How Russia Decides to Go Nuclear
Deciphering the Way Moscow Handles Its Ultimate Weapon
MALENKOV'S speech before the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. on August 8, 1953, promising the Russian people much more food and manufactured consumer goods, made a great impression abroad. Perhaps it impressed the inhabitants of the lands behind the Iron Curtain, perhaps not. Who can tell? But in the West, at any rate, the promise was taken as announcement of a complete break with previous Soviet policy. Many learned conjectures were advanced to explain the important change and many imposing forecasts have been built upon it.
Is it really a new policy? Or had it, perhaps, already been proclaimed by the Party Directive for the Fifth Five-Year Plan, 1951-55, accepted in October 1952 by the Nineteenth Congress of the Communist Party and announced in a draft in August of that year? What we can profitably speculate upon is whether the Soviet Government is likely to be able to fulfill Malenkov's promises. And it is a fair guess that the Russian people are wondering about that also, since they have heard such promises before, and know that they were not fulfilled. The Third Five-Year Plan, for instance, pledged to raise the supply of consumer goods during the years 1938-42 slightly more than Malenkov has now promised; in fact, the supplies of consumer goods declined even during the three prewar years of that period.
What is certainly a fact is that Soviet heavy industry has grown rapidly, and from the recognition of that fact comes the belief of the outside world that if the Soviet Government were actually to shift its efforts from heavy industry to light industries and food, results would quickly follow. But is the matter so simple? Textile and food industries supply by far the largest part of the total requirements of consumer goods. Has the Soviet Union enough raw materials to expand them rapidly? Assuming continuation of the autarchic policy which has become sacred to the Soviet Government during the past 20 years, the only source of raw materials for consumer goods is the agriculture of the Union itself. Is the Soviet Government perhaps prepared to repudiate this autarchic policy? If not, then the question is whether Soviet agriculture is in a position to increase the supply of foodstuffs and industrial crops on short notice. By foodstuffs I mean not only grain for bread, but also meat, milk, lard, oil seeds, sugar beets, and fruits and vegetables, because bread alone cannot satisfy the food requirements of a rapidly growing urban population in such an industrialized country as the Soviet Union. The Soviet Government has long kept its population on a diet mainly of bread and potatoes. Perhaps that is why Malenkov is now obliged to speak strongly of better food.
City people like to eat animal products; but to produce them requires several times more labor and land than does vegetable food. Moreover, such textile raw materials as cotton, flax, hemp, wool and silk also require much intensive labor, and some need a warm climate. The area of subtropical climate is very limited in the U.S.S.R., and by far the largest portion of it is very dry and requires irrigation. Again, the cold winter weather typical of most Soviet areas is not favorable for some branches of the livestock industry--merino sheep, for instance; and it also means that buildings are needed for animals.
Certainly the record of the Soviet Government in dealing with such problems is poor. The plan of reorganizing agriculture on a socialized basis, in the form of kolkhozes (collective farms) and sovkhozes (state farms), was started sometime in 1927-28, at about the same time as the First Five-Year Plan of industrial development. Yet in 1940, the last prewar year, after 13 to 14 years of planned development, gross agricultural production as estimated by competent specialists was only 15 percent above the level of 1927-28, whereas production of industrial materials such as coal, petroleum, pig iron and steel has been multiplied several fold. A similar relationship also prevailed during the first postwar plan (1946-1950). Whereas the basic heavy industries rapidly reached and even surpassed prewar levels, and in several cases exceeded the 1950 goals, practically no target established for agricultural products was reached in 1950. The gross agricultural production in that year missed its goal by more than 15 percent. It is not necessary to resort to complicated calculations of various indexes based on incomplete Soviet information to prove this. Khrushchev, First Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, said in the plenary meeting of the Central Committee last September that while gross industrial production increased 2.3 times from 1940 to 1952, gross agricultural production in 1950 exceeded the 1940 level by only 10 percent. It is also significant that light industry, which depends on supplies of raw materials from agriculture, lagged far behind other industries; production in 1950 exceeded the 1940 level by only 17 percent.[i]
