Five-year plans for the national economy of the Soviet Union

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The five-year plans for the development of the national economy of the Soviet Union (USSR) (Russian: Пятиле́тние пла́ны разви́тия наро́дного хозя́йства СССР, Pjatiletnije plany razvitiya narodnogo khozyaystva SSSR) consisted of a series of nationwide centralized economic plans in the Soviet Union, beginning in the late 1920s. The Soviet state planning committee Gosplan developed these plans based on the theory of the productive forces that formed part of the ideology of the Communist Party for development of the Soviet economy. Fulfilling the current plan became the watchword of Soviet bureaucracy (see Overview of the Soviet economic planning process).

Most other communist states, including the People's Republic of China, adopted a similar method of planning. Nazi Germany emulated the practice in its four-year plan (1936-1939) designed by the NSDAP to bring Germany to war-readiness. Although the Republic of Indonesia under Suharto is known for its anti-communist purge, his government also adopted the same method of planning. This series of five-year plans in Indonesia was termed REPELITA (Rencana Pembangunan Lima Tahun); plans I to VI ran from 1969 to 1998.

Several Soviet five-year plans did not take up the full period of time assigned to them: some were pronounced successfully completed earlier than expected, while others failed and were abandoned. Altogether, Gosplan launched thirteen five-year plans. The initial five-year plans aimed to achieve rapid industrialization of the Soviet Union and thus placed a major focus on heavy industry. The first one, accepted in 1928 for the period from 1929 to 1933, finished one year early. The last five-year plan, for the period from 1991 to 1995, was not completed, since the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991.

Joseph Stalin inherited and upheld the New Economic Policy (NEP) from Vladimir Lenin. In 1921, Lenin had persuaded the 10th Party Congress to approve the NEP as a replacement for the War Communism that had been set up during the Russian Civil War. In War Communism, the state had assumed control of all means of production, exchange and communication. All land had been declared nationalized by the Decree on Land, finalized in the 1922 Land Code, which also set collectivization as the long-term goal. Although the peasants had been allowed to work the land they held, the production surplus was bought by the state (on the state's terms), the peasants cut production; whereupon food was requisitioned. Money gradually came to be replaced by barter and a system of coupons.

The NEP took over from the failed attempts of War Communism. During this time, the state had controlled all large enterprises (i.e. factories, mines, railways) as well as enterprises of medium size, but small private enterprises, employing fewer than 20 people, were allowed. The requisitioning of farm produce was replaced by a tax system (a fixed proportion of the crop), and the peasants were free to sell their surplus (at a state-regulated price) - although they were encouraged to join state farms (Sovkhozes, set up on land expropriated from nobles after the 1917 revolution), in which they worked for a fixed wage like workers in a factory. Money came back into use, with new bank notes being issued and backed by gold.

The NEP had been Lenin's response to a crisis. In 1920, industrial production had been 13% and agricultural production 20% of the 1913 figures. Between February 21 and March 17, 1921, the sailors in Kronstadt had mutinied. In addition, the Russian Civil War, which had been the main reason for the introduction of War Communism, had virtually been won; and so controls could be relaxed.

This page was last edited on 12 March 2018, at 18:18.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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