The Five Year Plan

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  • The Five Year Plan
    • The First Five Year Plan - 1928 - 1932 declared reached nine months early. The Second Five Year Plan - 1933 - 1937. The Third Five Year Plan - 1938 - 1941 - aborted by the German invasion of Russia in 1941.
    • The NEP had been built on centralised state planning - the chief industries were state owned and controlled. Lenin famously said 'Socialism was state power plus electrification'
    • GOSPLAN produced figures and targets for industrial production from 1924 onwards. it was in 1928 that the first Five Year Plan was announced.
    • An army of state planners, about 500,000 in Moscow, tried to plan increases down to the last detail. No attention was paid to local conditions.
    • Emphasis was to be on heavy industry and infrastructure, with consumer goods and living standards a long way down the list of priorities.
    • In the First Plan very ambitious targets were set: coal production to increase by 100%, Iron by 200%, electricity by 400%. In most cases the targets were impossible to achieve.
    • Such was the response that the new improved targets were set in 1929, and these again revised upwards in 1930. It became crucial to meet your planned target. Never mind the quality, meet the target.
    • Workers would move from job to job to get higher wages, managers would do anything to ensure they met the target, and of course public announcements showed that targets had only been met, but had been exceeded.
    • The Second and Third Five Year Plans had more realistic targets, which were usually met.
    • But statistics from this time are notoriously unreliable.
    • What the Five Year Plans do show is that political fervour took over from rational thought. It was almost a Civil War-type crusade to build socialism overnight.
    • There was great enthusiasm amongst many Party memebers who made huge sacrifices to build new towns and factories. There were great achievements.
    • But there was a muddle, confusion and waste. It was sometimes hard to separate hard to seperate the rhetoric from the reality when we consider the issue.


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