up the two armies, the army of factors which are on the side of the success of the Five-Year Plan and the army of difficulties and drawbacks which may defeat the Communists. 


The first factor which will help the Bolsheviks to win the battle is the vast resources of Russia.  Think of the amount of coal untouched stored beneath the soil of the Soviet Union. Her forests cover an area of about 2,000 million acres, by far the largest lumber supplies in the world. Riches untold lie within her boundaries.

Oil? More than one-third of the whole worlds oil reserves are believed to by within her borders.  Corn?  The south of Russia deserves the name of the granary of the world.  Cotton and flax?  Gold?  Platinum?  Iron ore?  All these are abundant.

The Five-Year Plan will be helped the stability of the regime.  The Bolsheviks seem to have come to stay.  A revolution against the Communists seems impossible.  Any attempt at by rising is at once nipped in the bud by the O.G.P.U. (the State political police).  This feared body has power of life and death and it members have the right to shoot a counter revolutionary without trial.  In any case Soviet justice is on the side of the regime and the law courts are used to suppress any enemies of the Five-Year Plan.  Law courts,” says Krylenko, the Public Prosecutor of the Soviet Government, are organs for disposing of the enemies of the Revolution.”  Not only the O.G.P.U., which has a well-trained army of about 130,000 men, with the best weapons and aeroplanes, but also the Red Army will probably support the regime. 

It is well fed and it is taught Communist doctrine.  Recently a decree was issued to the effect that 60 per cent, of the Army must be composed of workers.  This will make the Army more Communist and make less likely the repetition of the troubles which arose among the peasants in the Red Army last year.  With the O.G.P.U. and the Red Army on their side the Soviet Government can concentrate on the carrying out of the Five-Year Plan. 


Modern inventions make the grip over Russia firmer and help the Government to force on the Plan.  The wireless, the theatre, the cinema, spread Communist ideals throughout Russia, while the machine-gun, poison-gas, and the aeroplane are invaluable in crushing any opposition which may arise. 

The next factor which will help the Five-Year Plan is the character of Stalin, the dictator.  This ruthless, honest man is just the man to drive a nation.  He is brutal and has no mercy.  He allows nothing to stand in his way when his mind is made up.  This son of a Caucasian shoemaker and of a washerwoman is a brilliant organiser.  Without material he has one aim in life - to make the Five-Year Plan a success. 

The enthusiasm of youth is going to be force which will help the Plan.  For many young people Communism has the power of religion.  They would sacrifice their lives willingly for the sake of the Plan. They would obey the command of the Communist party to leave their homes and to work in a mine in the depths of Siberia, just as a missionary would plunge for the sake of Christianity into the savage forests of Africa. They would work nine, ten, eleven, twelve hours, they would give up all their leisure for the success of the Five-Year Plan. 


Sitting in a circus in Moscow a Welsh-man made friends with a fair-haired Russian boy aged thirteen. “Would you like to go to Britain?”  he asked the boy.  The boy was shocked.  “No, never,” he said; “it must be terrible there in a capitalist country where all the workers are oppressed.  I am sorry for them.  But they will be Communist one day, because we young people are going to make the Five-Year Plan a success.  Won’t it be fine when we’ve turned Russia into a country of factories? I’d do anything to make the Five-Year Plan a success and so would a lot of my schoolfellows. 

That is the spirit which is going to push the plan ahead rapidly.  The youth of Russia is being trained to devote itself to the Five-Year Plan by the excellent work done for education in Russia.  The State is sparing no efforts to set up schools and to teach reading and writing to young and old.  “We must give the workers books, but we do not give them boots,” said a Communist to me. 

The command which is the State has over the lives of the worker is also a factor which will weigh in favour of the Plan.  If there is a shortage of labour in the forests of the North, then many thousands of workers or peasants can be drafted to fill the gap.  In January when the transport was failing, the Commissar of labour issued an order by which all employees who had at any time been engaged in railway work of any kind had to report within five days and take any job offered in whatever part of the country where the Labour Exchange might send them. 


The State deprives the population of most commodities in order to get money to invest in industry and to buy machinery from abroad.  Foreign trade is a Government monopoly.  Thus no luxuries are imported, and butter, eggs, grain, and bacon, badly needed at home, are exported to get currency wherewith to buy tractors, textile-making machinery, and engines necessary to carry out the Plan. 

The character of the peoples who form the Soviet Unions is another force which enables the Communists to press forward in industrialising.  The average Russian is long-suffering, and having been a serf up to 1861 he has never tasted liberty.  A British worker would never allow himself to be commandeered and deprived of his food and of his liberty as the Russian does.  Bill Smith or John Jones would very soon stand up for his rights!  But the Russian is submissive and lets the rulers go on ruling. 

In agriculture there are very many forces which will help the Communists to carry out their Plan.  Last year’s wonderful harvest was a great stroke of good fortune for their policy of collectivisation.  The use of machines which the Communists advocate is bound to increase the production of grain in the flat stretches of fertile land in South Russia.  A great deal, however, will depend upon the number and the quality of the tractors which can be produced under the Five-Year Plan, modern methods and excellent research Russian scientists will campaign for turning the into modern farms run by machinery. Tremendous State farms (covering hundreds of thousands of acres), where the workers are wage-earners, have been set up in the virgin steppes.  These will be able to provide grain for the Red Army and for export.  Large State pig and cattle farms are to be to make up for the terrible shortage of meat which was caused by the peasants massacring their cattle a year ago, when being forced to join the Communist collective farms. 

Those are the forces on Stalin’s side.  It is a formidable army.  Surely, you will say with all those factors fighting for the Communists they will make a resounding success of the Plan. This is, however, but one side of the picture.  The army of difficulties and drawbacks is also powerful.  What the forces are which are fighting against the Five-Year Plan will be shown in the next article.


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