Kremlin Chief Has Reverted to
Autocracy of Early Czars,
5-YEAR PLAN IS FLEXIBLE
Soviet Leaders Aim Through it
to Direct Masses--Its Relative
Success Not Crucial
THEORETICAL DAYS PASSING
Lenin Modified Marxism and Stalin
Now Turns Practical Trends of
People to His Own Policy
This is the first of a series of
articles on present conditions In
Russia by THE New York TIMES'S
Moscow correspondent, who is now
out of Russia on a holiday in Western Europe
By WALTER DURANTY
Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES
PARIS, June 13.-Russia today cannot be judged by Western standards or
Interpreted in Western terms. Western Marxists and Socialists go nearly as
far wrong about it as the "bourgeois" critics because they fail to
understand that the dominant principle of the Soviet Union, though called
Marxism or Communism, is now a very different thing from the theoretical
conception advanced by Karl Marx.
In thirteen years Russia has transformed Marxism-which was only a theory
anyway-to suit its racial needs and characteristics, which are strange and
peculiar, and fundamentally more Asiatic than European.
The dominant principle in Russia today is not Marxism or even Leninism
although the latter is its official title, but Stalinism-to use a word which
Joseph Stalin deprecates and rejects. I mean that, just as Leninism meant
Marxian theory plus practical application, plus Russia, so Stalinism denotes
a further development from Leninism and bears witness to the prodigious
influence of the Russian character and folkways upon what seemed the rigid
theory of Marx.
Operating Principle Is Russian
Stalinism is a tree that has grown from - the alien seed of Marxism planted
in Russian soil, and whether Western Socialists like it or not it is a
Old Russia was an amorphous mass, held together by a mystic, half Asian idea
of an imperial regime wherein the emperor was exalted to the position of
vice regent, with limitless power over the bodies, souls, property and
even thoughts of his subjects. That, at least, was the theory, and it was
only when the Czars themselves began to question it and "act human" that a
spirit of doubt and eventual rebellion became manifest.
The Czarist regime was poisoned by the European veneer that was spread over
Russia-a veneer that was foreign and at bottom unwelcome to the mass of the
Russian people-and one of the things the Bolshevist revolution did was to
sweep away this alien crust and give the essential Russianinity underneath
an opportunity to breathe and grow. Which explains why the Bolsheviki, who
at first were a mere handful among Russia's millions, were able successfully
to impose their dominant principle - namely Marxism-which in superficial
appearance was far more alien than the Germanized or Westernized system it
The truth is that the ideas outlined hi the Communist Manifesto of Marx
(which incidentally expounds his whole philosophy far more simply, lucidly
and concretely than the ponderous "Das Kapital" and should be learned by
heart by any one who wishes to understand the Soviet Union) suited the
Russian masses much better than the Western theory of individualism and
private enterprise imported by Peter the Great and his successors, who
finally perished in the conflict it involved with the native character of
Stalin Abolished NEP
Lenin took and shaped Marxism to fit the Russian foot, and although
circumstances compelled him to abandon it temporarily for the New Economic
Policy, he always maintained that this political manoeuvre was not a basic
change of policy. Sure enough, Stalin, his successor and devout disciple,
first emasculated the NEP and then set about abolishing it. Today the NEP is
a sorry stave in the outer courts of the Soviet palace.
That is what Stalin did and is doing to our boasted Western individualism
and spirit of personal initiative-which was what the NEP meant-not because
Stalin is so powerful or cruel and full of hate for the capitalist system as
such, but because he has a flair for political management unrivalled since
Charles Murphy died.
Stalin is giving the Russian people-the Russian masses, not Westernized
landlords, industrialists bankers and intellectuals, but Russia's
150,000,000 peasants and workers- what they really want namely, joint
effort, communal effort. And communal life is as acceptable to them as it is
repugnant to a Westerner. flits is one of the reasons why - Russian
Bolshevism will never succeed in the United States, Great Britain, France or
other parts west of the Rhine.
Stalinism, too, has done what Lenin only attempted. It has re-established
the semi-divine, supreme autocracy of the imperial idea and has placed
itself on the Kremlin throne as a ruler whose lightest word is all In all
and whose frown spells death. Try that on free-born Americans or the British
with their tough loyalty to old things, or on France's consciousness of
self. But it suits the Russians and is as familiar, natural and right to the
Russian mind as it is abominable and wrong to Western nations.
Key to Stalin's Power
This Stalin knows and that knowledge is his key to power. Stalin does not
think of him as a dictator or an autocrat, but as the guardian of the sacred
flame, or 'party line' as the Bolsheviki term it, which for want of a better
name must be labeled Stalinism.
Its authority is as absolute as any emperors-it is an inflexible rule of
thought, ethics, conduct and purpose that none may transgress. And its
practical expression finds form in what is known as the five-year plan. The
Soviet five-year plan is a practical expression of the dominant
principle-which for convenience the writer will call Stalinism, although
Stalin still terms it Leninism-which rules Russia today with absolute
In a sense it is far more than a plan-and in another sense it is not a plan
at all. It is a slogan for a national policy and purpose rather than the
glorified budgetary program which it appears at first at first sight to be.
