Dizzy with Success

In “Dizzy with Success” (1930) Stalin discusses the need to temper growing enthusiasm in the socialist state and the socialist system. It is interesting to note that this was necessary. In America, students are still raised on ideas born of the Cold War: communism is evil; the people are never happy under communism. This piece contradicts these foundational American ideas.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Soviet citizens were ecstatic in the changes to their economy. The economy was growing at an unbelievable rate and the people were glad to see their living conditions quickly improving. This happiness went hand-in-hand with an eagerness to continue. Many people wanted to help push the economy even further. It was this idea that Stalin cautions against in this piece. He did not want the people to become so “dizzy with success” that they forgot themselves, their country’s position in the world, or the power of its enemies. He warns that many, once they taste the first fruits of success, want to capture the feeling. Many would do anything to protect their new advances, but they also become careless–they believe that since they have already succeeded, the success will continue. With this perspective, they continue to push themselves, but not to the same level and not with the same need to strive beyond the success of others.
This piece was written in 1930 when collectivization was in its first few years. Stalin needed to prove that his plans for the economy were more profitable than those first begun under Lenin. Platanov’s The Foundation Pit highlighted the difficulties associated with collectivization and its counterpart, dekulakization. On what level was “dizzy with success” a piece of propaganda? Were the statistics from the program truly reflective of the changes in the economy? Stalin encouraged Stakanovites to work past their quotas to achieve more for the state. Why did this same principle not apply to collective farming?

Mussolini, “What is Fascism”

Benito Mussolini’s “What is Fascism” (1932) outlines that basic principles and guiding ideals of Fascism as he perceived and created this political ideology. He maintains throughout this piece that Fascism and Marxism (specifically Marxian Socialism) are “complete opposite[s].” In many ways this is true. These two ideologies have opposing beliefs and ideals, but each is underlined by many of the same opinions as well.

The Foundation Pit by Andrei Platonov is a novel based in the USSR during the early 1920s. This book centers on a construction project that was meant to assist in the country’s industrial aspirations. Throughout much of the novel, the protagonist and other characters are consumed by the idea of finding the true meaning of communism. They want to become the best citizens, the best workers and the best communists. Throughout the novel, the characters work tirelessly for the benefit of the state so that they may prove their loyalty and commitment to the communist cause.

While the goals of communism and Fascism are different: one strives for the party and the ideology; the other strives for the state and the country; each places a duty on the people to work tirelessly towards this goal. In working for the party and communist ideology, Soviet citizens bettered the state. By sacrificing for the state, Italians improved the power of Fascist ideology. The rhetoric in each movement and culture reads very similarly: “[the Fascist] rather conceives of life as duty and struggle and conquest, but above all for others—those who are at hand and those who are far distant, contemporaries, and those who will come after…” This sentiment is very similar to the way in which propaganda promoted working for communism in the USSR, especially in the use of the Stakanovite figure.

There are similarities in how Fascism and communism were presented and understood during this period. How does democratic, Nazi and other political rhetoric follow similar patterns?