Magnitogorsk Essay

1201 words - 5 pages

During the post World War I era, many European countries were rebuilding, and the Soviet Union saw this as a chance to catch up. The Soviet Union, under Joseph Stalin’s rule, implemented the five-year plan as strategy for rapid industrialization (Hunt, 846). A great example of Stalin’s five-year plan was the construction of Magnitogorsk, a city based around a massive factory. This construction flawlessly captured Stalin’s goals for progression, efficiency, and conquering nature (back cover). The novel Time, Forward! took place in 1932 and described, in detail, the construction of Magnitogorsk. This novel hinted at the spirit of the times. In the novel, one of the engineers, Margulies, decided to push concrete pouring to its limits. His rival, assistant chief of construction, Nalbandov wanted the downfall of Margulies, and decided to write him up. Nalbandov thought of two charges. The first was that Margulies recklessly sacrificed the quality of the cement for more cement production; this recklessness went against the current scientific understanding of concrete, and the quality would not suffice. The second would show Margulies going against Soviet policies of increasing tempos, as he did not allow the next shift to pour an even larger amount of concrete (314). The second charge was less scientific, but it was more in the spirit of the times because those who hindered progress should be punished. One may wonder, what was the spirit of the times? When Joseph Stalin came into power, he instilled in the public sphere that the Soviet Union would no longer accept backwardness (Hunt, 846). The spirit of the times was all about progress, efficiency, and conquering nature; this spirit is what pushed the Soviet Union away form their backwardness and inspired art and politics at the time.
Above all, the spirit of the times embodied progression. Stalin realized the need for industrialization in the late 1920s. He warned, “Without an end to economic backwardness, the advanced countries will crush us” (Hunt, 846). A few years later, in 1931, the construction of Magnitogorsk began. In the novel, a character noted, “A year and a half ago this was an utter desert – a wild parched steppe.” (118). In just over one year, an entire city was created. This statement shows how rapidly construction occurred, and it was all for the sake of progression. Politically, the industrialization of this area was key for success because of its abundance of raw materials. Stalin wanted to industrialize this area because a nearby mountain contained an enormous amount of ore, a key raw material for industrialization (95). The spirit of the times was expressed in this city from the day of its creation, and the spirit could be found almost everywhere you looked.
For instance, this novel showed the factory’s progression when it talked about breaking cement production records. Margulies took the most up to date cement calculations, and used them to set a new record. Margulies’s idea...

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