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Communism in the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1964
in Thaw- and Post-Thaw Era Soviet Historiography

Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
International Program
Nam, Sangjoon
Term Paper, AP World History Class, June 2010; revised September, December 2010

Table of Contents

I. Introduction
II. Soviet Historiography
II.1 Definition
II.2 Characteristics of Soviet Historiography : Lenin to Stalin
II.3 Characteristics of Soviet Historiography : Khrushchev
III. The October Revolution
III.1 Soviet Accounts
III.2 Secondary Sources
III.3 Comparative Analysis
IV. Soviet War Communism
IV.1 Soviet Accounts
IV.2 Secondary Sources
IV.3 Comparative Analysis
V. Lenin's Pursuit of Equality
V.1 Soviet Accounts
V.2 Secondary Sources
V.3 Comparative Analysis
VI. The New Economic Policy (NEP)
VI.1 Soviet Accounts
VI.2 Secondary Sources
VI.3 Comparative Analysis
VII. The Five-Year Plans
VII.1 Soviet Accounts
VII.2 Secondary Sources
VII.3 Comparative Analysis
VIII. Stakhanovism
VIII.1 Soviet Accounts
VIII.2 Secondary Sources
VIII.3 Comparative Analysis
IX. The Great Purge
IX.1 Soviet Accounts
IX.2 Secondary Sources
IX.3 Comparative Analysis
X. Evaluations on Stalin¡¯s Leadership
X.1 Soviet Accounts
X.2 Secondary Sources
X.3 Comparative Analysis
XI. Seven-Year Plan
XI.1 Soviet Accounts
XI.2 Secondary Sources
XI.3 Comparative Analysis
XII. Conclusion

I. Introduction
            The end of World War II was all but the beginning of the invisible war. Called the Cold War, the tension between the Democratic West and the Communist East divided the European power structure into two. During the Cold War, each side launched innumerable propaganda against each other's social, cultural, and political beliefs. Unfortunately, history was not an exception; history, which is an accumulation of accounts written by historians, was far more subjective during the Cold War. From that time, history taught in countries within democratic allegiance (i.e. France, West Germany, the United States, Japan, and South Korea) about the Soviet Union has been, by and large, distinctively critical.
            However, we should not forget to suspect that the so-called "western accounts" on Soviet history could be biased. Different historians hardly record certain events or periods of history in a uniquely similar manner even when political conflict like the Cold War is out of the scene. Although it is impossible to trace what happened in certain period of the Soviet Union in a perfectly precise manner, it is possible to maximize the accuracy of Soviet history by comparing and contrasting historical accounts written in both the Soviet Union (Soviet Accounts) and democratic countries (Secondary Sources). Compared with the historical accounts on the Soviet history written by historians in democratic countries, the Soviet sources is limited in number and access. Therefore, this paper used Soviet history books written during and after the Khrushchev Thaw to enhance analytical consistency.
            Using primary and secondary resources, this paper will explore how several issues relevant with communism in the Soviet Union were written by Soviet and Western scholars. The five primary sources used in this paper are written roughly around the Thaw and they elaborate on the specific time periods of Soviet history from the Soviet perspective. Among them, he author of "The Soviet Achievement," J. P. Nettl, is not strictly Soviet origin; however, since he used his first-hand experience in the country to highlight the Soviet achievements, this book is also used as a legitimate primary source.

II. Soviet Historiography

II.1 Definition
            The definition of Soviet Historiography should be clarified in order to enhance coherence and unity of this paper. Soviet historiography, by definition, is different from the history of the Soviet Union in that the former describes Soviet history written by Soviet historians while the latter describes Soviet history written by any historians in the world. (1) Its exact meaning is revealed in Wikipedia: Soviet Historiography.
            "Soviet historiography is the way in which history was written by historians within the Soviet Union. Soviet historiography is also the practice of current historians studying how historians wrote history in the Soviet Union. Soviet historiography is marked by alternating periods of freedom allowed and restriction imposed by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), due to the struggle of the CPSU to guard against bourgeois historiography." (2)
            Currently, there are two major branches of theories that Western historians use to study Soviet Historiography. Totalitarian approach, which assumes that the Soviet Union is a totalitarian society, tries to view the history of Soviet Union as the rise and decline of totalitarianism within the Soviet territory. (2a) The alternative approach, which is used by the so-called social-history school of Soviet historiography, attempts to discover the "important initiative from historians at odds with the dominant powers in the field." (3)

II.2 Characteristics of Soviet Historiography : Lenin to Stalin
            Soviet Historiography between the October Revolution and Stalin's death is characterized by pressure and control. The Soviet officials always censored historical accounts so that Soviet people could read and learn only what they desired them to read and learn. The quotation below illustrates the characteristics of Soviet historiography between years of Lenin and those of Stalin.
            "Party history was already being re-written to suit the current political situation from 1930 onwards; after 1932 Stalin's pronouncements on the past as an integral part of the present became the stuff of historiography. Henceforward footnotes and references were not designed to do anything but give a scientific appearance to these proceedings - the writings of Lenin and Stalin became the main sources of all Party history. World history as a whole was put through the same machine. The class struggle became the main component of history since the Neolithic Age." (4)
            From the beginning, the Bolsheviks were aware of the power that historical writing possessed in influencing national pride and morale. They coined history with politics, and were especially careful about political topics in the history of the Soviet Union. It is how and why the Soviet leaders imposed strict censorship upon historical writings.
            "In general, the more closely connected with contemporary political problems, the more likely that a historiographical topic would be distorted by ideological concerns voiced from on high. ... Hence, professional history as the legitimate interpreter of the nation's past experience was marginalized in the Soviet period." (5)
            What happened to the historians who refused to follow the censure ? It meant persecution and death. It was not only historians but also literary writers, journalists, and party members who were susceptible to the punishment if they refused to follow the directions from the government. The quotation below shows how severe and oppressive the situations were.
            "Writers who criticized or merely abstained from praising Bolshevik achievements; workers who grumbled openly; Party members who dissented or merely confused yesterday's truth with today's heresy; finally leaders who disagreed (or had disagreed) with Stalin openly or potentially - all were cast into the same fatal mould of class enemies and bourgeois traitors. Bolsheviks had always conducted their polemics in hard language, following a tradition dating back to beyond Marx to 1793. But when Stalin, in one of his homely phrases, referred to 'dogs returning to their own dug' it was not only earthy epithet but a reduction to sub-humanity - and could well be a mandate for liquidation." (6)

II.3 Characteristics of Soviet Historiography : Khrushchev
            Nikita Khrushchev is famous for his Thaw, which partially allowed free criticisms and reduced censorship on foreign works. Although the Thaw improved the oppressed atmosphere of Soviet historiography during his predecessors' era, Khrushchev was also wary of historians and their works. For example, the comment below was made by Khrushchev himself.
            "Historians are dangerous and capable of turning everything upside down. They have to be watched." (7)
            Unfortunately, most of the Western accounts that compliments Khrushchev's Thaw seldom state that censorship on historical works was relieved. In short, from Lenin to Khrushchev, Soviet historiography had been represented by severe censorship that controlled the political direction of historical writings.

III October Revolution

III.1 Soviet Accounts
            Taking the volatile situation of Russia in 1917 into account, the October Revolution is not an event that can never be justified. Rather, some historians believe that it was the October Revolution that finally settled domestic peace within the Russian territory. Bolshevik leaders like Lenin and Trotsky understood Marx's ideas, and they made full efforts to solve the deadlocked domestic affairs. (8) One of the history books that analyzed both the pros and cons of the Soviet history even commemorates the October Revolution.
            "He [Lenin] and Trotsky alone realized at this stage how true was Marx's dictum that the 'real history of real men' depends not only on large social forces but on the will and power of small groups of individuals. Whatever else Lenin may have contributed, his decision to act transformed a group of active intellectuals into a ruling party. But if the other parties might have seized power, it is clearly unlikely that they would have held it. None appeared capable of developing the severe measures required to steer the new stage through its stormy infancy; none would have rejected so completely the various possibilities of compromise with the old regime. The right if brief answer probably is that the determination of Lenin and Trotsky to seize power was something of an historical accident. The Bolshevik survival has deeper social significance." (9)
            According to Nettl, the Bolsheviks introduced a fresh revolutionary wave that rejected the conservative value systems of capitalism. He also explains that Lenin's way of solving social problems were simply one of many approaches that can be taken by any political leaders. (10) While "turning over the bourgeoisie" was evaluated by historians and economists as extremely radical and anit-democratic, Nettl accuses this argument of ignoring the diversity in resolving social problems.
            "Moreover, he [Lenin] claimed to combine within himself the two complementary but conflicting moieties of intellectual analysis and practical action. He discarded, indeed turned upside-down, the subtle distinctions of dress and manner which are signs of a high status category in all societies - until the informality of behavior and shapelessness of dress themselves turned into a new status ritual of their own. 'Comrade epitomized both the revolt against the old and the eventual formalism of the new. Above all the Bolshevik had put a substantial area of human self-determination decisively in pawn - at least until full communism eventually brought about the ultimate liberation by resolving all contradiction between self and collectivity, self and environment." (11)
            A. Podkolzin's statements on A Short Economic History of the USSR about the October Revoultion parallels with those of Nettl. The quotation below suggests that social circumstances in 1917 were appropriate for the Bolsheviks to arise a communist revolution.
            "Imperialist Russia's socio-economic pattern was distinguished by the fact that the newest, highly-advanced forms of monopoly capitalism and semi-feudal ownership of land and backward peasant economy existed side by side and, what is more, were closely interlinked. By October 1917 the revolutionary situation in the country had come to a head, thus making it possible to depose the bourgeois-landowner Provisional Government and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat with relative ease and minimum loss of life." (12)
            After the October Revolution went successful, Lenin and the Bolshevik followers assembled an All-Russian Congress on November. Quoting the statements made in the Congress, Podkolzin claims that the October Revolution is nor a coup de tat against an existing government but a reaction to the needs of the Russian population.
            "'Backed by the will of the vast majority of the workers, soldiers and peasants,' the Congress proclamation read, 'and by the victorious uprising of the workers and garrison which has taken place in Petrograd, the Congress takes power into its own hands.'" (13)
            Soviet historians, without doubt, were under tremendous influence by the communist government. Their works were checked, controlled, and censored so that all publications complimented communism. October Revolution was no exception; it was, by all measure, commemorated and justified by the Soviet historians. In summary, Podkolzin commemorates the October Revolution and its significance in the history of communism and mankind.
            "The October Socialist Revolution ushered in a new era in human history, the era of liquidation of all forms of exploitation of man by man, the ear of the triumph of communism throughout the world. It also accumulated vast experience in revolutionary struggle and showed that its basic features would inevitably be repeated by socialist revolutions in all other countries. Russia's experience in accomplishing socialist revolution demonstrated that it was only the joint efforts of the proletariat and the peasants under the leadership of the working class that could bring victory." (14)
            Finally, Lenin sent the following letter in the next morning of the Revolution. This letter contains Bolsheviks' ideals in seizing the leadership and justification behind the revolution. As it is shown in the next subchapter, his words and explanations by the Western accounts are strikingly contradictory.

