Top point at the list of every economy in the period after the First World War was the development and improvement of their shattered economies. This held true for the Soviet Union. In a country with enough natural resources and labor, it was important for the then leader of the Soviet, Joseph Stalin, to prompt the participation of citizens in the industrialization process. This essay discusses Stalin’s reasons of the importance for the Soviet Union to develop rapidly and the results of the plans he set in order to achieve this aim.
According to Stalin, it was of utmost significance that the Soviet Union industrialized in the shortest time possible for several reasons. In fact, in his works, Stalin emphasized the value of fulfilling pledges in order to fulfill the five-year development plan in three years within the crucial sectors in the industry (Stalin 519). The Soviet leader felt that swift industrialization of the Union was imperative, as an obligation that the U.S.S.R had to the working class, both at home and in the international community (Stalin 527). He maintained that backwardness got the country ‘beaten’. This was true at the time, owing to the fact that even though capitalist countries surrounded it, the U.S.S.R. stayed a communist nation. In order to uphold independence, he felt that the Soviet had to gain prominence in terms of development, and even surpass the advanced capitalist nations (Stalin 529).
Stalin’s policy, though seemingly impossible to go by in the first instance, was productive. Industry, agriculture, employment, and trade sectors all experienced tremendous growth. For example, output in the agriculture rose from forty eight to seventy percent. Secondly, the Soviet ranked first in the output of coal and oil at the end of the five-year plan. In addition, they abolished unemployment completely, and along with it, poverty. Of all this, in a report detailing the results of the five year plan, Stalin indicated that their achievements exceeded the anticipated level (Stalin 594).
Though the plan met with a lot of skepticism from the international community at the instigation, the results were in the end impressive. It was common for publications in other countries to use words like ‘a gamble’, and ‘ghastly failure’ in describing the plan when it kicked off (Stalin 581-582). However, at the end there was prevalent admiration for the communist society as the five-year plan took form. In 1932, Gibson Jarvie, the United Dominion Trust president applauded Russia’s development plan and added that the high level of industrialization gave the future generations hope that lacked in capitalist countries (Stalin 584).
On Stalin’s death, Khrushchev had to delineate himself from the former. In a secret speech, Khrushchev highlighted the crimes committed during the Stalin regime. One of the crimes he claimed Stalin was using fear against his opponents. He accused Stalin of eliminating those around him who posed a threat to his power and authority. Another major crime that Khrushchev uncovered was Stalin’s arbitrary dismissal of numerous military leaders and politicians. This, he added, largely contributed to the Soviet Union’s defeat during the Second World War, alongside surrounding himself with people who had pernicious loyalty to him (Curtis 1996). In summary, he claimed that it was after Stalin had purged the party and military of those he deemed unfaithful, that all the rest of his decisions and actions were wrong.
Mikhail Gorbachev discussed his thoughts on the end of communism in Europe. According to him, the fall of the communist regime was inevitable. The rise in an era when people embraced reforms ensured this. Gorbachev pointed out that the Russian people were anxious to have a new congress. This manifested itself in the result of the elections that showed the defeat of many Communist Party Secretaries (Heuvel and Cohen 2009). There was a wave of democracy throughout Europe; people spoke up on the kind of government they wanted. This led to the fall in the Communist regime. The lack of violence that clearly marked the end of communism was the symbol of a society that had grown to embrace change. It shows a period when the opinions of the citizens were more valuable than the government. This was the opposed fact to previous times when the people feared to speak up for fear of facing the wrath of the leaders.
Herbert Marcuse in his essay “ Aggressiveness in Advanced Industrial Society” discusses the effects of technological advancement in the society. Marcuse argues that a high degree of technology implies increased aggression in society. This is because a growth in technology rules out the use of human labor, leaving people with the high energy. According to him, it is possible to translate the aggression into either positive or negative results. For example, it can turn either into a destructive force – one that claims human lives- or into libido – a force that ameliorates human existence. He adds that for peaceful existence society has to find the balance between the destructive and constructive energy. It is impossible for society to thrive without any aggression (Marcuse 1967).
The theory put forward by Marcuse is highly flawed. By maintaining that technology advances aggression Marcuse overlooks other factors in society. How, for example, does he quantify the effect that new technology such as nuclear warfare has on human existence? This invention, according to Marcuse, should find a balance between increasing negative and positive aggression. However, it is common knowledge that nuclear warfare only increases negative aggression and the urge for destruction. Therefore, even though it has its basis on facts that are worth noting, Marcuse should revise his theory to eliminate the generalizations that undermine its application.
Michel Harrington outlines his involvement with the new left movement in his work Sociology: Past and Future. In his writing, Harrington challenged the values held dear by those in the labor movement and the whole idea that acts as a base for the Marxism and the class struggle. The New Left Movement, a movement that Harrington was deeply involved in, consisted of a variety of activists. These people drew attention to the marginalized in the community. Their radical ways got them marked as ‘hippies’ in the U.S.A as they advocated complete liberalization of individuals politically and spiritually (Harrington 113). The New Left Movement fought for and advocated for causes such as detoxification of the environment and the rights of laborers. It drew motivation from other radical groups such as the Black Power Movement.
Despite fighting for the rights of many marginalized groups, the New Left Movement in the U.S.A, for example, eventually disintegrated (Harrington 115). Some of the members of the group became too violent in pushing forward their causes. An instance of this is three members ended up blowing themselves up in an attempt to build a bomb that would aid their social transformation revolution. In summary, even though the New Left Movement based its actions on fighting for the rights of the marginalized population, some of the methods they applied were flawed. Violence and disagreements gradually fuelled fragmentation in the group.