Jawaharlal Nehru

In order to progress India’s society, Jawaharlal Nehru analyzed the different forms of government around the world, specifically Marxism and Capitalism. Nehru admits that violence is present in both forms of government, but Marxism appealed more to Nehru because of the lesser amount of violence. Due to this appeal, India ended up adopting a Marxist form of government and adopting five year plans similar to that of Russia. Nehru believed that because India was such an underdeveloped nation, Marxism was the only way it could progress and succeed in the world because of the careful amounts of planning put into this kind of government. Interesting to note is the fact that after completing their first five year plan, India decided to stay neutral and stay out of foreign countries affairs. They chose this path because they believe the less countries interact and interfere with each other, the more likely it is that a peaceful outcome will occur.

Summary of Marxism, Capitalism, and non-Alignment

Jawaharlal Nehru was India’s first Prime Minister after India had gained its independence in 1947 ((Nehru. Marxism, Capitalism, and non-Aligment. Modern History Sourcebook)). When he was writing, India was trying to find a from of government that would help them develop quickly. Nehru saw the violence in both Marxism and Capitalism but saw Marxism being much less violent and how it was only violent to gain peace for the people. In the end, India took a form of Marxism as their from of government and used Five Year Plans to develop. It was not the only one with success with the Five Year Plan. Many countries in Asia took on plans similar to that of India and were experience great economic growth just like India. After seeing Egypt and Hungary have a fall though, India decided it would stay out of other countries affairs not only to help themselves but the world. Nehru though that letting a country figure out its own problem would help Asian countries understand each other. India would be friendly to all countries, and this would bring about world peace.

Nazi-Soviet Pact/Stalin’s Speech

The first of Wednesday’s readings, the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, was a document that created a mutually beneficial, albeit brief, truce between Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia. Although both countries had fundamentally different political systems and ambitions, Russia favored entering into a non-aggression pact because it knew that Germany was a highly industrialized, blossoming state that posed them a significant threat. Stalin knew that if Hitler chose to strike Russia, they would not be adequately prepared to defend themselves. At first the truce benefitted Germany because once they decided to engage most of Europe, they knew that they would not be required to fight a two-front war as they had to do in the past during WWI. Hitler saw fit to violate this pact, which it appears to have been his intention all along, because it was part of his political ideology to remove the Jewish problem in the east in order to make room for the Lebensraum to house the burgeoning German population. He believed that Russia could be easily taken, allowing Germans to reclaim the territory that is rightfully theirs, from the Bolshevik/Jewish “menace.”

The second of Wednesday’s readings, Stalin’s speech form 1946, was the speech that highlighted his re-election campaign. In this speech he attributed Russia’s victory to the effectiveness of the country’s Soviet system. Stalin adamantly professed the efficacy of the system when he stated, “The issue now is no longer the viability of the Soviet state system, because there can be no doubt about its viability…” While it is true that Russia was much more effective fending off Germany in WWII than WWI, Stalin asserted that no other system could have achieved such positive results. While arguing for the efficacy of his Five Year plans, he compared Russia’s output in 1941 to that of 1913. He used suspect reasoning while justifying his argument with these statistics because Russia was in such a dismal state of affairs in 1913 that the gains experienced during this interval of time could in fact be considered, “the simple and ordinary development of a country from backwardness to progress.” Once Germany violated their Non-Aggression pact, Russia was put on the defensive and nearly taken over by Germany. For a nation as large and populous as Russia, the industrialization achieved by 1941 was still relatively lackluster. When Stalin stated in his speech that “it does not resemble the picture of the way our army was supplied during the First World War, when the front suffered chronic shortages of artillery and shells, when the army fought without tanks and aircraft, and when one rifle was issue for every three men,” he is partially incorrect because that was the Red Army’s state of affairs for much of the first half of the war. During the battle of Stalingrad troops were sent into battle rifleless, similarly to WWI. Also, Stalin was forced to pass order #227, which stated that any man who made an attempt to retreat was to be gunned down by his own troops who were stationed in the rear of the lines.[1] He failed to take into consideration the fact that any population facing the brink of total annihilation will do anything in their power to survive by focusing the entire nation’s efforts and resources towards the war effort, regardless of what system is in place. Stalin used the Russian victory as a springboard to launch his reelection campaign. He only highlighted the positive aspects of the war, which obviously cumulated with a Soviet victory against their antagonistic, Nazi-German enemy. What he chose to exclude from his speech was the 21 to 28 million deaths that the Soviet Union experienced during the war – far more than any other participating nation.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_No._227

Non-Aggression Pact and Stalin’s Speech

In 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact that paved the way for WWII. Some of the provisions in the pact included a ban on aggression or violence between the two countries, information dealing with the interests of both countries was to be exchanged, and disputes were to be settled through “friendly exchange …or through the establishment of arbitration commissions.” This pact had benefits for both parties. Stalin recognized that his army was not strong enough to stand up against the German military, and his country was not in the economic position to go to war. Germany was very much prepared for war, and this pact gave Germany clear access to Poland. In addition to the main provisions, possibilities of how to divide land after the war were discussed between both parties. However, this pact was broken on June 22, 1941, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union.

