The Spirit Of The Times: Progress And Industrialization During Stalin’s Five Year Plans

1384 words - 6 pages

In the USSR, during the first of Joseph Stalin’s five-year plans, it was a cutthroat, hard working place in time. Stalin was forced to put this plan in place because he wanted to have a competitive industry with the rest of the world. Stalin himself said it best when he was quoted saying, ”We are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this distance in ten years. Either we do it, or they will crush us.” In order to have a better incite for what it was like for the workers of this time, a great resource would be the book Time, Forward! by Valentine Kataev.
The book is centered upon a concrete plant during the first of Stalin’s five-year plans, and the plans push to break the record for most concrete poured in a single day. In the book one of the characters, Georgi Nikolayevich Nalbodov, is thinking of a way in which to undermine his rival, David Lvovich Margulies. Margulies is in charge of one of the sectors and decides on the amount of concrete that is poured while also having the responsibility to make the highest quantity while still not disrupting the quality if the concrete. While thinking about how to undermine Margulies, Nalbondov decides upon “two contradictory charges” in which he could write a report on. The first was that “Margulies permitted the number of mixtures to increased to four hundred and twenty-nine per shift, thereby endangering the quality of the concrete.” To Nalbondov this charge seemed more scientific. The second charge was “in violation of the resolution of the Party, urging every possible effort to increase tempos”. This charge was “less scientific, but was more in the spirit of the times”. (Kataev, 314) The “spirit of the times” in which Nalbondov was talking about was the ideas of industrialization and progress. This “spirit” drove much of the arts (modernism) and the politics (communism) of the day. This “spirit” can be seen referenced throughout all of Time, Forward!
When Nalbondov speaks of the “spirit of the times” I believe that the “spirit” that he is talking about is industrialization and progress. These ideas are shown throughout Time, Forward! and were the main focus of the USSR after Stalin originally became leader. The reason why Stalin desired so badly to “westernize” during the time was because he thought that his country would have to fight and struggle to industrialize in order to catch up to it’s Western European counterparts and ultimately in order to remain free. During the old regime Russia had been thought of as behind the times and they wanted to change that and become a serious world power and to do this Stalin set up his five-year plans.
There is evidence of industrialization and progress all over Time, Forward! The most important time we see this in the book is when you see that the record of concrete poured in a day is broken by the Chelyaba plant one day after it is broken by the plant located in Kharkov. This shows that there is active...

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