At first glance it may seem strange that the Communist rulers could push ahead so rapidly with industrial production, particularly in heavy industry, in a country so relatively backward as prerevolutionary Russia, while meeting with so many failures in reorganizing agriculture, the main occupation of the peoples of the Russian Empire for many centuries. But the discrepancy is natural enough. Most urban proletarians welcomed the nationalization of industrial enterprises and participated actively in taking them over. Early in the revolution the peasants also were active in taking over the large estates, but they were not thinking then of the nationalization of these lands but of parcelling them among themselves. From the outset the Soviet Government proclaimed the principle of nationalization of large estates, but for some time this remained mere words; only a few million acres of the more than 100,000,000 confiscated from large estates were retained as state farms or communes. In order to realize its dreams of large agricultural enterprises, the Communist Party had to undertake a real war against the peasantry in the early 1930's. The peasants remained recalcitrant even after they had been forced into kolkhozes, particularly in the Ukraine and in the areas of Don and Kuban Cossacks where individual ownership of land was more common than in central Russia. The government deliberately starved these peasants into submission in 1932-33 by taking not only the surpluses from the kolkhozes but the food their members needed for survival.
At the end of the First Five-Year Plan in 1932, gross agricultural production, instead of being raised 50 percent as ordered, actually fell 20 to 25 percent below the level of 1927-28. Nearly half of the livestock that peasants possessed before forced collectivization were killed or perished from various causes. This catastrophe in the early years of forced collectivization enabled the Soviet Government to boast of substantial increases under the next two plans, when measured by the disastrously low level of 1932. But recovery was slow and, although in 1940 gross agricultural production was some 15 percent above the pre-collectivization level, the numbers of livestock never were restored to the level of 1928.
Khrushchev called attention last September to the critical condition of the kolkhoz livestock herds, admitting that there were 10,000,000 fewer cattle in the Soviet Union at the beginning of 1953 than in 1928. Nine-tenths of the decline, he said, was in numbers of cows. He also declared that the numbers of sheep and goats in 1952 were also below pre-collectivization levels, and that there were only about two-fifths as many horses as in 1928. His revelations were not news for students of Soviet agriculture, though it was interesting to be told that during 1952 the total number of cattle in the Soviet Union had fallen by 2,200,000 head (one-fourth of which were cows) instead of being raised by the same number, as directed by the Fifth Five-Year Plan. That this information should be shared with the readers of all newspapers was a new departure, however. For 20 years no Soviet publication had published an honest comparison of the achievements of collectivized and pre-collectivized agriculture. Why was the failure emphasized? Both Malenkov and Khrushchev, of course, also drew comparisons between the failures of backward kolkhozes and regions and the achievements of certain others. All responsibility was put on the backward farms. Was this merely the usual Soviet method of inspiring subordinates? Or was it a preparation of excuses for non-fulfillment of promised abundance?
Various measures taken from 1946-1950 show the Soviet dissatisfaction with what was going on in this section of the economy. In February 1947, the government and the Communist Party resolved "on measures to raise agriculture in the postwar period," and Andreev, who was then responsible for the Communist drive for recovery in agriculture, presented a report revealing the depths to which production had fallen at the end of the war. In the autumn of 1948, a huge project for afforestation of the entire steppe zone in the European territory of the Union, affecting more than half of the country's total arable area, was proclaimed. This project, usually called "Stalin's Plan of Transformation of Nature," included also the plan for rapid introduction of new crop rotations to restore the fertility of the soil. That so vast a project was thought urgently necessary indicates that the government was aware not only of shortcomings of the peasants but also of the climate and soil of the country. It suggested that Soviet agriculture had, in fact, reached its natural frontiers in spite of the existence of vast undeveloped regions in northern European Russia and Asiatic Russia, and that further increase of agricultural production must be achieved mainly by raising yields per acre through application of intensive methods of farming. However, climatic conditions of the southern steppe zone make doubtful the success of intensive agriculture. Even if the project of afforestation of the steppe is eventually successful, it cannot produce an important effect on agricultural production in much less than 20 years.