While Germany went back on the non-aggression pact, the Soviet Union had enough time to build up industrialization, productivity, and properly arm the Red Army. In Stalin’s speech, WWII is presented as an obstacle that was overcome by Soviet Organization and planning. Stalin points out earlier shortcomings, such as the ill-equipped nature of the Red Army during WWI. However, industrialization increased rapidly, and to give an example, five and a half times more coal was produced in 1940 than was produced in 1913. In the speech, Stalin stressed how Soviet organization was able to overcome the challenges of war, and stated capitalism is the root of catastrophic wars. While this speech was given to members of his electorate district, the speech has far ranging messages. Soviet greatness allowed the USSR to overcome the horrors of war, industrialize rapidly, and avoid the capitalism which created the terrible world wars. While the non-aggression treaty was broken in 1941, it allowed for enough time to build up the Soviet economy and army.


Five Cheers for Five Year Plans?

When collectivization started, it opened a new chapter in Soviet economics, while closing another.  With the ending of the NEP that attempted to use the private sector to bring Russia away from its perceived ‘backwardness’, the Five Year Plans were implemented to achieve the same goal.  However, as Lewin in On Soviet Industrialization describes, it was at great cost.

Lewin begins by establishing that he declares the NEP to be too weak and did not encompass enough of the economy to be successful.  He states that the “NEP showed signs of not coping”, which could eventually lead to an economic crisis (273).  Unfortately, as Lewin continues, it is clear that the Five Year Plans were not better, possibly even worse.  Beginning with the first plan that ended a year early which plunged the entire economy into chaos, it was unclear what the future of the system was going to be.  Since there was no incentive for workers to be productive, unlike in the NEP, the end of quarters always became mad dashes for quotas and manipulation of books became rampant.  Lewin attributes this to the command system, where there were simply too many superiors making too many demands causing resources to be stretched too thin or not to be created at all.    Lewin concludes that this ruined “initiative from below” (283), with too many bureaucratic layers and leaders with self-interests.

The Five Year Plans quickly enveloped the entire economic system, where so many citizens had to sacrifice so little.  This is an economic system that should not be celebrated.

Industrialization- Five Year Fail

The first five year plan was doomed to fail from the start.  It was not directly correlated to the policy of mass collectivization (which also resulted in failure) and or the agricultural crisis as a whole.  But rather the five year plan failed due to lack of logistics and special knowledge to operate heavy machinery.  This coupled with weak national agriculture and widespread food shortage led to hungry workers and no means to refuel lost energy of factory workers.  Stalin would see this as would his agents and would respond with a wide spread push to increase labor and hours.  This would merely contribute to the issue of the first five year plan.  No industrial effort will be successful if the state does not have the food to feed its workers or the knowledge of the machinery leading the revolution.  The plans that would follow would not be any more sufficiently executed as the agricultural aspect is a constant lingering theme for Stalin’s policies.

Soviet and Italian Planned Industry 1930s

While the United States and Western Europe raised eyebrows towards Stalin’s fantastical collectivization plans, Russia committed to several massive industrial projects in order to mobilize the Soviet Union’s rising communist dream. Many of these industrial projects were characterized by prometheanism, or, newfound strategies to subjugate and conquer lands for means of industry. The project of Magnitogorsk, a massive city constructed in the 1930s under Stalin’s five year plan, prevails as a paragon example of Soviet economic mobilization.

Magnitogorsk is located at the far south-east of the Ural Mountains, close to the Ural River. Unusually large iron deposits located there provided Stalin with enough incentive to build an entire city in proximity to harvest the iron for industry. To ensure efficiency, Stalin placed experienced industrial officials at the forefront of the project, while much of the hands on labor force became peasants, kulaks, or other Soviet agitators whose actions merited deportation out past the Urals to Magnitogorsk.

The first to catch on to the rise in Soviet industry, according to Wolfgang Schivelbusch in his Three New Deals, was Mussolini, who subsequently created plans to develop a series of small cities in order to rebuild a powerful Italy. Similarly to Stalin, but on a less grand scale, Mussolini created his city plans year-by-year called the “nuove citta.” Like Magnitogorsk (pre-perestroika), these impromptu, large industrial projects with little modification turned into “anti-cities.” Sabaudia, the city Schivelbusch uses as an example, is reminiscent of a deserted prison marked by its emptiness and harsh geographic structuring.

Sabaudia, Schivelbusch's example of an "anti-city." (p.147)

Sabaudia, Schivelbusch’s example of an “anti-city.” (p.147)

It seems as though both Stalin and Mussolini planned too far ahead for the immediate future. How beneficial were large construction projects for stimulating long term economic mobility for the Soviet Union and Fascist Italy in the 1930, despite the fact that many of these operations fell flat? Was the actual creation itself the goal?