Question by Immie x: How was russia changed by stalin’s economic policies?
Also if you can: What were the results of the changes made – were Stalin’s economic changes a success or failure?
Answer by Spellbound
The Five Year Plans utterly transformed the USSR, from a rural / peasant based country, to an urban industrialised one.
The first FYPs were an ideological response to the previous policy of NEP. NEP allowed small businesses to operate and was creating a middle class. The Communists were never happy with this policy as Marx stated that communism could only happen when the workers owned the means of production. The FYPs, as the state was a “workers state” saw the workers – i.e. the state own all the means of production. This changed the country from having private enterprise (albeit at a small level) as the main economic driving force, to having the state – and its planning arm – Gosplan as the main driving force.
Positives: Transformed the country – much of the country was electrified, huge civil engineering works and massive new factories brought change in the way that people worked. Agriculture was transformed from an inefficient peasant based and labour intensive activity to an inefficient, worker (collective farm workers received wages) based and more mechanised activity. It also solidified the gains of the revolution – the revolutionary elite can, after the first FYP really be called the political class. This means they can start to act like a political elite – not like an underground movement.
Negatives: The kulaks – richer peasants – were deported to Siberia and the Kazakh steppe. This ideological decision rooted out the most efficient, often the most educated and the most entrepreneurial farmers and destroyed them.
The civil engineering works were completed with little regard to quality – the Belomor canal, dug at huge cost in human life (prisoners, both criminal and political were used to dig it) but it was not deep enough for the ocean going ships it was designed for.
Stalin used the political turmoil following Lenin’s death and the to isolate, eliminate and to, on occasion, to execute his rivals. The political elite lived lives of fear – fear that a misplaced word or an ill-conceived look could lead to a knock on the door in the middle of the night.
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