Caleb Maupin and Harpal Brar: Industrialising the USSR

The Bolshevik party’s planned socialist development brought a backward nation from the ashes of a devastating civil war to victory over fascism in 1945.

“There can be no question of rehabilitating the national economy or of communism unless Russia is put on a different and a higher technical basis than that which has existed up to now. Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country, since industry cannot be developed without electrification.”
– VI Lenin, 1920

“We are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this distance in ten years. Either we do it, or we shall go under.”
– Josef Stalin, 1931


Tune in to the fifth of our regular series of discussions between Comrade Harpal Brar and US Marxist Caleb Maupin.

This week, Harpal and Caleb discuss the economic achievements of the Soviet Union. The huge and rapid advances of the planned economy were known around the world at the time – as a beacon to the developing world, and a threat to the imperialist nations.

Why did Soviet industrialisation begin when it did? What differences existed between Stalin and Trotsky on the matter? How did socialist emulation drive a vigorous economy in the absence of market regulation? Why was there such an emphasis on the building of heavy industry in the first five-year plan?

These questions, as well as the ongoing call for socialist planning and workers’ ownership of the means of production, are dealt with by comrades Harpal and Caleb.

This conversation was recorded on 7 April 2022. It was hosted by Joti Brar.