            "Comrades !

            I am writing these lines on the evening of the 6th. The situation is extremely critical. It is as clear as can be that delaying the uprising now really means death.
            With all my power I wish to persuade the comrades that now everything hangs on a hair, that on the order of the day are questions that are not solved by conferences, by congresses (even by Congresses of Soviets), but only by the people, by the masses, by the struggle of armed masses.
            The bourgeois onslaught of the Kornilovists, the removal of Verkhovsky, show that we must not wait. We must at any price, this evening, to-night, arrest the Ministers, having disarmed (defeated if they offer resistance) the military cadets, etc.
            We must not wait ! We may lose everything !
            The immediate gain from the seizure of power at present is: defense of the people (not the congress, but the people, in the first place, the army and the peasants) against the Kornilovist government which has driven out Verkhovsky and has hatched a second Kornilov plot.
            Who should seize power ?
            At present this is not important. Let the Military Revolutionary Committee seize it, or 'some other institution' which declares that it will relinquish the power only to the real representatives of the interests of the people, the interests of the Army (immediate offer of peace), the interests of the peasants (take the land immediately, abolish private property), the interests of the hungry.
            It is necessary that all the boroughs, all regiments, all forces should be mobilised and should immediately send delegations to the Military Revolutionary Committee, to the Central Committee of the Bolsheviks, insistently demanding that under no circumstances is power to be left in the hands of Kerensky and Co. Until the 7th, by no means ! -- but that the matter must absolutely be decided this evening or to-night.
            History will not forgive delay by revolutionists who could be victorious to-day (and will surely be victorious to-day), while they risk losing much to-morrow, they risk losing all.
            If we seize power to-day, we seize it not against the Soviets but for them.
            Seizure of power is the point of the uprising; its political task will be clarified after the seizure.
            It would be a disaster or formalism to wait for the uncertain voting of November 7. The people have a right and a duty to decide such questions not by voting but by force; the people have a right and duty in critical moments of a revolution to give directions to their representatives, even their best representatives, and not to wait for them.
            This has been proven by the history of all revolutions, and the crime of revolutionists would be limitless if they let go the proper moment, knowing that upon them depends the saving of the revolution, the offer of peace, the saving of Petrograd, the saving from starvation, the transfer of the land to the peasants.
            The government is tottering. We must deal it the death blow at any cost.
            To delay action is the same as death."

III.2 Secondary Sources
            The Soviet accounts provide reasons and justifications behind the October Revolution. They also explain that without the Bolsheviks, Russia would have been deteriorated. October Revolution, therefore, was a major turning point in Russian history that had made Russia a fairer society with national wealth and equality. However, this is contrary to Western accounts, which often condemn the October Revolution as a trick, deception, and a corrupt military coup de tat. The quotation below is from a British lecture note about Russia in 1917.
            "Essential to a successful Bolshevik takeover was deception. And it was Leon Trotsky who was brilliant in formulating its tactics. The country was in no mood for a single party power. An uprising carried out under the slogan of the Soviet, Trotsky realized, was "something quite different." So, "whilst moving forward all along the line," he later explained, "we maintained an appearance of defensiveness." He could not do this with a properly convened Soviet Congress. There was not the slightest chance of a Bolshevik victory in a national Soviet election so the existing Congress was illegally packed with Bolsheviks." (16)
            This Western source also pinpoints Lenin's deficiency as a leader. Although the Soviet historians never attempted to, and were presumably forbidden to suggest Lenin's weakness in character, this secondary source implies that the October Revolution could have not been succeeded without luck. (17) The following introduces Lenin's foible, as well as how his followers frankly thought about Lenin's character.
            "Lenin was a very nervous man. Sukhanov thought that Lenin's ideas -- the smashing of the credit system, the seizure of banks, parity of wages, and workers' control -- were "so disproportionately few in comparison with the immensity of the tasks, and so unknown to anyone outside the Bolshevik Party, that you might say they were completely irrelevant." Maxim Gorky described the plotters of the coup as "crazed fanatics."" (18)
            Western sources tend to trivialize the October Revolution. Although some sources acknowledges its role in changing the Russian atmosphere, other sources, such as the one below, end up condemning it as a military revolt against the preexisting regime.
            "This so-called October Revolution was an "armed insurrection" carried out by the Bolshevik Party using the apparatus of the Petrograd Soviet. Lenin insisted that the transfer of power from the Provisional Government to the Bolsheviks take this militarized form rather than the political form of a vote by the forthcoming All-Russian Congress of Soviets, an approach favored by Zinoviev and Kamenev. Lenin did this because he believed, as did Marx, that the class struggle was class warfare and so necessarily involved physical violence. No other method could demonstrate where the real power lay. In the same manner, Lenin understood the literal meaning of Marx's call to "expropriate the expropriators" by urging the masses to "steal the stolen." This was no violation of Marx's view of the logic of history -- armed coercion was always integral to that logic. And so, the October coup set the precedent for the continuing use of coercion by the Party through all the stages required to construct socialism." (19)

III.3 Comparative Analysis
            In evaluating the October Revolution, there is a great discrepancy between Western historians and Soviet historians. Soviet historians see the Revolution as social mobility, a driving force that altered the fate of Russian history. For them, the fate is a good one; for the Westerners, however, the fate is a bad one. The October Revolution is a military coup d'etat instigated by extremists rather than a social revolution supported by millions of crowd. Their view also diverges in the consequence of the Revolution, with Soviets complimenting Lenin's policy and the Westerners criticizing its inefficiency.
            Overall, the contention arises from whether to see the Bolshevik uprising as an act of revolution or an act of civil war. The comment below made by Trotsky pinpoints this idea, describing the October Revolution as one of the finest revolution in Soviet history.
            "People do not make revolutions eagerly any more than they do war. There is this difference, however, that in war compulsion plays the decisive role, in revolution there is no compulsion except that of circumstances. A revolution takes place only when there is no other way out. And the insurrection, which rises above a revolution like a peak in the mountain chain of its events, can be no more evoked at will than the revolution as a whole. The masses advance and retreat several times before they make up their minds to the final assault." (20)

IV. Soviet War Communism

IV.1 Soviet Accounts
            Soon after the Bolsheviks established a communist regime in Russia, they introduced war communism as an exigency measure to react to the belligerent situation. Although the Soviet Union withdrew from the battle field with a peace treaty with Germany, the country could hardly avoid various kinds of effects from the World War I. The first and foremost effect that the Bolsheviks had to control was that of economic, which might have been so potential as to tear down the whole communist regime. Represented by the control over the workers and their employment, war communism was soon adapted to minimize any detrimental effects that might stem from the war.
            An appeal issued by a factory committee describes that the handover of freedom to work retained from the people to the state was smooth.
            "Accustoming themselves to administer individual enterprises, the workers are preparing for the time when private ownership of factories will be abolished and the means of production, together with the building erected by the workers, will pass into the hands of the working class." (21)
            A huge proportion of explanations on war communism by Podkolzin was dedicated not to the effects and consequences of the system but to the factors and circumstances that made the government to introduce war communism. Some of his efforts to justify war communism is quoted below.
            "There were various reasons which made wartime nationalization unavoidable. Coal mines, metallurgical plants and other heavy enterprises were taken over because of their importance for the state. A number of enterprises were nationalized because their owners refused to obey the orders of workers¡¯ control bodies. The Putilov Works in Petrograd passed into the possession of the republic because of ... the nationalization of the country's leading financial establishments - state and joint-stock commercial banks - played an exceptionally important role in the reorganization of the economy. In this way the whole banking system was made dependent on the central government. Private joint-stock banks were nationalised ... to resolve the chaos in wartime." (22)
            Yet, Soviet sources could not ignore the fact that the production during and after the wartime decreased. Podkolzin appended a table of statistics that showed the decrease of output from 1913 to 1920. However, he did not forget to mention that the numerical decline may purely attributed to the war itself and without measures by the government, the decline could have been more severe.
            "The nationalisation of industry continued throughout the years of the civil war and foreign intervention. ... At the time nationalisation of industry made it possible to accomplish the following principal tasks :
            1) to abolish the material basis of the internal counterrevolutionary bourgeoisie;
            2) to concentrate in the hands of the socialist state the material resources essential for successfully waging the civil war against the counter-revolutionary forces driving from all sides on the young workers¡¯ and peasants' republic.
            ... The difficult situation in all branches of industry was due to the economic dislocation engendered by the war. The general condition of industry was as follows."