In the spring of 1949, two years before the end of the plan, the government announced a new Three Year Plan (1949-1951) for development of livestock breeding in collective and state farms. Its statistics revealed an enormous reduction in the numbers of livestock held individually by members of collective farms, and thus showed that the drive to increase the numbers of livestock in collectivized herds was proceeding at their expense. Both Malenkov and Khrushchev confirmed this in their recent speeches. A decision of the plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party in September 1953 simply says that "many directors of collective farms and leaders of local administration and agricultural agencies, instead of organizing reproduction of livestock in collective herds, continued mass purchasing of livestock from kolkhozniki." It must be added that members of collective farms are not free to refuse offers of purchase extended by Soviet officials. Khrushchev said that the number of cows held privately has declined by 6,500,000 and that nearly half of the kolkhoznik families now have no cows. Both he and Malenkov admitted that this contradicts the policy of the Communist Party, and both promised to correct it. But this situation was widely known in 1949, and the practice had not been changed by 1953. Khrushchev's speech also reveals some reasons why: "some comrades believe that possession of livestock privately by kolkhozniki, even within the limits of their right according to the kolkhoz statute, represents a certain danger to the Socialist régime." He insisted that only persons who did not understand party policy could harbor such an idea. A good many comrades were evidently unclear about it.
Even with these "incorrect practices," however, the schedule for expanding kolkhoz herds during 1949-51 was not realized. The rates of growth actually declined, until finally in 1952 there came even an absolute decline in the number of cattle. The preamble to the three-year plan of development of livestock breeding, announced in 1949, indicated that the principal obstacle to growth in number and productivity of livestock was the unsatisfactory situation in fodder production. (Four years later, in 1953, both Malenkov and Khrushchev reiterated this.)
In 1950, just before the end of the plan-period, the government found it necessary to undertake two more major steps. Four big irrigation projects were dramatically announced, and a ruthless political drive for enlargement of collective farms was launched. The irrigation projects are supposed to add 15,000,000 acres of cultivable land, and to supply grazing area of 55,000,000 acres with water for grazing livestock. Most of these projects plan to use water from the Dnieper, Don and Volga rivers, and are thus outside the traditional area of irrigated farming. They are supposed to complement the big afforestation project launched in 1948, which may indicate that the Kremlin rulers are not confident of the early success of that project. In any event, both the afforestation and irrigation plans are long-range, and even if ultimately successful they cannot help Malenkov keep his promise to raise sharply the supply of foodstuffs and manufactured goods in two or three years. The greater accent on supplying water for grazing land only emphasizes the increasing difficulties facing the livestock enterprise.
The drive for enlargement of collective farms, launched in 1950, is a trustworthy clue to the deep dissatisfaction of the Soviet planners with the functioning of collectivized agriculture. It was undertaken without much fanfare. Several technical articles published in mid-1950 explain that it is prompted merely by technical requirements, such as the need for larger fields to permit efficient use of tractors and other machinery. Yet the drive for enlargement was not limited to the northern forest areas, where farms were really small, but extended to the southern steppe area, where existing farms were large enough for use of tractors. In two years the number of collective farms was reduced from more than 250,000 to less than 100,000.
Clearly, technical reasons were not the major factor in the drive. It was partly an expression of the mania for giant farms so much in vogue in the early period of state and collective farms, but the principal motive was probably the desire of the government to tighten control over collective farms through Machine-Tractor Stations. The program apparently roused much opposition among members of collective farms, who feared that in their resettlement to the new centers of large collective farms--so-called agro-cities--they would lose the last vestiges of the highly-cherished small plots of land around their farmsteads. Finally, the government postponed the resettlements and, at the Nineteenth Congress, Malenkov criticized the enthusiasts who wanted to tear down the old villages and build the agro-cities immediately. He advised the building of good stables and pigsties on the newly-enlarged farms, well aware that this task alone would keep the kolkhozes busy for several years. Khrushchev's speech of last September indicated that in some places the problem of providing buildings for livestock looms as important as the problem of fodder supply.
