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Do you agree that the Five-Year Plans made the Soviet Union economically powerful in the 1930s?

Explain your answer.


I agree that the Five-Year Plans made the Soviet Union economically powerful in the 1930s. Three factors which were part of the FYP that contributed to the development of Soviet Unions economy are the decrease in unemployment, avoiding the Great Depression and the industrialization of the Soviet Union. However, I disagree to a smaller extent as the quality of the goods produced were very poor. Firstly, the Five-Year Plans allowed USSR to avoid the Great Depression. The FYP made USSR an autarky. Hence, being self-sufficient, it did not rely on trade with other countries. Therefore, when almost the whole world was badly affected by the Great Depression in the 1930s, USSR was able to avoid the economic downturn caused by it. Hence, it remained economically powerful through the 1930s, having removed itself from the world trading systems. Therefore, through the proposition of an autarky in the USSR, it avoided the negative effects of the Great Depression in the 1930s, hence, allowing it to be economically powerful in the 1930s. Secondly, the Five Year-Plans brought about rapid industrialization in the USSR hence, making it economically powerful in the 1930s. The first FYP from 1928 to 1932 concentrated on expanding heavy industries especially steel and iron, and electricity, chemicals and engineering. Output was to be doubled un five years. Though the high targets were not met, there was a great increase in the amount of coal, iron, steel and oil produced. More than 1500 factories and more than 100 new cities were built. The second plan from 1933 to 1938 focused on more manufactured goods, in addition to the first plan. The second plan increased the production of industrial goods plus making regularly needed products such as clothes, and provided a path for fundamental infrastructure. Yet, when the rumor about another war reached USSR, there was a greater focus on military production. Hence, factories were built to the East of the Ural Mountains, where they would be beyond the reach of Western invaders. Transport and communication networks also improved greatly to allow the Soviet Army to move quickly in the event of a war. The third FYP which began from 1939 (but was interrupted by the outbreak of war), concentrated on the production of luxuries such as bicycles and radios. With the three Five-Year Plans, there was rapid expansion of the Soviet Unions heavy industries. The production of consumer goods increased as well. The FYP transformed the primitiveness of the country, creating a massive urban working class and trebling electricity production. USSRs economic standing in relation to other countries such as USA improved. Hence, in this way of rapid industrialization, the Five-Year Plans made the Soviet Union economically powerful in the 1930s. Thirdly, the Five-Year Plans brought about a decrease in unemployment, hence making USSR economically powerful in the 1930s. Through the FYP, new industries were built and hence, new jobs were created. For instance, through the first FYP from 1928 to 1932, more than 1500 factories and more than 100 new cities were built. Other than the fact that the construction of these new factories and cities provided jobs for the unemployed, people were also given jobs to work in the factories itself. The construction of transport and communication networks required manual labor as well, which provided more employment for the people in USSR. The increase in jobs created helped the economy of USSR as there was a greater output of goods produced in the industries. Also, the government offered salaries based on how much the worker produced, hence, the increased number of workers worked hard to produce as many goods as possible, thus, increasing the number of goods produced. In this way, the Five-Year Plans made the Soviet Union economically powerful in the 1930s. However, the Five-Year Plans also created problems as the rapid production of goods led to the poor quality of goods. Since workers were constantly encouraged to work extremely very hard to reach beyond their everyday targets, in order to receive higher salaries, the workers seemed to neglect the quality of the goods that they produced. For example, the great Belomor Canal built to take ships from the White Sea to the Gulf of Finland was built to a depth of only 13 which was far too shallow for shipping. This shows how the blind encouragement by the government led to negative impacts on the economy. Hence, I disagree that the Five-Year Plans made the Soviet Union economically powerful in the 1930s.

In conclusion, I agree largely that the Five-Year Plans made the Soviet Union economically powerful in the 1930s from only looking at the quantity of goods produced. However, I disagree that the FYP made the USSR economically powerful in the 1930s from looking at the quality of the goods produced.