Table 1: Gross output and the number of workers in 1913 and from 1917-1920 (23)
1913 1917 1918 1919 1920
Gross output (in million pre-war rubles) 5,621 3,849 1,845 955 818
Number of Workers (in thousands) 2,203 2,596 2,011 1,334 1,223
Gross output per worker per year (in pre-war rubles) 2,251 1,482 917 715 669

            After showing these figures and admitting losses made during the period of war communism, Podkolzin begins a long argument about what Lenin did to overcome this economic difficulty. After enumerating several measures to remedy the post-war situation, Podkolzin continues his explanations with more emphasis on Lenin¡¯s feats. He claims that Lenin took appropriate measures, and these measures encouraged workers to work harder, resulting in a fewer loss that the Soviet deserved.
            "But these were not the only measures the Soviet Government introduced at the time. It was in this period that the Leninist principle of material incentive was applied on an ever increasing scale. Early in 1919 the government first introduced the piece-rate system and took measures to strengthen labour discipline and one-man management of production. During the war the Soviet people not only displayed heroism in battle but performed feats of labour. One of the most striking forms of the new, socialist attitude to work was the communist subbotniks (voluntary work after working hours)." (24)
            According to Podkolzin, the first subbotnik was organized and carried out on the night of April 12, 1919, by the communist workers of the Moscow Marshalling Yard of the Moscow-Kazan Railway. They stayed after work and, without remuneration, repaired several locomotives that were urgently needed pull military trains to the war front. Subsequently, these subbotniks were held every week. The example of the subbotniks shown in the Moscow-Kazan Railway was emulated by industrial workers throughout the country. The subbotniks spread to the villages where they were organized primarily to assist the families of Red Army men in the performance of various field jobs. (25)
            For the industrial output, Podkolzin claims that the productivity significantly increased thanks to the subbotniks. The quotation below illustrates his argument.
            "It must be said that the productivity of labour during the subbotniks was much higher than usual. At the time Lenin wrote his well-known work A Great Beginning in which he said: 'Communist subbotniks are of such enormous historical significance precisely because they demonstrate the conscious and voluntary initiative of the workers in developing the productivity of labour, in adopting a new labour discipline, in creating socialist conditions of economy and life.'" (26)
            Podkolzin also states that around 1917-1922, the Communist Party also made huge effort to promote subbotnik and hence to improve productivity.
            "At that time, Party and state organs paid particular attention to the organization and conditions of labour. This was all the more necessary because there were people, even among the leading statesmen, who opposed the enforcement of strict labour discipline, who were against one-man management of production, employment of old specialists, and so on. These people formed the so-called Democratic Centralism group and attempted to push their policy through at the economic discussions." (27)

IV.2 Secondary Sources
            Although Lenin endeavored to establish minimum standard of living among the low class population, he failed to make economic policies that supported the lives of ordinary people. During the WWI, however, the Bolshevik allowed money to be printed in immense quantity to support the soldiers. The country suffered from hopeless inflation that was still a major problem when Lenin implemented war communism to settle communist economic ideology in the Russian market. (28) However, the war communism was short of solving the heavy inflation. Soviet historians, not to mention those in democratic countries, acknowledge the problems of Lenin's war communism. Matthews provide an objective account about war communism using perspectives from both the Soviet and other experts.
            "The redistributive policies known as 'war communism' and the massive disruption of civil war quickly brought about the collapse of the already severely strained economy. The fall in production was, in fact, catastrophic. According to the economic historian Serge N. Prokopovicz, by 1920 industrial output as a whole had fallen to only 20 per cent of the 1913 level. By 1921-2 real monthly salaries had dropped to some 30 per cent of what they were before the war." (29)
            In another chapter, he provides a specific account on the devastating effect of inflation. According to his explanation, the situation in the early 1920s was comparable to that of post-war situations in Germany where people benefited more from burning the printed money to heat the house than using them in the market. (30)
            "The value of the January 1918 ruble is said to have sunk to 12 kopecks in a year. Its decline thereafter was so fast that by the time of the January 1924 Money Reform it was worth only one 270,000,000th of the 1918 unit. This decline meant that nominal wages rose at an incredible speed and state-fixed maxima quickly became inoperative." (31)
            Explanations in Wikipedia toward Soviet communism are as critical as those by Matthews. War communism repealed private ownership, imposed strict workmanship within the Soviet community, and illegalized private enterprises. In doing so, however, Bolsheviks did not have enough control to implement these policies consistently over vast terrain of Russia. Pointing out several specific measures introduced in the late 1910s, Wikipedia criticizes both inefficiency and ineffectiveness of war communism.
            "Because all of these measures were implemented in a time of civil war, they were far less coherent and coordinated in practice than they might appear on paper. Large areas of Russia were outside the Bolsheviks' control, and poor communications meant that even those regions loyal to the Bolshevik government often had to act on their own, lacking any orders or central coordination from Moscow. It has long been debated whether "war communism" represented an actual economic policy in the proper sense of the word or merely a set of desperate measures intended to win the civil war at any cost." (32)
            The article also states that war communism encouraged peasants to migrate to the cities to become workers. Although the peasants who moved to Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and Leningrad had looked forward to better pay and more comfort, most of them could not see any of these. Quality of life during war communism was generally despicable, with decreasing food rationing, decreasing population, and decreasing morale. The quotation below depicts miserable lifestyle during years of war communism.
            "War communism catastrophically aggravated the hardships experienced by the population as a result of the war. Peasants refused to co-operate in producing food, as the government took away far too much of it. Workers began migrating from the cities to the countryside, where the chances to feed oneself were higher, thus further decreasing the possibility of in natura exchange of industrial goods for food and worsening the plight of the remaining urban population. Between 1918 and 1920, Petrograd lost 75 % of its population, whilst Moscow lost 50 %. A black market emerged in Russia, despite the threat of the martial law against profiteering. The ruble collapsed and was replaced by a system of bartering and, by 1921, heavy industry had fallen to output levels of 20 % of those in 1913. 90 % of all wages were "paid with goods" (payment in form of goods, rather than money). 70 % of locomotives were in need of repair and the food requisitioning, combined with the effects of 7 years of war and a severe drought, contributed to a famine that caused between 3 and 10 million deaths." (33)

IV.3 Comparative Analysis
            The Soviet accounts acknowledge that the industrial output declined despite policies implemented under war communism. However, for Soviet historians, neither the Bolshevik government nor the working classes, but the World War itself was responsible for the decline in industrial output. Lenin introduced various innovative policies to counter-react the productive reductions that helped the Soviet Union to thwart further losses. Lastly, the worker patriotism, in the form of subbotniks, also made a great contribution to the Soviet economy.
            The Western accounts, without doubt, acknowledge that the industrial output decline during the period of war communism. However, rather than enumerating reasons for its justification, the Western sources focus on highlighting the devastating consequences engendered by Soviet war communism.

V. Lenin's Pursuit of Equality

V.1 Soviet Accounts
            One of the main slogan used in the October Revolution called for the rise of proletariats and achievement of complete equality. For many times, Lenin stated that one of his major objectives was to eradicate the bourgeois and its customs, as can be seen from Lenin's comment below.
            "In March and April 1918 there arose the question of remunerating specialists according to rates which fitted bourgeois rather than socialist relationships, rates which corresponded not to difficult or onerous conditions of work, but to bourgeois customs and the conditions of a bourgeois society. Such exceptionally high, bourgeois-type remuneration was not part of the original plan of Soviet power, and it did not fit in with a whole series of decrees passed at the end of 1917." (34)
            In addition, an official decree published in the year of October Revolution implies that the Bolsheviks attempted to achieve equality.
            "On 18 November 1917 (Old Style) Lenin drafted a decree ¡®On the extent of rewards for People's Commissars, his employees and officials'. This set a ceiling of 500 rubles a month for single persons, with an additional 100 rubles for each non-working member of married employees' families. The decree stipulated that their living space was to be limited to a maximum of one room per person : special rates of taxation were to be introduced among foal commissars and high-standing officials, and the Ministry (as it was then) of Finances and individual commissars were to study salary estimates for ministries and cut back all high salaries and pensions." (35)
            Although there is rarely a separate chapter devoted to equality, the Soviet sources often imply that the basis for social, economic policies are on enhancing people¡¯s equality. Since he acquired strong leadership, Lenin endeavored to achieve equality in diverse sectors of society. This is partly the reason that the Soviet sources depict Lenin as the greatest hero of communism, which stresses the suppression of bourgeoisie and the rise of proletariat over unequal distribution of wealth. (36)

