Stalins economic policies were successful, to what extent do you agree?

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Eloise Dugmore

Stalin’s economic policies were successful, to what extent do you agree?

Stalin’s economic policies consisted mainly of two factors, Collectivisation and the Five Year Plans. Stalin’s economic policies were definitely a success to some extent, especially when referring to the increase in production and number of workers that were free to move to industry due to collectivisation. These were two of Stalin’s main aims, therefore economically and politically his policies were highly successful. However when judging the extent of this success we must consider the huge social suffering that was caused due to these polices, as in my opinion these disastrous failures outweigh the contrasting success’s.

One of Stalin’s aims was to achieve rapid industrialisation in the Soviet Union, in order to protect it from the threat of war. Stalin said that ‘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 we shall be crushed.’ This shows that he believed the need to industrialise quickly was just as important as the need to industrialise. To achieve this Stalin set up ambitious targets known as the Five Year Plans (FYP) to encourage his workers to accomplish rapid industrialisation.

Stalin’s aims for the FYP’s were partially achieved. Especially during the first FYP emphasis was placed on the heavy industry for example, coal, iron, steel and electricity. In most areas Stalin set the target to double production. In December 1932 it was announced that the first FYP had been so successful that it was to finish a year early, although when looking at the figures many of the targets had not been reached, all raw material production had hugely increased. In addition to the funding it received, increased production in heavy industry was achieved by improving efficiency in existing factories, as well as developing new industrial plants.

Stalin used the impressive statistics of increased production in heavy industry as evidence of his wise leadership and the triumph of socialism in Russia. Nonetheless, behind soviet propaganda lay a chaotic economy in which the struggle to meet targets created enormous inefficiencies and low labour productivity. Although it cannot be denied that production had greatly increased by the end of the first FYP, many of the official targets were never met. Party officials who did not meet their production targets were demoted, sacked or in some case executed as enemies of the state. This fear forced some officials to lie about the amount of raw materials produced, making it appear that targets had been met, when in reality many factories were lagging behind. Also because the targets only referred to the amount of product created and not the quality large proportion of materials produced were of such a poor quality that they were effectively useless. Improving living standards was never an objective of the plan, so to some extent the decline of living standards cannot be judged a failure but it does indicate that the plan was poorly formulated, and Stalin was willing to sacrifice the social aspects of his country to improve the economic. During the first FYP record production was accompanied by a decline of living standards and further restrictions in personal freedom.

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The targets for the second FYP were more realistic than the First, and its achievements were more modest. The government announced again that the targets had been met a year early and in fact been overfilled by 3%, the output of steel for example trebled, largely due to production from the new plants such as Magnitogorsk. One of the aims of the second FYP was to improve transport which was a success as the first lines of the Moscow metro were built in 1935. Additionally, the Moscow-Volga Canal was completed between 1932 and 1937. The canal allowed the transportation of ...

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