Whether or not prompted by technical considerations, the drive to enlarge farms brought to the foreground some real technical difficulties. The resurveying of lands and the plotting of new fields for crop rotations disrupted existing rotations. It seems altogether possible that the program may delay a badly-needed improvement of rotations for another decade. Unquestionably, the setback in the development of livestock breeding recently revealed by Khrushchev was also due in considerable degree to uncertainty and turmoil connected with the farm enlargement. The fact that the setback took place in 1952, before the death of Stalin, indicates that it was caused by previous measures that provoked dissatisfaction and suspicion on the part of the kolkhozniki, and not by the political uncertainty that followed Stalin's death.
In spite of all these important steps taken by the Kremlin during the first postwar plan for economic development, and in some cases, perhaps, because of them, practically all goals of the agricultural plan were missed by considerable margins. By contrast, as we have noted, the industrial plan was satisfactorily fulfilled, except for food and light industries which were handicapped by shortage of agricultural materials. Such a gap in performance between agriculture and heavy industry cannot have been intentional. It is possible that there was a decision in 1947 to accelerate the manufacture of armaments and, in connection with this, to expand heavy industry beyond the goals originally planned. But this could not have been done deliberately at the cost of agricultural production. It is clear that every effort was made to expand agriculture, at least to the original goal. If this was missed by a wide margin, it was because the leaders lacked not the will but the means to achieve it. The recent speeches of Malenkov and Khrushchev offer conclusive evidence that the lag has become even more serious than before.
The peculiarity of the agricultural plan for 1951-55 is that it set ambitious goals for total outputs of both vegetable and animal products--an increase of about 50 percent in gross agricultural production in five years--but at the same time scheduled little expansion of the cropped areas (except for fodder crops) and of livestock numbers. By far the largest part of the planned increase in crop production, therefore, must be achieved by a rapid rise in yields per acre, while a substantial part of the required increase in animal products must be reached by raising the productivity of animals.
Successful fulfillment of this plan requires great improvement in agricultural techniques, improvement of crop rotations by adjusting them carefully to the special conditions of each farm, a large increase in the application of fertilizers, improvement of seeds, more adequate feed supplies, and better care for animals, including the better buildings that, as we have noted, are so important under the severe climatic conditions of most of the Soviet Union. But the collective-farm system is very poorly adapted to intensive forms of agriculture. Its enormous maze of bureaucratic controls leaves no room for initiative among the farmers; and its obligatory deliveries of products to the state at low prices give the kolkhozniki little interest in increasing their output. To these brakes on production must be added the uncertainties generated by the drive to enlarge the collective farms which, at least temporarily, must have weakened rather than reinforced kolkhoz discipline.
It would be difficult to present a stronger criticism of some of the existing practices of the Soviet agricultural system than was contained in Khrushchev's September speech: the speech is required reading for anyone who wishes an authoritative explanation of the shortcomings of the collective farm. The only puzzling thing about it is how Khrushchev could hope to improve the system enough to fulfill Malenkov's promises of abundant food and other consumer goods in two or three years. Indeed, some of the goals of the plan would be difficult to fulfill even under an efficient organization of agriculture.
