In his speech on Soviet Industrialization, why does Stalin not want to slow the workers' tempo?
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In his distinct and unique style, Stalin makes the argument that each moment that is slow and not responsive to the demands of a fast pace puts the Soviet Union behind in terms of world competitiveness. Stalin argues that slowing down the workers' tempo is a form of slowing down the Soviet Union. In Stalin's mind, "slowing down" is something he equates to defeat, a pattern in Russian History that he argues he has been chosen to stop by virtue of his selection as leader:
To slacken the tempo would mean falling behind. And those who fall behind get beaten. But we do not want to be beaten. No, we refuse to be beaten! One feature of the history of old Russia was the continual beatings she suffered because of her backwardness. She was beaten by the Mongol khans. She was beaten by the Turkish beys. She was beaten by the Swedish feudal lords. She was beaten by the Polish and Lithuanian gentry. She was beaten by the British and French capitalists. She was beaten by the Japanese barons. All beat her because of her backwardness, military backwardness, cultural backwardness, political backwardness, industrial backwardness, agricultural backwardness.
Stalin's argument is that the idea of "slowing down" is something he equates to the past, something that denies the notion of the future that Stalin so strongly wishes to convey to the people of the Soviet Union. At the same time, in connecting a slowing down of production tempo to the past, Stalin wants to make the argument that he and his leadership are the only path to a successful future, something that has not been in the historical DNA of the Soviet Union.
At the same time, Stalin wishes to bring out that the "exceptional" nature of the Soviet Union is one on in which others wish to challenge her. In this fundamental challenge, Stalin points out that to slow down the tempo of the workers gives the opponents of the Soviet Union a chance to catch up and eventually defeat the nation. In striking an "Us against the World" mentality, Stalin's argument of a quick and fast pace becomes a part of his motivation in the speech:
That is why Lenin said on the eve of the October Revolution: 'Either perish, or overtake and outstrip the advanced capitalist countries.' 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 be crushed.
In these ideas, Stalin makes clear that the workers' tempo cannot slow down.
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