The popular Stakhanov movement, which has involved the entire land of the Soviets, and has created new and unlimited possibilities for the victorious construction of socialism, is up to the present a movement receiving much attention in the foreign press. Whereas in the hands of the revolutionary proletariat the spreading of the truth about the Stakhanov movement is a powerful means of popularizing the ideas of socialism among the masses, the enemies of the Soviet Union are persistent in attempting to bespatter the Stakhanov movement and to give the toilers of the capitalist countries an incorrect, false idea about it.
The Communists in the various countries are in great need of mass literature about the Stakhanov movement, such as would help the active members of the Communist Party and rank-and-file workers to get their bearings as to the essence of this movement, and of the basic problems of socialist construction connected with it, and which would arm them with arguments to counteract the slander of the anti-Soviet press.
The speech of Comrade Stalin at the All-Union Conference of Stakhanov workers, published as a pamphlet in German, English, French, Spanish, Italian, Danish and Norwegian languages at the end of 1935 and the beginning of 1936, is of great significance for the world Communist movement. But up to the present time a shortage has been felt of literature written or drawn up especially for readers in the capitalist countries. Only a comparatively short time ago were a few such pamphlets published in various countries.
A Symposium, "New Times – New People"*
* Neue Zeiten – Neue Menschen. Die Stachanov-Bewegung im Lande der befreien Arbeit. Prometheus Verlag, Strassburg. 1936.
In this small symposium, published by the Prometheus publishing house in the German language, all the basic materials – partly abridged – of the All-Union Conference of the Stakhanov workers is published, including the complete text of the report of Comrade Stalin, excerpts from the reports of Comrades Molotov, Orjonikidze, Voroshilov, Kaganovich and Mikoyan and the speeches of twenty Stakhanov workers who took part in the Conference.
The speeches of the leaders of the All-Union Communist Party and the Soviet government as printed in this symposium will make it possible for the foreign reader to understand the meaning and significance of the Stakhanov movement
The Conference of Stakhanov Workers, at which the leaders of the country met for a businesslike and friendly talk with 8,000 leading working men and women, and at which Stalin thanked the Stakhanov workers "for lessons learnt" bore striking testimony to the fact of the broad character of Soviet democracy, and the close connections between the Soviet people and their leaders. This collection of the materials of the Conference of Stakhanov Workers, in the German language, will give the toilers in the capitalist countries a convincing and graphic refutation of the fascist slander to the effect that the Stakhanov movement in the U.S.S.R. is being developed "from above" "under pressure".
The speeches of the Stakhanov workers, who told in simple and warm words the story of their life and work, give a clear picture of the conditions of the proletariat in the U.S.S.R. where “...life has become better, life has become more joyous", and before whom are open endlessly broad perspectives of further mastering the heights of culture and technique, and of further creative work. The collection is not free of various shortcomings. For instance, the translation of the speeches of the Stakhanov workers is in places polished, and this smooths out the individual peculiarities of these speeches, which are distinguished by their great simplicity and directness of tone; in other places, on the contrary, the striving to give a too exact translation has led to the literal reproduction of Russian manners of speech which are not characteristic of the German language. In some places explanatory remarks should be given, taking into consideration the point that not every foreign reader can understand a number of details concerning production and living conditions in the U.S.S.R.
Nevertheless, the appearance of this symposium must be welcomed in every way. Let us hope that it will appear in other foreign languages.
This pamphlet of Comrade Pierre Semard, the well-known French Communist and trade union worker, on the U.S.S.R. and the Stakhanov movement, is his report at the Eighth Congress of the Communist Party of France. It will be read with great interest first and foremost by the leading Party workers; it is full of facts and figures about the victories of socialist construction in the U.S.S.R., on the growth of socialist industry and the rise in the well-being of the masses. This wealth of material makes it an irreplaceable aid to Party reporters and propagandists.
In the second part of the pamphlet Comrade Semard explains what the Stakhanov movement is, particularly emphasizing its significance in preparing the preconditions for the transition from socialism to communism.
In conclusion, he gives a convincing answer to those "theoreticians" from the Peuple and Populaire who make a dishonest analogy between the Stakhanov movement and capitalist rationalization.
"In the capitalist countries," he says, "Taylorism has made a gulf between physical and mental labor, and put up barriers between the workers of various qualifications. In the Soviet Union everything which is scientific and progressive as regards the improvement of the conditions of labor is taken from Taylorism, and everything that destroys the organism and lowers human self-respect is removed from it.
"The Soviet Union has made a study of the forms of rationalization tested and applied in the capitalist countries, and made a selection from among them, but they are used in the Soviet industry only after account has been taken of the research made by technicians, physiologists and doctors."
And Comrade Semard supports this answer with many figures as to the growth of workers' inventions, and all the new manifestations of the productive initiative of the workers in the U.S.S.R. – the only country where labor is a thing of honor, glory, valor and heroism.
Fernand Grenier, "The Stakhanov Movement" *
Fernand Grenier, General Secretary of the French Society of Friends of the U.S.S.R., introduces with his pamphlet on the Stakhanov movement a series of pamphlets under the general title of "Here Is the U.S.S.R.", to be published in the near future and devoted to various sides of the life of the people of the U.S.S.R.
