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The Western Mail, April 8th, 1931

Russia's Future

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 October 1, 1928, was a Red Letter Day in the history of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It was the day on which the Five-Year Plan was launched. The hopes of the Communists were high. Although they only numbered 1 1/2  millions out of a population of over 150 millions, they were determined to make Russia into an industrialised Communist State.

 Wherever one went one saw huge banners stretched from one lamp-post to another across the street with the words, “Let us reply to the furious arming of the capitalists by carrying out the Five-Year Plan,” or “God and the drunkard are the enemies of the Five-Year Plan.” The cinemas had films explaining what the Five-Year Plan was.

 At street corners, in factories, in villages, Communists would harangue the crowds and tell them of the three main aims of the Plan and how its fulfilment would bring them health and happiness and save them from being attacked and murdered by the foreigner who was waiting to pounce on Mother Russia.


This is what the factory workers, the peasants, the teachers, and the miners learned as they listened, open-mouthed, to the Bolshevik orators. They learned that the Five-Year Plan had three great aims. It would first of all convert the Russia of the peasant into the Russia of the mechanic; it would industrialise Russia and set up factories and mines every­where. It would, secondly, turn the millions of strips the private property of the small peasants into big Socialist farms, where the land would be owned in common and where the tractor and the latest machinery would double or treble the amount of grain produced. It would, thirdly, exterminate all capitalist elements. That meant that by 1933 every hawker, shopkeeper, barber, tailor who worked or sold for his own profit and not for a State shop or co-operative shop would disappear. That meant also that the individual peasant who had his own land would be no more.


With its three aims, the industrialisation of Russia, the socialization of agriculture, and the extermination of the private trader, the Five-Year Plan is the most thorough revolution which has ever been attempted in the history of the world. 

What it seeks to achieve in the industrial field is stupendous. The exact figures of what production must be in each year up to 1933 are worked out. Did not the whole daring of the scheme take one's breath away, one might almost be compelled to laugh at some of its stipulations. For example, it was laid down that the average number of eggs eaten per head by the people in the towns between October 1, 1932, and September 30, 1933, was to be 155. The allowance of boots was to increase from 0.40 of a pair in 1927-28 to 0.74 of a pair in 1932-33!

In other branches of industry the progress planned is enormous. 


 Take coal. In 1913 Russia produced 29 million tons of coal. By the year preceding the Five-Year Plan this had increased to 35 million tons. By the end of the Five-Year Plan it is planned to produce 125,000,000 tons of coal! That is almost five times as much as in 1913!  This year the figure is to leap up to 83 million tons. 

The Donetz Basin takes the first place In the Soviet coal plans. Its output is to increase from 27 million tons in 1927-28 to 70 million tons in 1933. The Donetz Basin has thus undertaken the task of more than doubling its coal production within live years. An immense construction programme is being carried out; seventeen new large shafts have recently been sunk. By the end of the Plan 50 large new mines will be in process of construction. The very face of the Donetz Basin is to be changed. Mechanisation is to go ahead full-speed, and a great housing programme is to be carried out. 

Then comes what is known as the sleeping giant of Russia, the Kuznetz Basin in Siberia. Its coal reserve is estimated at the incredible figure of 300 billion tons. Eight new large wines are to be constructed in the Kuznetz Basin. Its output will be small at the end of the Plan, viz., Six million tons, but the Soviet authorities intend to push ahead its development after the Five-Year Plan is over. The Ural coat region is to increase its production from two million tons in 1927-28 to six million tons in 1932-33. 

The Moscow district, where there are large reserves of low-grade coal, comes next. Its output is to increase from one million to four or five million tons between the first and the last year of the Plan. Even in the far-off Soviet lands of Central Asia and Transcaucasia coal development plans are to be pushed ahead.


 There is going to be a great drive in increasing the production of iron and steel.

 The iron and steel mills in the two important metallurgical regions of the country (the Donetz Basin and the Urals) are to be rebuilt. Many new blast furnaces are to be constructed. 

The output of oil is to reach 42,000,000 tons by 1933.  This is a tremendous rate of increase compared with the 11,000,000 tons of 1927-28.

The production of agricultural machinery, of copper, zinc, lead, aluminium, boilers, textiles-indeed, of all goods, is to be doubled or trebled. This year 1931 is to see the production of Russia increase by 45 per cent!

 Wages are to be doubled. New factories of all kinds arc to be built. Electrification is to go ahead rapidly. A net­work of railways is to be constructed at breakneck speed, opening new regions to industry and trade. Waterways and roads are to be developed to carry the ever-growing amount of goods produced.

 The Plan-as a Plan - is, indeed, stupendous.


 In the realm of agriculture the Plan is no less ambitious. It is attempting to revolutionise the Russian village. Large collective farms are being set up. The “Kulak” class (the peasants owning three or more cows and employing labour) is to be crushed out of existence. The policy of collectivisation aims at doing away with the millions of individually owned patches and strips and at establishing large farms run by machinery and owned in common. The peasants are allowed to keep their cottage, one cow chickens, perhaps a pig or two, but the tractors and the land are common property The Communists are aiming a converting 50 per cent. of the peasants of Russia into members of collective farm by the end of this year. If that succeeds it will be a striking revolution in the lives of the 130,000,000 of Russian peasants. Besides these “collectives,” vast State farms, covering hundreds of thousands of acres, are to be set up. These are to produce millions of tons of grain for export. The timber and the fur plans are also exceedingly high. 

If the Five-Year Plan were carried out in full, then it would revolutionise the life and the trade of the whole world. 

Will it be carried out?  This problem is puzzling, worrying and tormenting the men and women in all countries. In following articles an attempt will be made to answer this vital question. 


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