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Stalin's Domestic Policies and Their Impact

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Patrick Dennis

on 29 September 2014

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Transcript of Stalin's Domestic Policies and Their Impact

Stalin's Domestic Policies and Their Impact
Stalin's Changing Economic Policies
Stalin initially rejected Trotsky's call for industrialization.
Preferred holding to the NEP and

Late 1925:
Stalin contemplated shift from NEP to socialist economy.

Post 1928:
Stalin came to focus on industry and agriculture.
Stalin initiated a series of 'five-year plans' to advance Soviet industrial capabilities.

First Five-Year Plan (1928-1932)
-> Second Five-Year Plan (1933-1937)
-> Third Five-Year Plan (1938-1942)
Agricultural production gradually increased under the NEP.
Danger of speculators (
) resulted in state collections of only 50% of expected amounts.
-> Increased taxes to force them to sell their grain to the state.

State purchased insufficient amounts of grain, prompting Stalin to seize more grain.
In response to the crisis, Stalin called for
forced collectivization
He also sought to 'liquidate' the kulaks.
How successful were Stalin's economic policies?
Many argue that Stalin did not have a master-plan and undermined his policies.
-> He responded to unforeseen developments that resulted from the NEP.
-> He constantly interfered with the economy (increasing production targets, etc.)

Others argue that Stalin's actions were short-term solutions that gave rise to more and more serious problems.
-> He developed increasingly radical approaches to the rising problems.

Others still argue that Stalin had a distinct plan that he wished to implement.
Post-War Russia (1946-1953)
First Five-Year Plan (1928-1932)
Concentrated on heavy industry
-> coal, iron, steel, oil, and machine production.
Overall production goal: 300%
-> light industry goal: 200%
-> electricity production goal: 600%
Workers were enthusiastic about Stalin's vision.
Some proclaimed the targets would be exceeded.
The first Five-Year Plan made significant achievements but did not reach its targets.
Stalin, however, announces that the targets have been reached.
What prompted Stalin to change his plans?
1927-28 Grain Crisis:
Compelled Stalin to abandon the NEP
Favored rapid industrialization instead
'optimum variant'
'basic variant'

The Growing International Situation:
1931: Japan's expansionistic tendencies (Manchuria)
USSR's relative economic backwardness put them at a grave disadvantage.
Second Five-Year Plan (1933-1937)
Rapid industrial growth of first five-year plan exposed significant problems with Soviet infrastructure.
-> Railway system could not cope with increased production.
-> Housing shortages because of expanding urban populations.
-> Forced collectivization led to food shortages, rationing, and famine.

Called for increased production and improved living conditions.
Sought to build on the achievements of the first plan.
Ultimately, machine-production and iron and steel output grew rapidly.

Stakhanovite Movement:
Stakhanov was a miner who mined 102 tonnes in a single shift (7 tonnes was average).
Prompted increased production targets and served as motivation to work harder.
-> Other incentives were also used to increase productivity.
Third Five-Year Plan (1938-1942)
By 1937, the purges had impacted productivity in the industrial sector.
Originally sought to increase production in light industry and in consumer goods.
Looming threat of war meant defense industry took precedence.
had stated that the third plan would achieve a socialist economy, World War II disrupted these plans.
The German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 brought the third five-year plan to an end.
Collectivization of Agriculture
Any peasant who did not make the grain quota were arrested or deported and their land was confiscated.
Ultimately, about 30% of the overall crop was taken by the state.
Mass Collectivization (1930)
Stalin increased his efforts against the kulaks -> seizing their land.
In response, some burned their crops and destroyed livestock to keep them from the government.
Between January and March 1930: about 58% of peasant households had been collectivized.
After March, the policy returned to voluntary collectivization.
Collectivization (1930-1937)
After 1930 harvest, Stalin resumed his collectivization efforts.
-> 1931: 50% of households lived on collective farms.
-> 1934: 70% of households lived on collective farms.
-> 1935: 75% of households lived on collective farms.
-> 1937: 90% of households lived on collective farms.
Stalin persisted with collectivization in spite of difficulties:
-> October 1931: Drought in many agricultural areas.
-> 1932-1933: Famine throughout the USSR (Ukraine, the Caucasus)
-> 1934: Worst had passed, but food shortages persisted.

The Impact on Workers
The increased pace of industrialization significantly lowered living standards because of:
Food shortages, rising prices, housing shortages
Even recovery did not restore the standard living to pre-1928 levels.