After explaining very briefly the basis on which the Stakhanov movement was born and has developed in the U.S.S.R., and using as his most characteristic example the life and work of Stakhanov himself. Comrade Grenier goes in detail into the basic arguments advanced up till now against the Stakhanov movement. He brings the testimony of French textile workers who indignantly reject the idea that the labor of the Stakhanov workers can have anything in common with the labor of workers in rationalized capitalist enterprises.
"We undoubtedly can achieve professional skill," write the workers John Ober and Susan Cashe, "but we only work with our body, our muscles.... In the weaving sheds in our country, and in general among the textile workers it is possible to meet quite a number of working men and women who have very flexible hands, but who can neither read nor write.... The working women know how to make the cloth, they know what movements need to be made (just as automatic as the movement of their machines) but in the great majority they have no idea of the technique of weaving.
"Can one imagine, for instance, old mother Cashe and her mates, weavers, running madly in the evening to 'courses for mastering technique'? Why? To master technique in order to raise the productivity of labor? To propose to the boss that they will produce more? No! The workers of our country have not the smallest desire to do this...."
Thus, by using numerous factual data, and first and foremost the materials of the All-Union Conference of Stakhanov Workers, Comrade Grenier answers other hostile arguments: He proves the absurdity of the idea of the possibility of over-production in the U.S.S.R., and that Stakhanov work does not at all demand "exceptional physical strength". Then he explains the need for material inequality in paying the working people for their labor, under socialism.
Luigi Galle, “Stakhanovism in Socialist Construction”*
* Luigi Galle.. Lc Stakhanovismo Nella Construzione Socialista. Edition dell idea populaire. Paris. 1936. 31 pp.
The pamphlet of the well-known Italian Communist, Comrade Luigi Galle, was published in the Italian language in Paris. It is the stenogram of a lecture given by the author in a proletarian cultural circle for Italian workers.
The comprehensive pamphlet of Comrade Galle is a model of Communist mass propaganda. He gives an all-round serious picture, and in a form understandable to every worker, of the basic problems of the Stakhanov movement.
The author first and foremost shows the working conditions in the U.S.S.R., gives a detailed review of what the Soviet government has given the working class, namely, the extremely short working week, holidays with pay, protection of motherhood, various possibilities for study, medical aid, rest and participation in the management of production through production conferences. He speaks about socialist competition and about the various stages through which it has passed, and comes to the conclusion that the Stakhanov movement is a new regular stage in the development of socialist competition and the development of the productive initiative of the masses. Further, Comrade Galle makes use of a few examples of well-known Stakhanovites to show the essence of Stakhanov work, emphasizing that while the ideal of Taylor, the founder of capitalist rationalization, is “workers who serve the machine and do not attempt to think”, in the Soviet Union, on the contrary, we have the real “triumphs of man over the machine”.
The short concluding chapter of the pamphlet contrasts the land of socialism with fascist Italy, and ends with a call directed to Italian workers to struggle against Italian fascism. As a whole the pamphlet is without doubt of international interest, and it would be worth while to give not only the Italian reader the opportunity of becoming acquainted with it.
G. Friedrich, “Dusya Vinogradova”*
* G. Friedrich. Dussia Winogradowa. Verlag-Auslandischer Arbeiter. Moscou. 1936. (Miss U.S.S.R. International Publishers, New York, 1936.)
The sketch by G. Friedrich of Dusya Vinogradova (which appeared as a separate pamphlet in the German and English languages, and as a supplement to the pamphlet of Grenier in the French language) is the first attempt to give a live portrait of one of the leading workers of socialist industry.
The enemies of the Soviet Union direct their most poisonous arrows of slander against the initiators of the Stakhanov movement, striving to present them as something extraordinary, as something which has almost lost all human form. And this is repeated sometimes by people who consider themselves as belonging to the working class movement. According to the definition of the Anarchist French journal Primer, an “illiterate giant, a massive and brainless ‘robot’ ” can be an example of a Stakhanovite. The French Socialist Severaque, who writes in the Populaire, agrees with this definition:
"A human machine which is continually keyed up to the extreme limits of its strength, in order to break records, is a sight which is not exceptional in its greatness nor beauty."
One of these "human machines", one of these "illiterate giants" is Dusya Vinogradova, a young girl who has mastered the complicated technique of minding 216 automatic looms, thanks to her own inventive initiative. An active member of the Young Communist League, she finds time to train Pioneers, to read, dance, engage in sport and prepare herself to enter a technical university. Such is Dusya Vinogradova, the young harmoniously developed socialist being, a typical representative of both the Soviet woman and Soviet youth. The whole of the Soviet Union knows her as such, a:nd she is so described after a visit to her in Vichuga by G. Friedrich, who had the possibility of seeing with his own eyes the "secret" of the unheard of productivity of her labor.
We hope that a few more such sketches of the live people of the Stakhanov movement will appear in the near future. They will be the best answer to the slanderers who do not understand, or who do not want to understand, what the new being in the Socialist Soviet Union really is.Click here to return to the index of archival material.