V.2 Secondary Sources
            Equality is a major tenet of communism and a noticeable phrase that the Bolsheviks used to gain support during their revolution. However, Lenin was not the perfect leader who faithfully followed Marxist cause. Lenin either ignored the issue deliberately or supported inequality in order to maintain his privilege. Although Marx also recognized that certain level of inequality inevitably exists in communist society, Lenin introduced such inequality to gain firm leadership. Lenin was interested in gaining political control rather than establishing a Utopian society, even if he had to sacrifice his people's equality.
            "Lenin was a realist, and was prepared to overlook contradictions of theory and practical necessity when the occasion required it. His argument specifically allowed for differences, albeit unjust and impermanent, in wealth, and was there for use if needed." (37)
            There is a record that the Bolsheviks tried to remedy income inequality, but their remedy did seldom narrow the income discrepancy under a certain level.
            "A few months later the Bolsheviks began narrowing wage differentials between workers of differing skills. Scales published for railway workers and employees in Petrograd were set at 285 to 510 rubles a month, giving a ratio of only 1:1.8 between bottom and top rates. Though some way from equality, this was a much smaller gap than had been common hitherto." (38)
            Income tax, which was supposed to equalize incomes, did not redistribute earnings at all. Income system was merely another tool to produce inequality, and to indulge government and party officials, military officers, and professionals.
            "The first step in the establishment of a regular system of income tax was taken on 23 November 1922, when a scale of fourteen rates, which absorbed progressively from 0.8 to 15 per cent of income, was established. This covered earnings between 150 and 5,000 rubles a month; the relatively low ceiling suggested that it was not intended to be a serious instrument for income redistribution. A year later the principle of tax differentiation by occupation (as well as income) was elaborated. The lowest-taxed groups were 'hired labourers', later to be called 'workers and employees' ... In 1923 two sets of scales were published especially for high earners; but since the bases chosen were different, their practical results are difficult to compare. It seems that the maximum rate of tax settled at a ceiling of 20 per cent, which must again be considered moderate. The military, militia, and GPU were free from income tax altogether." (39)
            Not only in collecting income taxes but also in food rationing do historians criticize Lenin's paradoxical attitude. According to Matthews, the Soviet food rationing system in 1920s was highly unequal and sometimes dictatorial, as people in certain positions benefited unreasonably more than people in other positions.
            "The establishment of the Red Army brought the introduction of separate rations for servicemen and their families, the so-called military peak, with, again, different levels for those serving at the front and in the rear. The service supplies were superior enough for many people in non-military enterprises to get themselves registered for them; in 1919 alone, Cheka personnel, the militia, and workers in certain specially chosen factories, political agitators, trainee soviet and Komsomol officials were transferred by special regulation. This practice became so common that a special 'Commission for Transfers to Red Army Rations' was set up in September 1919 and in March 1920 the task was taken over by the Narkomprod Commission for Supplying Workers." (40)
            He continues his critical argument by suggesting that Lenin¡¯s attempts to promote social equality was half-hearted; rather, his economic policies promoted the development of the privileged class who gradually widened the income gap throughout the Soviet history.
            "Of particular interest to us is the appearance of privileged rations outside the general scheme. A decree passed on 30 April 1920 stated that 'Special supply norms (should be) established for workers and employees of enterprises and institutions of particular significance to the state, for workers in particularly onerous or dangerous jobs, and for persons of specially highly qualified kinds of mental labour ...' Arrangements for the latter were spelt out in more detail in the law of 23 June 1921 on the remuneration of 'responsible workers'. According to this, such persons retained the right to normal workers' payment in kind (when effected) and also got 'an additional supply in kind, according to norms worked out by the Central Commission for Supplying Workers, with the agreement of the Labour Norms Department of the All-Russian Trade Union office'. This was the so-called 'responsible ration'. An 'academic ration' was introduced, as mentioned above, in October 1921, and there may well have been other types. Interestingly enough, provisions for 'special issues' were even included in the law on free food, passed when the famine was at its worst in December 1920." (41)

V.3 Comparative Analysis
            Citing several speeches made by Lenin, the Soviet historians stressed that the Bolshevik government spent incalculable effort to equalize distribution. Though most sources do not explicitly state that equality was well-achieved in Lenin¡¯s years, their explanations were obvious and strong enough to give an impression that equality was the major policy goal that Lenin¡¯s government strived to achieve.
            In contrast, the Western sources suggest that although Lenin might have made some efforts to improve unequal distribution, his policies were not effective enough to achieve equality. In some cases, Lenin deliberately provided unequal incomes to his officials so that his leadership could be strengthened. Poverty from the World War remained major problem to be solved and the workers could not get the reward they deserved.

VI. The New Economic Policy

VI.1 Soviet Accounts
            War communism continued until the first phase of 1920s. However, the war was already over and the Soviet Union did not need all the weapons and ammunitions that urban workers made in heavy industry. There were not enough people put into agricultural sector, and thus the food was in shortage. (42) Lenin also seemed to recognize this tricky situation.
            "'Our proletariat,' Lenin said at the Tenth Congress of the Communist Party, 'has been largely declassed; the terrible crises and the closing down of the factories have compelled people to flee from starvation. The workers have simply abandoned their factories; they have had to settle down in the country and have ceased to be workers.'" (43)
            In these conditions, the necessity for radically revising the economic policy of the government became obvious. What had been possible and indispensable in the conditions of the civil war and foreign intervention became impossible and sometimes, harmful. (44) War communism had become old and useless and Lenin had to introduce a new, radical economic policy in order to suppress the problems. The Soviet accounts tell us that the shift from war communism to the New Economic Policy was swift and smooth. It was Lenin's economic acumen that led to the creation and the successful implementation of NEP. (45)
            "Accordingly, in March 1921 the Tenth Party Congress passed the historic decision to adopt a New Economic Policy. The decision said: 'To ensure correct and undisturbed management of the economy through granting the farmers greater freedom in using their economic resources and to strengthen the peasant economy and raise its output and also correctly define the farmers' commitments to the state, the surplus-requisitioning system as a form of government procurements of food, raw materials and fodder will be supplied by a tax in kind." (46)
            The swift transition to the NEP, as the Soviet argument goes, revived agriculture. The government took various measures to increase agricultural productivity: it had reduced the unnecessary, infertile lands, distributed seeds and equipments, allocated money and food for public catering in the country side, and exempted taxes in poverty-stricken areas. (47) Podkolzin boasts agricultural progress with several statistics showing increase in total output. One of the statistics, showing the growth of gross agricultural output (in million centners), is illustrated below.

Table 2: Growth of gross agricultural output (48)
1921 1922 1923 1924 1925
All Grain Crops 422.9 562.7 573.8 514.0 776.9
Cotton 0.2 0.2 1.4 3.4 5.4
Sugar-beet 4.2 18.9 28.4 34.9 90.7

            The total production in industrial sector was also increased by the New Economic Policy. Nevertheless, it was on the restoration of industry, rather than agriculture, that Lenin¡¯s government concentrated its effort and attention. Lenin personally commented that "Without it, no real socialist foundation for our economic life is possible." (49) Podkolzin again gives statistical data to demonstrate Lenin's achievement.

Table 3: Development of industry in 1920-25 (in million rubles) (50)
Year Total industrial output Production of means of production Production of consumer goods Fixed assets Average annual number of workers
1913 10,251 4,177 6,074 6,820 2,592,000
1920 1,410 665 745 8,090 N/A
1921 2,004 876 1,128 7,930 1,298,000
1922 2,619 1,173 1,446 7,935 1,199,000
1923 4,005 1,925 2,080 7,969 1,480,000
1924 4,660 2,109 2,551 8,016 1,698,000
1925 7,739 3,356 4,383 8,105 2,119,000

            In addition, Khrushchev's memoir also recognizes Lenin's wisdom in altering the economic policy. Although Khrushchev's memoir does not compliment the NEP one-sidedly - he predicted NEP¡¯s negative outcomes, which did take place and which the Western historians criticized indeed - he provided a positive appreciation on the policy as a whole.
            "I remember that time well when destruction and hunger were suddenly followed by the revival of the towns, when food products appeared and prices began to fall. The NEP was of course a retreat. But it allowed us to cope with the consequences of the Civil War and to regain our strength. Lenin's wisdom became apparent in this policy. In 1921 he adopted this dangerous but necessary and unavoidable, courageous, decisive, and far-seeing measure - the transition to the NEP. You could say that it was a rather general term, but in essence what this policy did was to give private property a chance to revive, and it allowed the kulaks to take on a new life, not to mention the middle peasants. Merchant and trader elements also raised their heads and got back on their feet pretty solidly." (51)