Most persons outside Russia seem to think that if the five-year plan "fails'
it will be the end of Bolshevism and that if it "succeeds" it will mean the
end of capitalism elsewhere. Nothing could be more absurd or more wrong.
The five-year plan is nothing more or less than applied Stalinism, and its
mass of bewildering figures is only the thermometer to measure the degree of
heat engendered by the application of the plan, but is not other wise
intrinsically important The figures have been changed so often and so
considerably as to cease to have real value save as an indication of the
"tempo," or rate, at which Stalinism is gaining ground.
Five-Year Plan Provides Goal
To the rest of the world it is only a menace in the sense that Bolshevism
itself is a menace- which may or may not be true. To Russia it is only a
hope or promise in terms or what Bolshevism itself offers. But to the
Russian people the five-year plan is infinitely more besides-it is a goal to
aim at, and its inception cannot be regarded as a stroke of genius by any
one familiar with the Russian nature.
Russians ignorant or wise, have a positive passion for plans. They almost
worship a plan, and the first thing any one, two or more Russians ever do
about anything is make a plan for it. That, after making his plan, the
Russian feels satisfied and seems to lose sight of the fact that a plan must
next be carried out is of the great obstacles Stalin and his associates are
So, to conceive a whole national policy and everything in the national life
as one gigantic plan was the political tour do force that put Stalin In the
highest rank. Every one who has employed Russians or worked with Russians or
knows Russians finds that if he wants them to jump on a chair, he must tell
them to jump on a table, and aiming at the table they will reach the chair.
The important things that they have something to jump at and make an
effort-whether they actually get there all at once or not does not really
matter in a country of such vast natural resources and with such a tough and
What matters is that they keep on trying, and that is what Stalinism and its
five-year plan is set to make them do. In others words, the five-year plan
is something for the Russians -to measure at, not for the rest of the world
to measure Russians by. This sounds confusing, but it is true, and if you
cannot understand it you cannot understand Russia.
Chief Purpose Is Direction
The whole purpose of the plan is to get the Russians going-that is, to make
a nation at eager, conscious workers out of a nation that was a lump of
sodden, driven slaves. Outsiders "viewing with alarm' or hooting with
disdain as they take and into making an effort and making all together in
tune to the Kremlin's music. That is why the Soviet press utters shouts of
Joy about the five year plan for oil production being accomplished in two
and a half years and does not care a rap when some meticulous foreigners
comment about the fact that nothing like the five- year amount of oil has
actually been produced.
What the Soviet press really means is that in two and a half years the daily
production rate-or tempo-has reached the point set for the end of the fifth
year of the plan-in short, that Oil has jumped on the table way ahead or
time. That the said rate may only be maintained with the utmost difficulty
has small importance to Russian logic, and rightly so, because a successful
effort has been made and what a man has done once that man can do again.
Russia and Russians and Russian logic are different, but the tact that they
are different does not necessarily mean they are wrong.
In succeeding dispatches the writer will try to show what this difference is
and how it works. More immediately, how the five-year plan works in practice
in this, which the Russians call, the "third and decisive year.' And
incidentally, by "decisive" they do not mean critical or deciding of success or failure, but victorious--deciding success only.
By Walter Duranty, The New York Times, NY, NY, Sunday, June 14,
1931, page one and fourteen. This is article number one of the thirteen
articles written in 1931 submitted by Walter Duranty to the Pulitzer Prize
Board for the 1932 Pulitzer Prize competition. The 1932 Pulitzer Prize was
later awarded to him. FOR PERSONAL AND ACADEMIC USE ONLY
WALTER DURANTY'S 13 ARTICLES WRITTEN IN 1931
WHICH WERE SUBMITTED FOR THE 1932 PULITZER PRIZE
Eleven-part series in The New York Times:
Duranty 1: 6/14/1931
"Red Russia of Today Ruled by Stalinism, Not Communism"
Duranty 2: 6/16/1931
"Socialism First Aim in Soviet's Program; Trade Gains Second"
Duranty 3: 6/18/1931
"Stalinism Shelves World Revolt Idea; To Win Russia First"
Duranty 4: 6/19/1931
"Industrial Success Emboldens Soviet in New World Policy"
Duranty 5: 6/20/1931
"Trade Equilibrium is New Soviet Goal"
Duranty 6: 6/22/1931
"Soviet Fixes Opinion by Widest Control"
Duranty 7: 6/23/1931
"Soviet Censorship Hurts Russia Most"
Duranty 8: 6/24/1931
"Stalinism Smashes Foes in Marx's Name"
Duranty 9: 6/25/1931
"Red Army is Held No Menace to Peace"
Duranty 10: 6/26/1931
"Stalinism Solving Minorities Problem"
Duranty 11: 6/27/1931
"Stalinism's Mark is Party Discipline"
Two articles in The New York Times magazine:
Duranty 12: 3/29/1931
"The Russian Looks at the World"
Duranty 13: 12/20/1931
"Stalin's Russia Is An Echo of Iron Ivan's"