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An Analysis Of Soviet Economic Development From The Years 1928 To 1967

1665 words - 7 pages

Since the late 1920's Soviet economic planners almost obsessively concentrated on the development of heavy industry. They did this for the sake of developing more heavy industry--especially the expansion of steel production.Under the First Five-Year Plan Soviet steel production (5.9 million tons) fell far short of the prescribed target of 10 million tons: but large-scale industrial production more than doubled, new blast furnaces were constructed and old ones modernized, and the foundations were laid for a Ural iron and steel center at Magnitogorsk and a western-Siberian one in the Kuznetsk basin (Kuzbas).The Second Five-Year Plan brought a spectacular rise in steel production more than 17 million tons, placing the Soviet Union not far behind Germany as one of the major steel-producing countries of the world. As was the case with the other five-year plans, the second was not uniformly successful, failing to reach the recommended production levels in such crucial areas as coal, oil, and cement production.The first two years of the Third Five-Year Plan proved to be even more of a disappointment in terms of proclaimed production goals. Even so, the value of these goals and of the coordination of an entire economy's development of central planning has been undeniable. For the 12% to 13% rate of annual industrial growth attained in the Soviet Union during the 1930's has few parallels in the economic history of other countries. What is more, this high rate of growth was resumed after World War II and continued into the early fifties, after which it has gradually declined.The collectivisation of agriculture seems to have been a necessary prerequisite for the launching of the First Five-Year Plan. In 1928 80% of approximately 150 million Soviet citizens were engaged in agriculture. By the late twenties the peasant population, which was broken up into 25 million families, had greatly improved its relative position in Soviet society as a result of the Revolution and NEP. Peasants were no longer forced to surrender a large part of their surplus income to the state, as they had been during tsarist times, in order to finance the government's industrialization program; and they lived better and consumed a greater part of their own agricultural production than ever before.In 1928 the peasants demonstrated their ability to organize effective resistance when the Soviet state tried to collect grain forcibly and at prices unfavourable to the peasants. Collectivisation was calculated to eliminate effective peasant opposition to the policies of the Soviet state by reducing the number of separate units in the agricultural population from 25 million independent families to several hundred thousand collective farms.Although state control over these collective farms was by no means complete, it was effective enough to assure the delivery to the state of compulsory quotas of agricultural products and to oblige the peasants to accept the discriminatory taxation and the low...

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