VI.2 Secondary Sources
            The statistics shown by Podkolzin might have been exaggerated by the Soviet officials. However, the fact that agricultural and industrial output increased during the NEP hardly changes. In general, Western sources state that NEP enhanced total economic output. However, the NEP was not as perfect as Soviet accounts describe; it had, obviously, some pitfalls. The below quotation taken from Wikipedia summarizes this situation.
            "By 1928, agricultural and industrial production had been restored to the 1913 (pre-WWI) level. However, unemployment skyrocketed under the NEP and a wider gap was created between classes. Small-scale and light industries were largely in the hands of private entrepreneurs or cooperatives." (52)
            However, these sources also stress one problem that Soviet accounts seldom mention: class division. The so-called NEP-men and private traders called Nepmen emerged during the NEP. These two types of people took advantage of capitalistic elements of NEP and accumulated more wealth than other people did. In addition, the peasants learned that when the grain is in short supply, they could keep their harvests for a while and get higher prices in the future. Subtle conflict between these peasants and Soviet officials who hoped to suppress inflation seems to have existed, although the Soviet accounts hardly provide explanation on this issue. Ziegler provides details to pros and cons of NEP and its influence on the class division.
            "Under NEP the economy recovered quickly, although agriculture outpaced industry. A grain surplus in 1923 drove down prices for farmers, while the prices of manufactured goods, still in short supply, were increasing. This 'scissors crisis' led peasants to withhold their products in the hope of obtaining higher prices in the future. For many Bolshevik leaders, this market behavior threatened their plans for industrialization and reinforced their suspicion of the peasants¡¯ political reliability. ... One difference was the existence of a network of private traders, or Nepmen, some of whom became quite wealthy. Nepmen were frequently resented for their prosperity, as were the kulaks, or prosperous peasants. ... NEP's limited capitalism, however, had also increased social differentiation. The privileges and wealth of some private entrepreneurs and officials provoked jealousy and conflicted with the egalitarian goals of the Revolution." (53)
            The economic and agricultural prosperity, however, seems to have halted in the mid-1920s. They were overwhelmed by the heightened class conflicts between peasants and kulaks, merchants and Nepmen. Dijlas in 1928 summarized the economic difficulties during the mid-1920s as below.
            "Soviet accounts of the mid-twenties, and the comments of visitors to Moscow, provide almost uniformly negative assessment of them. NEP-men are portrayed as dealers of dubious honesty, owners of clubs, vaudeville houses, etc." (54)

VI.3 Comparative Analysis
            Podkolzin¡¯s book appended dozens of statistic tables that show increases in various sectors of economy during the NEP. Western sources do not disagree with this statistics; rather, they recognize that NEP restored stagnated industry and enhanced agricultural output. On the other hand, while Soviet sources focus on the backgrounds of the NEP and ¡°numbers¡± it achieved, Western sources provides negative aspects from the NEP: widened class division, income gap, and class struggle. Some of them also point out that prosperity created by the NEP had lasted only until the NEP was valid, which means that even the NEP could not solve fundamental problems lied within the Soviet economy.

VII. The Five Year Plans

VII.1 Soviet Accounts
            Meanwhile, Stalin's Five Year Plan, the policy that triggered massive criticisms from rightist economists and historians, might have had some gains. The Soviet press had positive stories to report about industrial gains of Five Year Plan, thereby enhancing peace and stability among proletariats. Nettl proposes this possibility in his book.
            "In the next few years the achievements of the Five Year Plan provided the main content of news in the Soviet Union. Production statistics became the thought and life of Soviet society. For foreign communists and sympathizers the cautious self-regarding foreign policy of the Soviet Union, and the macabre horrors of the great purges to come, could be made intellectually bearable only by off-setting them against the industrial attainments of socialist Russia." (55)
            Nettl saw the Five Year Plan as the new driving force that resolved the confusions within the loosely bounded Russian society. Calling the first Five Year Plan as the second industrial revolution, he explains that Stalin transformed and reshaped the society into a more modern, orderly one. (56)
            "The Bolshevik's second industrial revolution began in 1928. It was this which ultimately gave the Soviet Union its modern character, the basic image and various other associations implied by the term Soviet Communism. In one sense this second revolution completed the work of Lenin and the old Bolsheviks. Where they had superimposed a new philosophy, a new instrument of rule and a new group of leaders on an ancient predominantly peasant society, Stalin and his new Bolsheviks reached right down into every cranny of conservatism with their plans of steel and concrete and their foreshortened but irresistible Marxist pedagogy. By the time Stalin died the Soviet Union had been completely transformed ? not only as an international entity but as a society." (57)
            Moreover, Soviet economic historian Podkolzin explains that many Soviet people were involved in sizeable capital operations, and paid heavy taxes as a result. The overall success of their ventures was accompanied by a rapid differentiation among them.
            "A tax on private revenue was paid, according to official statistics, by some 467,000 persons, of whom 16,000, or 3.5 percent, declared an annual income of 3,000 rubles or more, that is, five times the average wage." (58)
            Until the first phase of Five Years Plan, the situation was not as bad as rightist historians criticize. Stalin was not much less autocratic and dictatorial as Western history books explain. He knew how to concern the lives of working classes. For example, he improved income tax system to meet the needs of working classes. In the late 1920s and early 30s, some of the major problems of income tax system created in Lenin¡¯s regime were conspicuously reduced. Nettl describes the circumstances during the Five Years Plan as follows.
            "The authorities took a significant step towards protecting state workers and employees from the growing rigours of income taxation by a law of 3 April 1932. The maximum liability for workers and employees had been rising since the mid-twenties, and had reached 38 per cent for sums over 2,000 rubles a month. The new measure reduced it to 3.5 per cent of wages over 500 rubles. This was obviously tantamount to abolishing the tax altogether, and was particularly helpful for the highly paid." (59)
            However, these primary sources hardly make any statistics about the actual increase (or decrease) in industrial output that the Five Year Plans engendered. Assuming from the criticisms that Western historians have made, the Five Year Plans were not as effective as the New Economic Policy was. Among the primary sources, we may find a brief explanation that the Five Year Plans were not going well in the 1930s in Khrushchev's memoirs, as the quotation below shows.
            "Even then reports began to come through to us that things were not so good in the rurals, that not everything was going smoothly with the collective farms. (60)

VII.2 Secondary Sources
            Assuming from the numerous criticisms made on Stalin's influence on Soviet society, it is likely that Stalin had not been intelligent in carrying out economic policies. In general, Western historians and economists retain critical stance against his economic acumen. Numerous reports suggest that Five Year Plans caused more inefficiency and decreased production rather than economic contributions. The problems of Five Year Plans are particularly noticeable in the provision of consumer goods and poverty, as several quotations below illustrate.
            "We have already mentioned the unsatisfactory provision of consumer goods in the Soviet Union; indeed, supplies of essentials may be interrupted for months on end. Reports of this sort of thing can be numbered in hundreds. Thus shortages of milk, vegetables and cooking utensils, to name but three at random, have recently been registered in Moscow." (61)
            "Famines in Russia are like hurricanes in the Caribbean, a recurrent disaster built into the life-cycle and consciousness of the population. But the famine of 1932 became a Soviet legend of terror, just as the simultaneous industrial depression in the West in still the cautionary basis of our industrial folklore." (62)
            "Around many of the major cities of the Soviet Union, both in the old industrial Russia of the west and in the new towns in the centre east, there grew a ring of improvised dwellings, often no more than holes in the ground, in which whole families crowded together. The provision of an adequate apartment was in fact one of the rewards for deserving workers and technicians, and therefore a major incentive." (63)
            "The myth of the good times under Lenin and NEP grew up in this period, particularly in the countryside. Some people even thought nostalgically of pre-war Russia, though of course they did not dare to say so." (64)
            Under this miserable living condition, it would be natural for ordinary people to reflect the good old days under Lenin - and Stalin in his early years - although they are not, strictly speaking, 'good' old days. However, workers and peasants were forbidden to make complaints after all the terror committed by Stalin's faithful secret police. (65) Stalin might have believed that, since no complaints or revolutionary signs are observed, everything was going well. In this sense, he persistently continued Five Year Plans with more focus on conservative communist tenets such as farm collectivization. The quotation below suggests the actual reduction in total economic output caused by the Five Year Plan.
            "Nonetheless the squeeze and the Five Year Plan based on it were not relaxed. Agricultural production fell substantially in the early period of collectivization, but the quota of compulsory food deliveries to the state were maintained almost intact - 'the first commandment', as Stalin called it. The difference was made up in the kitchens and hearths of the collective households." (66)
            Unfortunately, there seems to have been few historians who could risk their lives to express his concerns openly. Many of them, such as emigre historian S. Zagorsky, chose to leave Stalin, who was surrounded by his beloved sycophantic economists. "The History of Russia" explains that there were signs that suggested failures of Five Year Plans. However, Stalin was so blind that he simply pushed forward his policy.
            "The domestic stress on economic development was readily echoed by sympathizers everywhere, to explain the disappointing and, for many, downright reactionary, features of Stalinism, its cruelty and its apparently blind unpredictability. Rapid industrial development became the main goal of Soviet society, its attainments a blanket justification for everything else." (67)
            Under these circumstances, Stalin became highly obsessed with statistics with plus numbers on them. In his later years, industrial lines often ignored quality to maximize the quantity, although this could hardly enhanced output under Stalin's inefficient economic policies and decreased morale among workers.
            "At the level of production of the USSR in the late 1920s there could hardly be a serious danger of over-production in physical terms, and the problem of balance was solved, at least for the next decade, by the concentration on heavy industry as a first priority. So everything was ploughed back into more production. The bottlenecks came mainly in distribution, and these were tackled, if not always solved, by the institutionalization of permanent crisis." (68)

VII.3 Comparative Analysis
            Unlike the New Economic Policy, the Five Year Plans improved neither industrial output nor the quality of life in rural areas. As they did for the New Economic Policy, the Soviet sources enumerate backgrounds that led to the establishment of the Five Year Plans, with several justifications of how and why the Five Year Plans were introduced. On the contrary, Western sources are filled with criticisms that uncover negative consequences of the Five Year Plans. Various sources provide meticulous descriptions on how the actual life was in the 1930s, how the workers suffered within a thorough working environment, and why the production dropped. Discrepant accounts on the Five Year Plan might be an evidence that Soviet censorship concealed damages created by the Five Year Plans from the Soviet people.