As examples of what Khrushchev is up against we may note the plan for increasing the acre-yields of grain nearly 40 percent in five years. Grain still occupies 70 percent of the total cropped area in Russia. In 1952, when the plan for 1951-55 was approved, the average yield of grain per acre stood practically the same as in 1950. That was a good year, and the total output of grain was the best since the end of the war. But that means that the increase of 40 percent must be reached in three rather than five years. So rapid an increase of yields has never been achieved even in countries with well-advanced agricultural techniques and heavy use of fertilizers, save when years with exceptionally good weather happen to follow years with exceptionally bad. And although in October 1952 Malenkov boasted to the Nineteenth Communist Congress that the grain problem was definitely solved in the Soviet Union, he was less exultant in August 1953 and said humbly: "We must assure further, more rapid growth of grain production, considering that it is necessary in our country not only for satisfaction of growing needs of population in bread, but also for raising of the level of livestock breeding and for supply of grain to the regions producing technical crops." Finally, it would seem, Malenkov came to understand that animal husbandry cannot be improved unless there is concentrated feed, and technical crops are not to be expanded at the cost of food crops unless farmers are supplied with necessary foodstuffs. This last relates particularly to the expansion of cotton growing on irrigated land in Central Asia, where in some regions cultivation of cotton became practically a monoculture, squeezing nearly all the cereals from the irrigated fields.
When Malenkov was obliged to tackle the thorny problem of supplying the rapidly growing urban population with ample quantities of meat, milk and textiles, he discovered that the grain problem was far from solved. It could not be solved so long as only one-third of the total grain area was given to feed grains (in the United States they occupy about two-thirds); and with grain comprising such a large proportion of the total cropped area badly needed crop rotations cannot be introduced.
Since achievement of the planned yields of grain in 1955 is impossible, the fulfillment of the goals for animal husbandry, as well as for some of the technical crops, also appears questionable. We know from Khrushchev that the numbers of cattle and cows at the beginning of 1953 were smaller than at the beginning of 1951, and that production of milk per cow was not higher than before the war and may have been lower. Here again, as with grain, it would be necessary to accomplish within three years more than was planned for five, and this with an insufficient supply of concentrated feedstuffs.
Enough of examples, which could be multiplied. Khrushchev told his fellow Communists that gross agricultural production in 1952 was only 10 percent larger than in 1940. The "Economic Survey of Europe in 1951," published by the Department of Economic Affairs of the United Nations,[ii] estimates on the basis of Soviet statistics that Soviet gross agricultural production in 1950 exceeded the prewar (1940) level by 7 percent. It follows from this that during the first two years of the plan-period, 1951-55, the gross agricultural production increased less than 3 percent. How, then, is it conceivably possible to raise it 50 percent by the end of 1955?
And yet the whole plan to increase production of consumer goods by 65 to 70 percent is tied closely to satisfactory fulfillment of this plan for agriculture. Malenkov knows this well. Speaking before the Supreme Soviet last August he said: ". . . in order to insure a drastic upsurge in the production of consumer goods we must first of all care for the further development and upsurge of agriculture, which supplies the population with food and the light industry with raw materials." Nevertheless, he gave assurance not only that the plan for enlarged production of consumer goods would be completed, but also that it would be done by 1954 instead of 1955. It is instructive to note some of the measures that he and Khrushchev proposed.
Does Malenkov intend to change basically the collective-farm system as he inherited it from Stalin? Does he deviate from the planned reorganization of the kolkhoz system as it was considered in Stalin's last work, "Economic Problems of Socialism in the U.S.S.R.," published just before the Nineteenth Congress? To both questions the answer is "no." Although Malenkov promises concessions to the collectives and even to their individual members, he does not make the kolkhoz system responsible for the failures of agriculture. He says that the "present-day level of agricultural production does not correspond to the increased technical equipment in agriculture and to the potentialities inherent in the collective-farm system." And he expects to obtain badly-needed improvements by a rapid development and strengthening of the communal economy of collective farms. Only in return for such a "strengthening" does he offer an increase in remuneration for working days to collective farmers. His concessions to the private economy of the kolkhozniki are of secondary importance and appear to be only temporary; he does not expect much from their private production.
In enumerating the principal decisions of the government and the Party directed to insuring the "rapid upsurge of agriculture," he mentions first of all measures for increasing the economic interest of collective farmers in the development of lagging branches of agriculture; among these he puts animal husbandry first, followed by potatoes and vegetable crops. This emphasis on economic interests of collective farmers is a new note; in his earlier report of October 1952 to the Nineteenth Congress he emphasized technical measures. It must be observed, however, that Pravda of January 28, 1953, spoke about the necessity of "raising the economic interest of kolkhozniki in increasing the number of livestock and its productivity." Hence this policy too had been formulated by the Communist Party before the death of Stalin, practically in identical terms.
