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RUSSIA: Stalin Midway

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All Russia and all the capitalist world, too, heard the voice of STALIN fortnight ago ordering alterations in Communism’s course (TIME. July 13). Last week the Soviet ship of state trimmed sheets and shifted helm, did its best to make the suggestions of Skipper Josef Stalin law. Editors in foreign countries commenting on the speed with which any hints from Steel Man Stalin are acted on, remembered last week that practically every detail of what is already known as Stalin’s New Policy (restoration of unequal wages, making peace with bourgeois technicians, etc., etc.) has long been advocated by Moscow editors.

Recognizing that the failure of the Donetz basin coal mines to live up to scheduled production was one of the chief weaknesses of the Five-Year Plan, a decree was issued last week putting into effect the Stalin suggestions and the similar recommendations of U. S. Mining Engineer Charles E. Stuart. Half the mines in the region must be mechanized by the end of the year. Workers are to be paid according to their skill with bonuses for good work. Direction of the mines is to be taken from workers’ committees and given to individually responsible managers. To better miners’ living conditions food lines must be abolished immediately, delivery of fuel and water must be speeded up. Construction of standard dwellings for 250,000 men. ordered years ago but never built, must be begun immediately.

In industrial plants all over Russia mass meetings were held last week to discuss the Stalin plan, arrange for the new wage scale and a resumption of the six-day week (with a common holiday). Telegrams of congratulations and loyalty were sent to VOZHD (The Chief). Not a few factories went further, sent long public confessions of their shortcomings with earnest promises to do better.

To call public attention to the new policy of conciliating the technical experts of the old regime who have been persecuted for so many years as “bourgeois intellectuals,” the Central Executive Committee issued decrees of clemency to five Damagers, bourgeois engineers who had been convicted of sabotage, gave them cash prizes of $5,000 to $500, restored them to full citizenship “for having repented of their former sins and shown their repentance by a year’s conscientious work.”

In British and U. S. papers the new

Stalin Plan, with its reversion to capitalist methods, was hailed by editors as a step in the breakdown of Communism. Steel Man Stalin had his propagandists out in force last week to deny this imputation. In London, chief Stalin interpreter was none other than Nicolai Ivanovich Bukharin. Two years ago Bukharin, a member of the Politburo, horse-faced Alexey Ivanovich Rykov, and Michael Tomsky called down the Steel Man’s wrath as members of the “right heretics” who refused to cooperate whole heartedly in the Five-Year Plan. Last week found a chastened, subdued Nicolai Bukharin in London stroking a red beard, humbly explaining the new policies of VOZHD to British newshawks. Said he:

“I am simply amazed that a section of the public continues to believe the balderdash of such things as the smash up of the Five-Year Plan, and it is amusing to note that invariably the Press which insists that the Five-Year Plan has collapsed is continually denouncing what it calls a Soviet campaign to flood the world with commodities. . . .

“All projects for planning under capitalism are attempts to invent wooden iron or dry water. Propaganda for return of the pre-machine modes of production is equivalent to preaching that man should do away with clothes, grow hair all over his body and betake himself to the forests. . . . The true way out is not by way of a return to old forms but by going to forms higher than capitalism.”

Added the dean of U. S. correspondents in Russia, Walter Duranty, on vacation last week in Paris:

“That the rewards of labor be given according to competence and capacity is not new in the Soviet State, and your correspondent has repeatedly emphasized the fact that Stalinism aims at using capitalist weapons to achieve collective or Socialist results. It would be the gravest error if the midway period of the Five-Year Plan . . . should be identified in the foreign mind with anything like a retreat or recantation on the part of the Bolshevist leader.”

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