VIII. Stakhanovism

VIII.1 Soviet Accounts
            In 1935 a coal-miner called Alexei Stakhanov succeeded in producing 102 tons of anthracite in a work shift of five and three-quarter hours at the Irmino Coal Mine in Ukraine. This is a great event in social history of the Soviet Union in that it introduced a new work doctrine. Called Stakhanovism, this new idea enhanced workers¡¯ morale and increased industrial production. As a 1935 resolution by the Communist Party states, Stakhanovism was a fresh work model for the Soviet authorities.
            "The Stakhanovite movement means organizing labor in a new fashion, rationalizing technologic processes, correct division of labor, liberating qualified workers from secondary spadework, improving work place, providing rapid growth for labor productivity and securing significant increase of workers' salaries" (69)
            Although there is hardly a separate chapter for Stakhanovism exclusively, the Soviet accounts explain that Stakhanovism was the quintessential movement in Stalin's Five Year Plans. Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. Institute of history introduces Stakhanovism by opening a real story of what Alexei Stakhanov achieved in his mines.
            "On August 31, 1935, a young miner named Alexei Stakhanov cut 102 tons of coal with a mechanical pick in a single shift, exceeding the existing quota by 1,300 per cent. This remarkable achievement was not accidental. Following Stakhanov's example miners and workers in other industries achieved higher output quotas after they had correctly organized their work cycle and mastered new machinery. ... The Communist Party and Soviet Government gave the initiators of the new movement every encouragement. An All-Union Conference of Stakhanovite workers was held in the Kremlin in November 1935 with the participation of leaders of the Party and Government. Workers from different branches of industry told the conference how they had achieved a high level of labour productivity." (70)
            Stakhanovism, according to the Soviet sources, brought about enhancement in overall work ethics as well as total industrial production. The Institute concludes that Stakhanovism even shortened the original Five Year Plan (2nd) several months, a feat which was remarkable considering the fact that the later Five Year Plans were not achieved within five years.
            "As a result of the Stakhanov movement labour productivity in the course of the Second Five-Year Plan rose by 82 per cent instead of by 63 per cent as envisaged by the plan. Thanks to this, the Second Five-Year Plan, like the first, was fulfilled in four years and three months." (71)

VIII.2 Secondary Sources
            Although Soviet accounts stresses that Stakhanovism increased total output, Western accounts stresses that Stakhanovism was not an efficient work system but a tremendous burden. Work rules introduced by Stakhanovism were so imposing and severe that they put too much pressure on workers. One Western source introduces Stakhanovism by using such words as 'perpetual pressure' and 'over-fulfill'
            "Stakhanovism had arrived: the perpetual pressure to over-fulfill work norms and plans, with rewards of public esteem and material benefits in money and kind for success, and public condemnation or punishment for failure." (72)
            Wikipedia also explains that Stakhanovism was a propaganda movement rather than an efficient work ethics. During the Five Year Plans, the workplaces that were experimented with Stakhanovism received the best equipment with the best treatment by the officials. Under this favorable environment, it would be awkward for the workplaces not to produce a remarkable result. (73) It uses Soviet newspaper published in Gorbachev's years as an example, which acknowledged a propagandistic element in Stakhanovism.
            "In 1988, Soviet newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda claimed that the widely propagandized personal achievements of Stakhanov were puffery - the paper insisted that Stakhanov had used a number of helpers on support works, while the throughput was tallied for him alone. Stakhanov's approach had eventually led to the increased productivity by means of a better organization of the work, including specialization and task sequencing, according to the Soviet state media." (74)

VIII.3 Comparative Analysis
            The major difference between Soviet and Western accounts in explaining Stakhanovism is that the latter focuses on its propagandistic element while the former does not. The Soviet account explains that Stakhanovite movement made a major contribution to Stalin's Five Year Plans; on the contrary, although some suggests verity of the explanations on the Soviet accounts, Western sources tend to trivialize the movement by treating it as one of Stalin's many propaganda campaigns

IX. The Great Purge

IX.1 Soviet Accounts
            Soviet accounts maintain that Stalin took advantage of the Great Purge to strengthen socialist ideology within the Soviet Union. In other words, the Great Purge was not a ruthless political scandal as many Western sources claim, but a necessary measure to be taken to restore social stability. Khrushchev in his memoir completely agrees that the victims of the Purge deserved death penalty.
            "Everyone who rejoices in the successes achieved in our country, the victories of our party led by the great Stalin, will find only one word suitable for the mercenary, fascist dogs of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite gang. That word is execution." (75)
            Meanwhile, Nettl believes that the Great Purge was a choice that Stalin had to make in order to boost production. He writes that the Great Purge was not only a measure that eliminated Stalin's enemies but also an inevitable decision to stimulate the Five Year Plan. Instead of spurring the atrocity of Stalin, it suggests that there was a sociopolitical cause for the Great Purge.
            "The great purges from 1934 to 1938 seem to be in flagrant contradiction to the demands of forced industrialization. If the party was to lead society in its enormous production drive, it would surely need to be cohesive and united. But there are two approaches to cohesion and unity: consensus or discipline, persuasion or terror. Stalin chose the latter alternative. Society and Party were galvanized simultaneously." (76)

IX.2 Secondary Sources
            Few sources that came from Western countries justify Stalin's truculence in the Great Purge. The Great Purge is just one of many conspiracies plotted by Stalin. Victims had hardly anything to do with the threat to national stability; there is even evidence that the NKVD tortured the victims in order to make them confess in front of the court. (76a) Society was surrounded by fear, and there was hardly anyone who could defy Stalin's absolute power. Milovan Diljas, who had personal acquaintance with Stalin, reflects Stalin in the years of Great Purge in his book.
            "The world in which the Soviet leaders lived was slowly taking on a new appearance to me: horrible unceasing struggle on all sides. Everything was being stripped bare and reduced to strife which changed only in form and in which only the stronger and the more adroit survived. Full of admiration for the Soviet leaders even before this, I now succumbed to a heady enthusiasm for the inexhaustible will and awareness which never left them for a moment." (77)
            In other books, historians criticized Stalin for going contradictory to the communist ideals. Karl Marx had never emphasized the use of fear and truculence in stabilizing a communist nation, the argument goes, Stalin committed a massacre that did rarely restore peace to the Soviet Union. Ziegler evaluates Stalin¡¯s contradiction in an objective manner, as quoted below.
            "Marxist theory had predicted that with the triumph of communism, the state, which had only served as a repressive mechanism to maintain the ruling classes in power, would begin to wither away. In Stalinist Russia the reverse happened - the state grew and became extraordinarily powerful. The new Soviet Constitution of 1936 proclaimed that the gains of the Five Year Plans had established socialism in the USSR. However, Stalin argued that progress toward the final goal of full communism would intensify resistance by counterrevolutionary forces, and so increased oppression would be necessary to crush the opposition." (78)

IX.3 Comparative Analysis
            The image that people from democratic countries draw when they hear the Great Purge is a city of Moscow plotted by blood. Western historians have long been maintaining that the Great Purge was one of the most cruel and meaningless conspiracy that proves Stalin being an autocrat. On the contrary, however, Soviet historians have their own reason to justify the Great Purge. For them, the Great Purge was recognized as an event that reduced unnecessary components of society. They also explain that the Great Purge slowed down the progress of the country since it had killed all the officials who had made numerous contributions to society, and thus had know-how of how to lead the majority to work harder.

X. Evaluation of Stalin¡¯s Leadership

X.1 Soviet Accounts
            The leadership of the party head during Stalin's years¡¯ was nearly absolute. The Soviet sources describe Stalin as an omnipotent leader who could lay all kinds of power in his hand. These sources do not laud Stalin's feats in one-sided direction, but recognizes the fact that public propaganda laid the basis of his external popularity.
            "Soon, however, all the achievements of the Soviet people began to be attributed to him [Stalin]. The cult of his personality had taken shape by the time the Seventeenth Party Congress was convened in 1934. At the Congress he was excessively lauded for his services to the Party and country. For the first time in the Party's history a Congress failed to adopt an extended resolution on the report of the Central Committee, confining itself to a decision to take the conclusions and propositions in the report read by Stalin as a guide." (79)
            A series of events and political situations made Stalin to believe that no one could dare to challenge his power. Stalin began to think that every single contribution made by the Soviet people could be attributed to his hard work. He detached himself from the Leninist approach to socialism, and formed his own, absolute (sometime autocratic) leadership to maintain his power.
            "By that time Stalin had come to believe that he was infallible and begun departing more and more from the Leninist standards and principles of Party life, violating the principle of collective leadership and abusing his position. The negative features of his personality-incivility, disloyalty to leading Party workers, intolerance of criticism, administration by injunction - came to the fore. The joint Central Control Commission ? Workers¡¯ and Peasants¡¯ Inspection, which prevented him from concentrating unlimited power in his hands, was abolished on his suggestion." (80)
            On the whole, the Soviet sources agree that there was some problem with Stalin¡¯s leadership. However, it seldom concludes that mischiefs
            "The Stalin personality cult and its negative consequences seriously harmed the socialist state and weakened its leading organs. However, the cult could neither change the nature of Soviet society nor stop its onward development." (81)
            Yet, some Soviet historians accredit Stalin¡¯s exploit to have established the foundation for modernization after his death. This pro-Stalin viewpoint suggest that Stalin had built a bigger nation with stronger unity and without his strong political stance, the Soviet Union could not have so much developed as Nettl clarifies in the quotation below.
            "Without doubt, all the developments since 1953 were built on Stalin¡¯s foundation - re-shaped and modified; it is true, but totally dependent on what he had created between 1929 and 1953. The Soviet Union had grown both stronger and bigger. ... Stalin had tapped the pioneering spirit of revolutionary enthusiasm which made many young people willing to accept immense hardships for the sake of building the new society - new in the literal sense that factory chimneys now dominated the tundra and steppes where there had only been emptiness before." (82)