From Khrushchev's speech we learn that in order to encourage lagging branches of agriculture it was decided to raise the prices for livestock delivered to the state five and a half times, for milk and butter twice, and for potatoes two and a half times; but for vegetables the increase was to be only 25 to 40 percent. He does not give absolute levels of prices and it is impossible to learn how high they became after these increases, which appear important in relative figures. However, in the same speech Khrushchev reveals that prices paid previously for obligatory deliveries of livestock products were so low that the remuneration of a kolkhoznik for a workday spent in animal husbandry averaged about one-fourth that for a workday spent in cultivation of technical crops. Malenkov regards this remuneration for work on technical crops as a sufficient economic stimulus for farmers. Apparently the increase in prices for livestock and its products will just about bring the rewards for work in this important branch of agriculture to the level of those for technical crops. It seems surprising that this was not done eight years ago, since the postwar restoration of animal husbandry was one of the most important problems for the Soviet Government.
Prices for grain have not been raised at all, though the obligatory delivery of grain at very low prices is the heaviest burden on the peasantry. The Kremlin rulers believe that peasants will produce grain anyway, since it is their principal foodstuff. In discussing price increases for potatoes and vegetables, Khrushchev explained that they were the very maximum that the government could accord without raising retail prices to consumers, which is excluded by the present policy of the party. Prices for animal products purchased by the state, after collective farms complete their obligatory deliveries, are raised much more modestly by 30 to 50 percent.
The policy of stimulating the private interests of collective farmers by raising prices is thus strictly limited to the most backward sectors of Soviet agriculture, insufficiently mechanized and requiring much hand labor. Some of them, particularly animal husbandry, never can gain advantages from mechanization comparable to those which are possible in the cultivation of grain or sugar beets.
Members of collective farms are promised a reduction in obligatory deliveries from their small private plots of land, and a reduction of about 50 percent in the tax levied upon them. If honestly fulfilled, these concessions may be important, but it must be said that the previous policy with regard to the private economy of the kolkhozniki resulted in such ruin that the base for improvement is weak. Khrushchev explained that restoration of animal husbandry in the private economy of members of collectives, as well as of increased cultivation of potatoes and vegetables in their gardens, will be helpful not only for them but also to the state. It is impossible to deny this, since these are the products which are now most scarce. Their sale in kolkhoz markets by individual farmers once contributed substantially to the food supplies of city dwellers.
The reader must be reminded that in 1934-35, Stalin was obliged to depend on the private economy of members of collectives to speed the recovery of animal husbandry ruined by forced collectivization. The present rulers apparently are not prepared to go even so far as Stalin in their concessions, since Khrushchev immediately reassured his fellow Communists that proposed measures for restoration of private animal husbandry by no means signified any lessening of attention to collectivized herds. He emphasized that "the main road to the solution of the livestock problem was and will remain the raising of collectivized animal husbandry."
In his efforts to obtain the "rapid upsurge of agriculture," Malenkov also plans to rely more on technical and organizational measures; that is, he intends to tighten state control over the newly enlarged collective farms through the Machine Tractor Stations. For this reason his efforts are directed toward strengthening the M.T.S., since he recognizes that most of them are working unsatisfactorily. Khrushchev supplied a good deal of information concerning this. Agriculture will receive 750,000 tractors (15 horsepower) during 1954-57. This apparently means a change in the plan for production of tractors, since the original goal was surprisingly modest--an increase in annual production of tractors in 1955 only 19 percent above that of 1950. (Producer goods were to be increased 80 percent.) The government also decided to increase the supply of mineral fertilizers for agriculture; but this is only a long-term objective--about 17,000,000 tons more in 1959 and up to 30,000,000 more in 1964. Khrushchev says that in 1953 agriculture received 6,000,000 tons or even less. Since it had been planned to increase production of mineral fertilizers from 5,000,000 to 9,500,000 tons during 1951-55, the program is obviously lagging badly now.
