Union of Soviet Socialist Republics: The First Five-Year Plan
The First Five-Year Plan
At home the New Economic Policy instituted in 1921 was replaced by full government planning with the adoption of the first Five-Year Plan (1928–32). The plan was drawn up by Gosplan (the state planning commission), setting goals and priorities for virtually the entire economy and emphasizing the production of capital and not consumer goods. A system of collective and state farms was imposed over widespread peasant opposition, which was expressed notably in the slaughter of livestock. Those comparatively prosperous peasants (called kulaks) who refused to join the new agricultural institutions were “liquidated” by drastic means. More than 5 million peasant households were eliminated, their property was confiscated, and most of the peasants were sent as forced laborers to Siberia. This also led to famine in 1932–33. By the end of the 1930s, 99% of the cultivated land was in collective farms (the system of state farms was established successfully only after World War II). Industrialization was accelerated, and the production of desperately needed industrial raw materials and capital equipment was stressed at the expense of consumer goods. One of the major results of the successive Five-Year Plans was the spectacular industrial and agricultural development of the Urals, Siberian USSR, and Central Asian USSR.
The level of literacy, very low in 1917, was steadily raised in all parts of the country, and free medical and social services were extended to the population. At the same time, the state (and behind it, the CPSU) increased its hold over all political, social, and cultural aspects of life. Education and media of public information passed under state control. Freedom of movement was severely restricted. All criticism of public policy, if not authorized by the state, was banned. The secret police became a major instrument of state control, and much power was given to the civil service. The system of controls gave rise to a large and powerful bureaucracy, called the “new class” by some analysts.
Religious bodies were severely persecuted in the early years of the Soviet Union, but in the mid-1930s there was a measure of relaxation in official policy, probably because antireligious propaganda in the schools had already taken effect among the younger generation. However, relations with the Roman Catholic Church and with the Jewish community remained hostile. Relations were also strained with the West Ukrainian Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Sections in this article:
- Dissolution of the Union
- Glasnost and Perestroika
- The Gorbachev Era
- Détente Ends
- The Era of Détente
- Foreign Relations under Brezhnev
- Domestic Policy under Brezhnev
- The Brezhnev Era
- The Cuban Missile Crisis
- Foreign Relations under Khrushchev
- Domestic Policy under Khrushchev
- The Khrushchev Era
- The Cold War
- World War II
- Pre–World War II Foreign Relations
- Conservatism and Purges
- The First Five-Year Plan
- The Stalin Era
- Early Years
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: CIS and Baltic Political Geography