Stalin Speech 1946

3 Points

1) Stalin concludes that capitalism caused the atrocity that was WWII. Capitalism inevitably leads to crisis and conflict because of inequality. When nations compete rather than cooperate, uneven development occurs. Nations who feel they were cheated or are simply falling behind will try to redistribute spheres of influence by force. Perhaps a periodic redistribution of resources between national economies could have avoided this catastrophic war. One of the major flaws of the Marxist idea of a worldwide proletariat revolution was that everyone must be on board, which is what Stalin proposed here. However, he framed it as though capitalism would not have failed if they had been on board with socialism rather than the inverse.

2) The Soviet social system, state system, and Red Army were victorious. Not only does the USSR’s victory in WWII prove the viability of its ways, it asserts their superiority over non-Soviet systems. The war put the whole world to the test and the USSR passed where capitalist countries failed or came close to failing. The strengths and weaknesses of all participating nations were exposed “without make-up.” This was a good seed to plant in the minds of the Soviet people because it was the foundation for the need to expand the Soviet ways later on.

3) The USSR’s victory in WWII was due to the first three Five Year Plans. Nationalization of industry enabled rapid industrialization. The USSR went from an agricultural state to a heavily industrialized state in about thirteen years. Collectivization of agriculture increased output of much needed resources such as food and textiles. The collective method of large scale farming was achieved much faster than the capitalist method could have been. Since the USSR increased output where needed so efficiently, the troops were not only well supplied on the front lines, but they even had a surplus.

2 Questions

1) Though Stalin spoke convincingly, was he flawed in saying that the Soviet system was better than all others? (The US and Great Britain also won the war.)

2) Stalin focused entirely on the USSR as a nation when discussing performances before, during, and after WWII. How were individuals in the USSR affected through these turbulent years?

1 Interesting Observation

1) Stalin repeated how collectivism and nationalization enabled rapid expansion of resources for the war, both industrial and agricultural. This trend of rapid industrialization fits Alexander Gerschenkron’s (a Russian-born American Jewish economic historian) hypothesis: the later a nation industrializes, the more government intervention there will be in the economy. He believed that nations developing later than others could not stand the test of time required by gradual, hands off industrialization. Therefore, nations like the USSR had to expedite the process of catching up to more developed nations using heavy government intervention.