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.  … Read the rest here

Problems with Collectivization

The goal of collectivization in the Soviet Union was to consolidate individual land and labors into collective farms. Stalin stated collectivization was politically necessary, Stalin also stated that collectivization needed to be gradual and voluntary, two things it was not. The landless peasants were meant to benefit the most form collectivization, since they were to be given an equal share of the profits. The problem was most peasants were not landless and they did not want to have to give up their lands and sell their harvest at the minimal price, and most peasants were forced into collectivization against their will.… Read the rest here

Collectivization: No.

In Stalin’s drive for collectivization, we see the difference between “intent” and “reality”. Stalin put too much faith in workers, the proletariat, to successfully carry out collectivization. Although Stalin at first labeled collectivization as a political necessity that must be brought about gradually, the actual process was anything but gradual. What was meant to be a revolution built from the ground up incurred little more than destruction, and was wholly brought about from the top to the bottom, which is the exact opposite of Marxist ideology.… Read the rest here

Italian Fascism: The Non-Authoritative Dictatorship

In Bosworth’s article “Everyday Mussolinism: Friends, Family, Locality and Violence in Fascist Italy”,1 the pervasive and totalitarian nature of the Italian Fascist regime is brought into question. Bosworth argues that even the Duce himself was aware of how ineffective his government was at implementing policy into change of everyday behavior. An anti-Fascist under current developed and was reoccurring without being institutionally controlled.2 By examining multiple individual cases and examples, Bosworth successfully shows the multitude of ways the Italian public found opportunities to undermine Mussolini’s supposedly complete system of statist control.… Read the rest here

Denunciation and the Great Purges

“…he ‘hunted for enemies everywhere with a magnifying glass’.1.

In Shelia Fitzpatrick’s “A Time of Troubles” she analyzed the impact the Great Purges had on everyday life and what mechanisms allowed the wide-spread terror to occur between 1937 and 1938.2. The Great Purges differed from earlier purges the Soviet Union experienced in that the term “enemy” was no longer associated with solely class. The classification of “enemy” became much broader and more difficult to identify.… Read the rest here

Know Your Enemy

Fitzpatrick’s chapter regarding the Great Purges of the Soviet Union reads like a dystopian novel. Even the epigraph at the beginning stirs thoughts of “Big Brother”; it reads “You know they are putting people in prison for nothing now”.  Fitzpatrick attributes this quote to an anonymous “local official”, circa 1938, the temporal heart of the Great Purge.1  This epigraph highlights a concept touched on throughout the rest of this chapter: no one in the Soviet Union, whether they be members of the communist party or ordinary citizens, escaped the wrath of the purge.… Read the rest here

A Time of Troubles

Surveillance and Terror.  These two terms were used in Sheila Fitzpatricks chapter, A Time of Troubles, as a way of discussing the Great Purges of 1937 and 1938.   In this Chapter, Fitzpatrick explored the many ways the Great Terror took hold of the Soviet State and how it spread throughout the state.

The one part of Sheila Fitzpatrick chapter that really stood out to me was her section on how the Great Terror Spread.  Fitzpatrick noted that there were several ways that the Great Purge spread.  … Read the rest here

Terror and Surveillance

“Surveillance means that the population is watched; terror means that its members are subject on an unpredictable but large-scale basis to arrest, execution, and other forms of state violence.”1 This is the theme of Chapter 8 of Sheila Fitzpatrick’s Everyday Stalinism, in which the modes of Soviet public repression and purging are explored in detail.

The development of the Communist “Great Purges” in the 1930s was a self-propelling loop of suspicion, witch-hunts, and above all else, terror.… Read the rest here

Creating a Modern Public

In the fifth chapter of Three New Deals titled “Public Works,” Wolfgang Schivelbusch compares the motivations for and the goals of the large public projects carried out by Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and the United States during the 1930s. Schivelbusch argues that each country’s project responded developments within the Soviet Union, their shared competitor1Although Italy’s drainage of the Pontine Marshes, German’s construction of the autobahn, and the United States’ construction of dams and power plants through the Tennessee Valley Authority Act uniquely reflected each country’s unique social context and needs, all of the projects reflected the modern theme of promoting individualism through collectivism. Read the rest here

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.… Read the rest here