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The Western Mail, April 11th, 1931



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The Soviet Five-Year Plan has been working for two and a half years. 

What have been the achievements?

There is no doubt that; great progress has been made in some branches of industry.  The electrical power developments have been tremendous and the output is five times that of 1913.

Air-lines now penetrate into the distant solitudes of Siberia.  A Trans-Siberian air-line will soon revolutionise the postal and passenger services between Europe and Japan.  A Welshman who flew from the South of Russia to Moscow last summer was struck by the excellent arrangements of the Soviet Aviation Company.  Under the Five-Year Plan the book trade is to develop quickly, and masses of books are now offered to the peoples of Russia at low prices.  The export of grain last year astonished the world although it was only one-half of the average pre-war exports.  The export of oil is jumping up, and the output in 1930 was almost double that of 1913.  Education is provided for under the Five-Year Plan and is progressing favourably as is the excellent propaganda for health and temperance.  New technical colleges are being established, and this part of the Plan is also succeeding. 


In spite of these achievements there have been very serious breakdowns in the Plan.  Coal production dropped rapidly last summer, and while the output in March was 4,700,000 tons, it was only 2,900,000 tons in August.  There has been a severe shortage of fuel this winter.  The coal position is gradually improving, but it will be impossible at the present rate to reach anywhere near the 83 million - tons aimed at this year.  Nevertheless, the output will develop, and the figure for 1930 (47,000,000 tons) was a two-thirds increase ever the 1913 figure. 

The Moscow Trial showed that the Five-Year Plan was doing badly in many branches.  While the first year of the Plan was a success, the second was disappointing to the Communists.  Production did increase, but it was at the expense of quality and at the expense of the standard of living of the workers.  Transport was disorganised throughout the country.  The lack of skilled labour was felt keenly.  These difficulties are going to increase with the extra burdens which the Plan places on the country. 

The rapid speed at which Stalin is trying to industrialise Russia has led to great hunger and suffering.  Food is scarce.  The health of the nation may be affected by the present privations.  The discontent of the masses has been tremendous, and there has been talk of revolution against the Communists.  There has been a wave of hatred against Stalin which has spread into the Communist party.  The anti-Stalin group is called the Right Wing Opposition, and it is strong in the rank and file of the party and in the country. 

As I walked past the Kremlin, the citadel where Stalin lives, I saw sentries everywhere, and in one place where the rampart was broken a Red soldier walked up and down with his painted bayonet ready. 

Stories are whispered about Stalin in corners of trains. 


Here is a typical story told me in the Donetz Basin:- Stalin had a dream in which Lenin appeared to him.

“Hello, Stalin!  How are you?“  asks Lenin.

“Oh, I’m fine,” replies Stalin.

“How is Russia?”

“Oh, splendid,” says Stalin.  “You know, we have our Five-Year Plan now and our achievements are amazing.”

“Really.” says Lenin.  “And what are you going to do when the Five-Year Plan is over?”

“Oh, we’ll have another Five-Year Plan.”

Then Lenin crushes Stalin by saying:

“By that time every man, woman, and child in Russia will have died and joined me, and you’ll be the only man left to carry out your second Five-Year Plan.”

Stalin has disgraced the leaders of the Right Wing Opposition, Rykoff, Tomsky, and Bukharin, and has placed his own men in key positions.  The Right Wing Communists want to slow down the Plan and pay more attention to the happiness of the working class.  Stalin is at present supreme, but if there is much more hunger and suffering his position will be weakened.  This would not mean, however, the breakdown of the Communist regime, but the victory of the moderates in the party. 


What of the future?  He would be a daring man who would venture to prophesy the future of Russia.  The figures at which the Bolsheviks aim are fantastic and can never be carried out by 1933.  But as far as one is able to judge Soviet Russia will in time be able to increase her exports of coal, grain, oil, and timber. 

Her shipments of coal abroad are at present small, but she is trying to get a foothold in several British markets and such as Italy.  Her exports of grain will depend on the harvest, but if her crop is as good this year as it was last year, then Canada is going to suffer still further and the grain market will be seriously disturbed.  Russia’s oil supplies are vast and she will continue to increase her oil exports.  Her timber will also continue to hit Canada, the Scandinavian States and the Baltic States, and France. 

Soviet Russia will probably, therefore, be a competitor in such natural products as coal, grain, oil, timber, and furs.  Where manufactured goods are concerned, however, it will be a. long time before she will gain the experience and the skill and the organisation of the Western countries.  Moreover, Russia herself will be a market absorbing vast quantities of manufactured goods and her need for machinery from abroad to make the goods will be great for a long time yet. 


Soviet Russia’s trade system, by which export and import are a State monopoly, enables her to sell at any price.  If she makes a large profit on oil, then she can afford to sell grain or coal far below cost price.  The Soviet Union has become one vast centralised business concern controlling 158,000,000 people with a miserable standard of living.  So far the Five-Year Plan has been a mixture of successes and failures.  It is increasing the production of Russia, but at the expense of quality and human happiness.  Difficulties galore lie in its path, but if these difficulties are overcome, then Soviet Russia will be a powerful competitor. 

The success of the Plan would strengthen the hands of the Communists throughout the world.  It might make the twentieth century a century of struggle between Capitalism and Communism.


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