X.2 Secondary Sources
            Western historians describe communist party under Stalin to be paradoxical. Party officials, who were supposed to enhance communist ideals and provide equality of well-being to the public, were succumbed to Stalin¡¯s autocratic attitude. (83) To avoid from becoming victims of Stalin's whim, they provided themselves - and Stalin - with privileges that proletarians could never think of. The party officials were reduced to hypocrites who boasted himself to be the vanguard of communism but pursued attitudes of privileged bourgeois.
            "Now these frontiers were to shift and to dissolve; people became capitalists or representatives of capitalist interests by edict, because Stalin and the leadership said so. The doctrine of objective treachery came to mean that you could spend a lifetime in the cause of communism, and yet be objectively bourgeois - a traitor." (84)
            As years went by, Stalin became more and more dictatorial, creating terror within the political arena. There are numerous accounts that criticize his terror politics, claiming that it prevented party officials from implementing more realistic, flexible policies that might have improved the socioeconomic condition in 30s and 40s. (85) Yet, Soviet historians - whether they did in their own will or not - suggested that Stalin's terror politics added political stability by preventing possible revolutionary movements ahead. In addition, although many historians focus on its innocent victims, they claimed that the Five Year Plan eliminated many evils from the Society: By removing some of the wealthiest population - except the party and military officials ? Stalin succeeded in promoting proletarian welfare and retained his authority. (86)
            In addition, Stalin induced class struggles from proletariats against kulaks and other evils of society. He intentionally created conflict between workers and peasants : party focus on urban cities (87); in the mean time, the Bolsheviks instigated the peasants to go against the landlords :
            "In the big cities of western Russia the process of finally divorcing towns from country, implicit in the sharp Bolshevik class differentiation between workers and peasants, was carried to its final stage by the twin policies of collectivization and the Five Year Plans. The Communist Party had been and continued to be an urban party, the efforts to broaden it feeble and spasmodic; the country was left to sink into an oblivion fitfully illuminated by an occasional flurry of statistics." (88)
            Consequently, the landless labourers began asserting their rights over the privileged class and it gradually brought about the deterioration of the 'evil' classes Stalin wanted to suppress.
            "Officially, at any rate, collectivization followed the pattern which Stalin had tried to lay down : a sharpened class struggle in the countryside, guided by the Party, in the course of which the smaller peasants and landless labourers successfully asserted themselves against the kulaks. Kulaks soon ceased to be any distinct class or group." (89)
            Overall, western historians view Stalin as a ruthless dictator rather than a concerned politician. They believe that Stalin instilled fear within the Soviet society, and this dire atmosphere created many problems from inter-class conflicts to the inefficiency resulted from the Great Purge. (90) The quotation below is one of many comments critical of Stalin's works.
            "What was the Soviet Union like when Stalin died ? It is only fourteen years ago yet it already requires a distinct effort of recall; history moves very fast in the Soviet Union. Moreover the sense of dissociation from the past is shared by the foreign observer and the Soviet citizen himself." (91)

X.3 Comparative Analysis
            Contrary to some people's belief, Soviet historians have not complimented Stalin's feat in a single direction. Rather, they have implied, although indirectly, that Stalin has flaws that made him a stubborn character. One difference between them and the Western historians is that the former does not forget to mention that Stalin was a great leader who built economic foundation solidly over 1930s and 40s while the latter illuminates his autocratic, absolute manners. In describing a leader, thus, the Soviet and Western sources have different point of views.

XI. Seven-Year Plan

XI.1 Soviet Accounts
            In 1950s, the economic output of the Soviet Union, which had been in continued decline ever since the Five Year Plan, increased dramatically. Most Soviet sources attributed this feat to efficient working environment, socialist re-education program for workers and peasants, and most importantly, NKVD. NKVD had been "responsible for political murders of those Stalin believed to oppose him" and the center of secret assassinations and espionage activities (92). Yet, Khrushchev transformed it as the center of economic production after Stalin's death. The below explanation by Nettl illustrates NKVD's economic contribution.
            "The labour needs of this industrial infrastructure required a continuous supply of prisoners which the courts and the NKVD provided. By 1953 NKVD was not merely a powerful enforcement organization but had become a subterranean empire of economic production, paying minimal wages and providing as much accumulation as low productivity and high wastage through disease and death would allow. Though few people in the Soviet Union had any notion just what was involved, and official statistics made no allowance for this unremunerated labour, the planners in the early 1950s might well have wondered how the growth rate could be maintained in future without this contribution." (93)
            By reforming NKVD, Khrushchev helped to boost up the total economic production of the Soviet Union. This is the first step that Khrushchev took to reform the Soviet economy and laid the foundation for his Seven-Year Plan that began in 1956. His reforms introduce prior to the Seven-Year Plan are often coined with the increased job satisfaction, another factor that boosted industrial output during Khrushchev's years.
            "After the twenty-five years of Stalinism a high identification of work with pleasure remained the dominant ethos. Recent investigations in the Soviet Union show that the level of job satisfaction among respondents to questionnaires is significantly higher than in other industrial countries - even though this may not be evidence of anything but a commitment to the notion that this is how it ought to be." (94)
            When Khrushchev grasped the party leadership, he was determined to remedy economic illness engendered by Stalin. Through a series of practical reforms, Khrushchev laid a solid foundation for his major economic policy, Seven-Year Plan. His pre-reforms were effective enough for Khrushchev to see a positive result in the Seven Years Plan. The following is a quote from the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. describing the achievement made during the Seven-Year Plan.
            "The labour effort of the Soviet people, their deep sense of patriotism, coupled with the extensive organizational and ideological work done by the Party, has been crowned with success. The industrial targets of the Seven-Year Plan are being duly reached. Aggregate industrial production will be 84 per cent higher than the plan¡¯s starting figure, instead of the originally planned 80 per cent. The average annual rate of industrial growth in the 1959-65 period has been 9.1 per cent. This contrasts favourably with the 3.9 per cent industrial growth rate of the United States in the past seven years (up to and including 1964). Soviet production capacity has expanded appreciably as old enterprises were modernized and new ones were built. The Soviet Union has built and started up more than 5,500 large industrial enterprises in the seven years of plan. The fixed assets of the state have nearly doubled." (95)
            However, Khrushchev could not continue his success made in the first phase of the Plan till the end. From 1960, several problems came to hamper the progress of the Seven-Year Plan, including industrial, agricultural, and social problems. Soviet historians seem to be aware of the failure of the plan in the later years, as the quotation below illustrates.
            "But for all the indubitable success, serious deficiencies came to light in the development of Soviet industry during the Seven Year period. Oversights in the projecting and planning of capital construction created delays and added to the cost of building. The lag of agriculture tended to slow up the industrial development rates, particularly in industries producing consumer goods. A slight drop was also registered in the growth of labour productivity." (96)

XI.2 Secondary Sources
            The achievement of the Seven-Year Plan is well recognized by the Western historians. The statistics that show industrial growth during the latter half of 1950s is accepted by the Western sources, which claim that the Seven-year plan increased production as well as people's well-being.
            "During the seven-year plan, industrial progress was substantial, and production of consumer durables also grew. The national income increased 58 percent, according to official statistics. Gross industrial production rose by 84 percent, with producer goods up 96 percent and consumer goods up 60 percent." (97)
            Likewise, the Western sources also introduce Khrushchev's failure in maintaining a coherent economic policy till the 1960s. The startling growth rate was no longer seen in Khrushchev's later years, due to decreased work morale as well as his own shortage of insight. The quotation below introduces how Khrushchev misled the policy in the end. It also claims that his failure in economic policy served as one reason for his abdication in 1964.
            "Growth rates slowed noticeably during the final years of the plan, however. Party leaders blamed Khrushchev's bungling efforts to reform the centralized planning system and his tendency to overemphasize programs in one economic sector (such as his favorite, the chemical industry) at the expense of other sectors. Agriculture's performance proved disappointing in the 1960s; adverse weather in 1963 and 1965, as well as Khrushchev's interference and policy reversals, which confused and discouraged the peasants' work on their private plots, were contributing factors. Khrushchev's economic policies were a significant, although not sole, reason for his dismissal in October 1964." (98)

XI.3 Comparative Analysis
            Khrushchev's Seven-Year Plan was implemented in his hope to relieve harmful outcomes produced during Stalin's regime. With Solid foundation, it succeeded in bringing up the Soviet economy, but its success did not last until the end. Unlike other topics, Seven-Year Plan is an issue that Soviet and Western historians share similar viewpoints without any significant contradictions. The statistics of production increase given by two factions are also coherent, showing a moderate boost in the 1950s and the decline in 1960s.

