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In The Context Of The Period 1825 1937, To What Extent Was The First Five Year Plan (1928 1933) The Most Successful Change To Russian Economic Output?

4029 words - 17 pages

The period 1928 to 1933 marked a transition, perhaps the most decisive turning point in the history of the country of Russia. While the NEP system was not formally repudiated, official policies increasingly came to contradicts fundamental assumptions. The first five year plan (1928-1933) could be construed as a general success even though it did have its moment of failure. The first five year plan was introduced in Russia in an attempt to catch up with the more advanced west. As Stalin said 'We are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this distance in ten years.' The focus of the first five year plan on heavy industry made huge strides in modernising ...view middle of the document...

Exports such as grain, increased from 0.3 million tons in 1928 to 1.69 million tons in 1933. This helped significantly with the economies output as Russia was receiving more money from foreign countries in that the government could then spend on new, modern technology to further increase production .However Collectivisation under Stalin came to a halt when the Kulaks resisted his plan. The Kulaks fiercely refused to collectivise their farms and cooperate in giving their grain harvest to the government. This made grain output slump this is shown when the overall grain output in 1928 was 73.3 million tons and then two years after the first five year plan grain output had declined to 67.6 million tons in 1934 . These output figures are in stark contrast to the relative success in improving output seen under new economic policy. During the new economic policy grain produce increased from 37.3 million tonnes to 51.4 million tons which shows more of a growth in economic output than the first five year plan boasts with collectivisation. New economic policy however was in a time of recovery and so the economic output figures for the new economic policy are bound to be greater than that of the figures in collectivisation.

One key problem in raising output through agricultural collectivisation was that the more successful peasants - branded ‘Kulaks’ – refused to adhere to Stalin’s plan and impeded collectivisation which led to agriculture being badly damaged after the first five year plan resulting in it not recovering until the end of the Second World War. Since the government desperately needed capital for investment in industry, it tried to economise by keeping grain prices low. The unwillingness of the peasants to sell to the government at artificially low prices directly threatened the ambitious industrialisation program.

Peasants viewed Dekulakization as serfdom all over again which led them to resist more, peasants would resist in ways that would delay agricultural productions. As Sheila Fitzpatrick has suggested in her study of the Russian peasantry, 'some forms of resistance included stealing, ignoring instructions, refusal to sow the fields and overall sluggishness’ . Due to the resistance, there wasn’t enough grain to farm thus McNeil observing that this in turn lead to a larger problem in that, 'As a result, a famine occurred from 1932 until 1933' . The peasants were devastated by the famine and the government didn't do anything to help the situation. The-year long famine was man-made and not caused by the weather what so ever. Had Lenin's NEP plan still been in effect, none of this devastation would have happened .The evidence for NEP, most recently collated by Danilov, shows for a start that by the mid-twenties grain yields and harvests had matched or even substantially exceeded the pre-revolution 1909-1913 benchmark. The arable hectarage devoted to relatively input-intensive, high yielding commodity (industrial) crops had doubled....

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