Industrialization considerably helped to increase numbers in the workforce, helping unemployment.
As many of them were women, joint incomes increased.
Employment opportunities expanded for younger women.
Increases in access to education also helped to increase standard of living.
Social Effects:
The effect of collectivization extends beyond the state's confiscation of land and the collection of food.
Many millions died either directly or indirectly as a result of collectivization.

Historians vary on their estimates for the number of famine deaths.
Wheatcroft: 6 million (3.5 million famine deaths alone)
Rosefielde: 20 million

Economic Effects:
Orthodox standard model
suggests that collectivization shifted resources to urban areas, allowing industrialization to increase.
Provided food, labor, and funds for the first five-year plan (Ellman)
view collectivization as an economic disaster and contributed little to industrialization.
The Position of Women in Stalin's Russia
Stalin's Policies towards Religion and Ethnic Minorities
Impact of Stalinism on Education, Young People, and the Arts
Fourth-Five Year Plan (1946-1950)
Emphasized re-building heavy industry and reviving agriculture.
Addressed the growing issue of homelessness

After the first year, industrial production took off
By 1950, Stalin claimed the industrial goals had already been met.

Adverse agricultural conditions severely hampered recovery
Poor harvests
Fewer farm animals (the level of meat production suffered)
Collectivization efforts suffered - by 1950, almost half of the land was privately owned.

Fifth Five-Year Plan (1951-1955)
Much of the goal related to the growing Cold War with the West (defense spending)
Rationing ended in 1947; real wages began to rise (by 1952, they exceeded pre-war levels.
Pre-Stalin Measures
Women in common-law marriages given equal rights to those in registered marriages.
Education provided equally to men and women.
Steps were taken to allow mothers to work outside of the home.

Policies were guided by the idea of promoted the growth of families (because of population devastation of World War II)
Instituted policies to promote "traditional" family values.
1936: Divorce became more difficult and access to abortion became more difficult.
Gave tax exemptions to families with large numbers of children.
1944: Only registered marriages recognized.
Free health service, accident insurance at work, paid holidays for many workers.
Women were encouraged to take up employment in all fields that men could.
Prior to Stalin, the Orthodox Church given some rights, as long as it was loyal to the Soviet regime and did not interfere in politics.

1928: closed and confiscated places of religious worship.
1929: worship restricted to "registered congregations"
1930: religious leaders no longer allowed to conduct religious services.
1936: pro-religious propaganda declared a crime.

During the war, Stalin allowed the reopening of churches.
Stalin cracked down on religious propaganda by 1944.
Orthodox priests were kept under observations.
Protestants were persecuted more severely.

Anti-religion also pertained to the Muslims and to Buddhists and to the Armenian and Georgian Churches.
Muslim women granted equality and wearing the veil forbidden.
Stalin and Ethnic Minorities
Pre-Stalin (1920s):
Early Communist Party was tolerant of different minorities, granting Soviet Jews their own party sections.

Stalin's desire for more centralized control pushed the need for assimilation.
Assimilation would aid in creating a united "Soviet identity"
Russian became the official language
Divided Central Asia into five separate republics to remove the possibility of the states joining.

Some argue that Stalin's actions were responses to the growing threats of Nazi Germany and Japan
He wanted to create a united national identity to inspire a collected commitment to socialism and the Soviet state.
Immediately following World War II, this practice declined.

The Jews
1917: All Anti-Semitic laws were abolished.
Yiddish an acceptable language, but not Hebrew (religious connotations).

Jews were integrated into industry, but anti-Jewish prejudices remained.
Prejudices surfaced in rural areas - Jews seen as "subversives" or "saboteurs"
This prejudice connects to the general fear of counter-revolutionaries or reactionary nationalists.
During World War II, the influx of Jews resulted in increase in Zionism
Result: campaigns against Zionists -> rabbis were arrested.
After the war (and the creation of Israel in 1948), some persecution of Jews in the intelligentsia.
Response: Emigration to Israel was banned.
Doctors' Plot: Jewish academics were sacked and some arrested. Ultimately, 26 were executed.
While discrimination against Zionists was somewhat common, this is not the same as anti-Semitism.
Anti-Semitism existed, but it was never a defined governmental policy.
Stalin treated education as a priority: educated workforce vital for modern socialist society.
Education was free, comprehensive, and coeducational.
Initially, no restriction on work in science and the arts.

Expanded provision of secondary and higher education.
By 1939, literacy was almost gone (94% in towns could read; 86% in rural communities could read.)
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