[MUSIC]. I come to the Soviet Union and its history principally as an economic historian. So introducing the topic and giving you some background to the Soviet Union under Stalin, I hope you will forgive me if I take this particular perspective. if you take the Soviet Union of the 1920s, first thing we need to bear in mind is that Joseph Stalin, Stalin being a pseudonym meaning man of steel. we will drop in my attempt to pronounce his proper name at another time but it'll come out gobbledegook if I do it now. Now more practically we have another of lieutenants at Lenin's side. Coming out of the Bolshevik Revolution from 1917 through to 1924, and, if you like, the succession following Lenin's death, it wasn't obviously that Stalin would be the successor. And to a certain degree Stalin took the period from 1924 through to about 1928 to consolidate his position. Now in political terms we are looking at minimizing criticism putting to the margins those people who are most likely to challenge Stalin and his particular perspective. By 1928 Stalin's position of power had been largely consolidated. And I tend to take that in the way that he moved from the new economic policy. The compromise that Lenin had accepted in 1921 to allow a degree of capitalism to operate under the control or the direction of state ownership. Now by 1928 we effectively have Gosplan the planning unit of the Soviet Union. a unit which operates all the way through to the collapse of the USSR in 1991. Stalin was confident that in the context of moving the Soviet Union towards a fuller definition of socialism, and greater state control without wishing to be [UNKNOWN] about this you know, following Marxist lines of owning or controlling the means of production. That the Soviet Union could a, move away from the new economic policy and the State could take much greater control of what was happening within the production envelope. So to speak of industry and agriculture as a whole. But it also, they could start applying techniques to forcibly industrialize the Soviet Union. the USSR, the Russia, and before, Russian Empire before 1917 wasn't, quotes, backwards unquotes. But it was known as the grain basket of Europe, and therefore relatively speaking at a not industrialized to the same degree as Germany or Britain or even France and Italy. Now, in the threat of potential western conflicts and an attempt to restore the Tsar. There was a concern in the Soviet Union that they weren't as well equipped or as prepared militarily to repel another another front so to speak, another war. In truth in the 1920s, very few of the western powers had any stomach for a further war. there was some adventurism by Winston Churchill trying to promote support for anti Leninist, anti-Stalinist forces but that really came to naught. More practically the legacy of the first World War had put everyone in a position of reflecting on the nature of war and the destruction that followed because the First World War was mechanical destruction on a scale not seen before. So to a certain degree the Soviet Union had some breathing space. Now, Stalin, from 1928 on-wards, decided that that breathing space was going to be used up unless they acted fairly swiftly in a concerted way. That involved the first of the notorious five year plans. The idea that the Soviet Union would lurch somewhere into the 20th Century with this industrialization following plans and production. And the generation of an industrial infrastructure, which was largely lacking at the time of the revolution itself. So as we consider this, and now as we sort of move this forward, what we have is a central dictates, a series of central dictates which led to targets for factory owners being put in place. Now Mark Harrison from Warwick University who's probably the leading economic historian of the Soviet Union posed the question. if you take away the profit incentive, if you actually apply a broad Marxist perspective on, central commitment to the state and therefore workers, looking to contribute towards develop in a, development in a much wider canvas. How do you motivate them with the profit motive being moved to a lower rung, and in some cases, eliminated. Now, it's not a, a difficult argument to put forward, but Mark Harrison has consistently argued and put an economic framework to this. That in fact, what replaces, monetary profit is coercion. And therefore what starts developing from 1928 is particularly a strong desire to make the, the workers, quote, fear for their lives at times, when it comes to their jobs. Mark Harrison considered how the Soviet Union motivated its workers. And considered the alternatives that were available to it given the state control of manufacturing, set wages, set prices largely removed the, profit motive. Or the money, or the desire for money that we actually see in the west. Now, Mark Harrison is probably our leading economic historian, Professor of Economics at Warwick University. And he's argued reasonably persuasively that the key factor pushing industrialization forwards was coercion. You take away profit motive, look into gain money through economic activity, you replace it with fear. And Harrison's arguments that the Soviet system of central planning worked, worked inefficiently, it worked inefficiently compared to the Capitalist West, but worked nonetheless. He particularly argues that if the system was going to collapse, it wasn't in 1991. It would have been in 1941, the beginning of the great patriotic war, and Hitler's movement into annexing the fertile and productive lands west of the Euros. in the case of direct invasion, in terms of moving productive capacity destroying, pro, productive capacity if the central planning system was going to implode, it would've been then. Most rational people would argue that the loss of life during the 1930s was unjustifiable to meet the ends of Soviet industrialization. One of the more caustic comments about the entire process of change, is that, by the 1980s, the Soviet Union had an industrial base that looked like that of Germany in the 1880s. A little more modernized but still fundamentally behind the way that the West had developed in the same line/g. Now, that is, a very grim way of looking at it. those people who were put under pressure to succeed, to achieve the goals, the five year plans. What you've got to bear in mind is the five year plans were subject to periodic review. I think it's fair to say that you didn't actually have a five year plan completed before the next five year plan is put in place. And such was the nature of resource allocation in the Soviet Union. What you found was people were targeted, factory operators and managers were targeted on units of production, as opposed to value of production. Now that's a minor point. But it, it, it does involve the use of human labor in a way that you might not otherwise have, have thought of. considering that, that the goals needed to be pushed through quite strongly, and, and forcefully during the time of each year's component of the plan. Now, were matters to rest in these terms, it would be bad enough. But Stalin's growing paranoia about being challenged. And his cultivation of a cult of personality. Something cliche now saw him systematically remove all those who could challenge him or would challenge him. 1937, 1938 saw the Great Terror, the movement of Stalin against those who were likely to challenge. His rules and his methods of controlling the Soviet Union. Now this way of thinking about this, that perhaps in the society it's the most creative, those with the best brains who will be critical. who will be looking to improve or challenge the existing status quo. If you are going to remove that category of individuals, then you have an issue about how a society is going to develop. If you are removing the farmers from collectivization in terms of the leadership, if you are removing those who are thinking in a different direction as a challenge or as an alternative to the way that Stalin's rule is conducted. Because they are thinking in a different way, then you are losing opportunity. And the quality of leadership and management within the society is likely to drop as well. So, as well as the loss of human life, which is tragic, you also have the issue about the dilution of the human capital within Soviet society, whether it be leadership, scientific, farming, education, for those people who voiced an opinion away from. What Stalin decreed was appropriate, may find themselves in the Gulag, if they're lucky. Most of them found themselves dead. Now I mentioned that the, estimates run between 10 and 30 million. Most contemporaries would argue that we should be trending towards the lower end of those figures, but that's still a tragedy. If you want to think about the commitment of the Soviet Union under Stalin let's consider the eastern front. the BBC, when it came to the millennium review of the 20th century. when they ask what was the war of the century, say it's the eastern front, it's the war between Germany and the Soviet Union, 1931 to 1945.