XII Conclusion
            In western countries, people tend to evaluate communist policies in the Soviet Union based on the level of democratic elements involved in them. If policies contained some aspects of democracy and capitalism, they received acclaims; if policies contained democratic and capitalistic aspects, they received acclaims; if policies excluded these aspects, then they were condemned and criticized. However, as this paper has shown, evaluating communism in the Soviet Union at different time period poses several obstacles. First, the Soviet historiography is by and large unreliable, as Soviet historians were forced by the party to write in favor of the political leadership. Second, most of the western sources may also be biased. During the Cold War, nations under democratic regime were knowingly and unknowingly encouraged to criticize communism. Reflecting this social mood, many historians eschewed from pointing out positive aspects of Soviet communism, leaving historical analysis with possible exaggeration and distortion. Therefore, nothing can be concluded with great certainty about communism in the Soviet Union. Yet, using various primary and secondary sources, this paper showed that historians retain diverse viewpoints about each incident and event in the Soviet history. An in-depth comparison of these sources would give an insight of how certain moments of history in the Soviet Union were in certain period of time.


1.      Wikipedia : Soviet Historiography
2.      ibid.
2a.      ibid.
3.      George M. Enteen, "Recent Writings about Soviet Historiography," Slavic Review, 2002: 357-363; quoted after Wikipedia : Soviet Historiography
4.      Wikipedia : Soviet Historiography
5.      Woolf 1998 Vol.2: Soviet Historiography, p.855
6.      Nettl 1967 p.58
7.      Nikita Khrushchev, First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, 1956, quoted after Wikipedia : Soviet Historiography
8.      Wikipedia : October Revolution
9.      Nettl 1967 p.60
10.      ibid.
11.      ibid. p.61
12.      Podkolzin 1968 p.87
13.      Proclamation in the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets, opened in Petrograd on November 7, 1917, quoted after Podkolzin 1968 p.87
14.      Podkolzin 1968 p.88
15.      Lenin's Letter to the Central Committee on October 23, 1917, quoted after Kreis 2000
16.      Nettl 1967 p.89
17.      ibid.
18.      ibid. p.90
19.      ibid. p.91
20.      Trotsky, The History of Russian Revolution, quoted after Kreis 2000
21.      An appeal issued in April 1917 by the factory committee of the Putilov Works, quoted after Podkolzin 1968 p.94
22.      Podkolzin 1968 pp.94-96
22a.      ibid. p.96
23.      The National Economy of the U.S.S.R. in Figures, Moscow, 1925, p.403, quoted after Podkolzin 1968 pp.96-97
24.      Podkolzin 1968 p.100
25.      ibid. p.101
26.      V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol.29, pp.423-24, quoted after Podkolzin 1968 p.101
27.      Podkolzin 1968 p.101
28.      Wikipedia : Lenin
29.      Matthews 1990 p.75
30.      ibid. p.81
31.      ibid.
32.      Wikipedia : War Communism
33.      ibid.
34.      Lenin, quoted after Matthews 1990 p.92
35.      Nettl 1967 p.69
36.      Khrushchev 2006 Vol.I. p.12
37.      Matthews 1990 p.85
38.      ibid. p.86
39.      ibid.
40.      ibid. p.90
41.      ibid. pp.90-91
42.      ibid. pp.117-117
43.      V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol.32, p.199, quoted after Podkolzin 1968 p.118
44.      Podkolzin 1968 p.118
45.      ibid.
46.      Resolutions and Decisions of the C.P.S.U. Congresses, Conferences, and C.C. Plenary Meetings, Part I, 1954, p.563, quoted after Podkolzin 1968 pp.118-119
47.      ibid. pp.122-123
48.      Statistichesky spravochnik za 1932 god (1932 Statistical Handbook), p.121, quoted after Podkolzin 1968 p.123
49.      V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol.32, p.408, quoted after Podkolzin 1968 p.124
50.      P.I. Lyashchenko, Istoriya narodnogo khozyaistva SSSR (History of the National Economy of the U.S.S.R.), Vol. III, Moscow, 1956, p.165, quoted after Podkolzin 1968 p.129
51.      Khrushchev 2006 Vol.I. p.114
52.      Wikipedia : New Economic Policy
53.      Ziegler 1999 pp.88-89
54.      Djilas 1962 p.37
55.      Nettl 1967 p.102
56.      ibid.
57.      ibid. p.103
58.      Podkolzin 1968 p.130
59.      Nettl 1967 p.110
60.      Khrushchev 2006 Vol.I. p.61
61.      Matthews 1990 p.102
62.      ibid. p.108
63.      ibid. p.109
64.      Zickel 1989 Economic Policy
65.      Wikipedia : Stalin
66.      Matthews 1990 p.109
67.      ibid. p.110
68.      Ziegler 1999 p.114
69.      Resolution of the plenum of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party, made in December 1935, quoted after Wikipedia : Stakhanovite Movement
70.      Academy of Science U.S.S.R. 1965 Part II.: pp.175-176
71.      ibid. p.176
72.      Matthews 1990 p.121
73.      Wikipedia : Stakhanovite Movement
74.      ibid.
75.      Khrushchev, quoted after William Taubman, Khrushchev: The Man and His Era, W.W. Norton & Co., 2003, p.98, quoted after Wikipedia, Article: Khrushchev
76.      Nettl 1967 p.123
76a.      Wikipedia : Great Purge
77.      Djilas 1962 p.52
78.      Ziegler 1999 p.98
79.      Academy of Science U.S.S.R. 1965 Part II.: p.181
80.      ibid.
81.      ibid. p.183
82.      Nettl 1967 p.129
83.      Wikipedia : Stalin
84.      Ziegler 1999 p.106
85.      ibid. p.107 86.      Wikipedia : Stalin
87.      Wikipedia : Five Year Plans
88.      Matthews 1990 p.130
89.      ibid.
90.      Wikipedia : Stalin
91.      ibid.
92.      Wikipedia : NKVD
93.      Nettl 1967 p.40
94.      Podkolzin 1968 p.178
95.      Academy of Science U.S.S.R. 1965 Part II.: p.315
96.      ibid.
97.      Zickel 1989 Economic Policy
98.      ibid.


Note : websites quoted below were visited in December 2009.

Primary Sources
1.      Sergei Khrushchev (ed.), Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev, Vol.1: Commissar, 1918-1945, Providence: Brown UP, 2006
2.      Sergei Khrushchev (ed.), Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev, Vol.2: Reformer, 1945- 1964, Providence: Brown UP, 2006
3.      A. M. Podkolzin, A Short Economic History of the USSR, originally published in Russian in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, translated in English by David Fidlon and published in Moscow: First printed in 1968
4.      Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. Institute of History, A Short History of the USSR Part II, Moscow: Progress Publishers, First Printed in 1965
5.      J. P. Nettl, The Soviet Achievement, (General Editor Geoffrey Barraclough from History of European Civilization Library), New York: First American Edition, Harcourt, Brace, 1967
J. P. Nettl was born in Czechoslovakia in 1926. Raised under the Soviet influence, Nettl learned and experienced the Soviet customs at hand. Nettl's family moved to the United States during the Great Purge, when the Soviet society was engulfed by fear. Since 1960, Nettl has written about international relations between Russia and Western countries, as well as a biography of Rosa Luxemburg. Nettl's ] work on the Soviet Union has, on the whole, focused on objectivity, in which he tries to change the Western biases against the Soviet Union. Among Nettl's works, The Soviet Achievement tries to illuminated legacies made by the Soviet leaders and Soviet people.

Secondary Sources :
6.      D.R. Woolf (Editor), A Global Encyclopedia of Historical Writing: Volume II (K to Z), London, England: First Edition, Garland Publishing, Inc., 1998
7.      Birdsall S. Viault, Modern European History, South Carolina: 6th Edition, An American BookWorks Corporation Project, 1990
8.      Mervyn Matthews, Privilege in the Soviet Union: A Study of Elite Life-Styles under Communism, London: Second Edition, George Allen & Unwin LTD, 1990
9.      Charles E. Ziegler, The History of Russia, London: Greenwood Press, First Edition, 1999
10.      Milovan Djilas, Conversations with Stalin, Orlando, Florida: Renewed Edition, Harcourt Brace & Company,(1962) 1990
11.      Wikipedia Article on Khrushchev :
12.      Wikipedia Article on Stalin :
13.      Wikipedia Article on Lenin:
14.      Wikipedia Article on Soviet Union:
15.      Wikipedia Article on Soviet Military:
16.      Wikipedia Article on the Five Year Plan
17.      Wikipedia Article on Khrushchev's Thaw
18.      Wikipedia Article on the Katyn Massacre
19.      Library of Congress, Country Studies : Soviet Union (ed. R.E. Zickel, 1989) : Economic Policy,
20.      Wikipedia Article on the New Economic Policy
21.      Katyn Forest Massacre : Polish deaths at Soviet Hands, from,
22.      Wikipedia Article on War Communism (Soviet)
23.      Steven Kreis, The History Guide, Lectures on Twentieth Century Europe : The Russian Revolution: Red October and the Bolshevik Coup, 2000,
24.      Wikipedia Article on the Soviet Historiography
25.      Wikipedia Article on the Stakhanovite Movement,
26.      Wikipedia Article on NKVD,
26.      Wikipedia Article on the Great Purge,

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