But the principal emphasis falls on reinforcement of the M.T.S. by improving the technical qualifications of directing personnel and by providing more skilled workers. Up to 7,000 mechanical engineers must be sent to the Tractor Stations and up to 100,000 agronomists and other technicians are to be assigned to them and to kolkhozes. Furthermore, the tractor drivers and mechanics who left the M.T.S. for jobs in urban industry because the remuneration there was higher must be returned to agriculture.
From Khrushchev's speech one gathers that there is an acute shortage of qualified workers in agriculture. Apparently the total labor force in agriculture now is substantially less than before the war. War losses tend to affect the rural population more than the city dwellers, and after the war the drain of population from farms to industry continued in Russia. The first postwar industrial plan could be completed successfully only because by 1950 employment in industry had increased about 25 percent over 1940, instead of 10 percent as expected. Malenkov said that the urban population of the U.S.S.R. has now reached 80,000,000, as against 60,000,000 before the war. All this indicates that there is a high proportion of women, old people and children trying to carry on the tasks of farming. And the scope of their tasks has been greatly enlarged: they must plant forest belts, build new farm buildings in the centers of the big, new farms, prepare the networks of irrigation canals in the fields and perform many other new tasks.
An indication of serious labor shortage in collective farms is provided by one of the stipulations of the new law on agricultural taxation. Its principal purpose was declared to be that of lightening the burden of taxation on the kolkhozniki and stimulating their production in such intensive branches of farming as animal husbandry and cultivation of fruit and vegetables. But, at the same time, it attempts to tighten the labor discipline on the farmers by imposing a tax 50 percent higher than normal on those families whose individual members fail to complete the required minimum of labor days in their collectives without a satisfactory excuse. Plainly the Communist rulers do not expect the promised price increases for agricultural products to stimulate the members to increase their work sufficiently, and are supplementing the carrot with a heavy stick.
Khrushchev thinks that there are also not enough qualified Communists in the countryside, and he suggests sending 50,000 of the most reliable Party members to reinforce commanding posts in every M.T.S. and kolkhoz. This recalls the years 1930 and 1932 when the Party dispatched 25,000 proved Communists to build collective farms, and later another 20,000 to take them more firmly in hand. Khrushchev's proposal does not promise much self-government on the farms. It certainly does not indicate a loosening of controls over agriculture. Despite the pleasure of some Western commentators at what they took to be a new kindliness on the part of Soviet bosses toward their working force, the controls are to be intensified.
This, indeed, is the principal means by which Malenkov expects to assure the "rapid upsurge of agriculture." The methods remain the old ones and the promises are not quite new: from 1935 on, Stalin not only promised a "merry and abundant life" to peasants, but pretended that they were really enjoying it already. And yet during the 25 years of collectivized agriculture the gross agricultural production increased only some 25 to 30 percent over 1928. Now Malenkov would have the Russian people, and the rest of the world, believe he thinks it possible to raise production nearly 50 percent in two or three years.
A limited increase in gross agricultural production, say less than half of the original plan, may take place in the two remaining years. The promised increases in prices will be most helpful in this respect. A rapid increase in the number of tractors and other machines, and, particularly, in the supplies of mineral fertilizers available for agriculture, also may help greatly; and the last would be within the grasp of the Kremlin if a strong shift in this direction were made at the expense of production of tanks and explosives. But time is decidedly short for achieving the goals set for agricultural production by the Fifth Plan. We may conclude that the goals set for consumer goods likewise cannot be reached, either in 1954 as Malenkov promises, or in 1955 as originally planned. Malenkov could fulfill his promise only by turning to the capitalist world for necessary raw materials and foodstuffs.
[i] G. Drampyan, Planovoe Khoziaistvo, Moscow, N2, 1953, p. 35.
[ii] Geneva, 1952, Table 61, p. 134.