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Yanks for Stalin
Interview Transcript

Stephen Kotkin    (cont)

Q.  Finish the thoughts about.....

A.  The cooperation of the Capitalist countries in industrializing the Soviet Union was a tremendous propaganda boon for the Soviets.  Not only did they tell their people that they were going to catch and overtake the Capitalists, that they were a better system and that they were the future and the Capitalists were the past, but, the Capitalists were the main ones helping them to defeat Capitalism to overcome Capitalism and to advance Socialism.  This lead in many ways to undergirding Stalins reputation as a master statesmen, as a master politician.  Using the Capitalists to beat the Capitalists at their own game, including such famous Capitalists as Henry Ford.  Moreover, acquire the Capitalist technology and then after you've got it, kicking the Capitalists out and then saying 'we've got it, we don't need you anymore'.  This kind of propaganda value, this kind of propaganda coop was trumpeted by the Soviet media. 

A.  This kind of propaganda value, this kind of propaganda coop, was trumpeted by the Soviet media and was very effective in (mumble) Stalins image and the image of the Soviet government as a whole.  Afterall, there was these thousands of new factories while the Capitalists were undergoing the Great Depression and the Capitalists had more or less given them to the Soviets, despite the so called political differences and despite the Capitalists criticism of the Soviet system as Authoritarian and as godless and the Capitalists were doing more than anyone else to help the Soviets build up what they have. This incontravertible fact was used by the Soviet government and had tremendous importance for them.  There was no Capitalist answer in a way, because, the Capitalist government either did not try or was incapable of prohibiting the transfer of technology from their most important private firms to the Soviet Union.  In the Cold War period after 1945, it was often the case that Capitalist countries would attempt to impose technology transfer limits on private firms in dealing with the Soviet Union.  In some cases, these limits were imposed, in other cases, even when they were imposed the Soviets were able to acquire the technology by suprofuse, either by espionage or by paying the Capitalist money and they were only to happy to sell it.  So, the issue of technology transfer had political valance on both sides.  In the Soviets case, as an example of their cleverness and superiority over the Capitalists, and  in the Capitalists case as an example of the danger of the Soviets and the need to ascert political controls over the private sector in technology transfer.  We see these same kinds of debates arising now in the U.S. relations with China.

Q.   Let's do John Scott.  Why he left, his expectations, tell more or less what we were talking about before. Tell your perspective on John Scott's story.  Talk about John Scott for us.

A.   John Scott was a very bright young man from a priviledged family, in fact, from a family that was very well known.  He went to an experimental school in Wisconsin which was an exceptionally high level education.  He got frustrated and he left.  He decided to go to the Soviet Union and to seek his fortune as a nineteen year old, despite all the priviledges he had in his upbringing and despite having an exceptionally good educational experience in Wisconsin, where he was going to school.  He gave up maid service.  He gave up his university education.  He went on a ship, across the ocean and made his way to Berlin.  In Berlin, he spoke to Soviet representatives, they allowed him into the country, recruited him essentially as a worker.  He had some welding skills in (city) at the GE plant, a kind of six month welding course.  He wasn't particularily skilled, so he wasn't among the engineers or professionals recruited by (name) and he had to convince the Soviets and make his way into the country on his wits.  He also was a Leftest and felt, like many people of his generation, particularly in the U.S., that there was something to the Soviet Socialism and the industrialization boon that was going on that country.  He was assigned to someplace called Macnita Garsk, which very few people had heard of, including John Scott himself, because it didn't really exist.  It was a dream.  It was a vision for a future of abundance and happiness, for an industrialized modern civilazation that would bring the best possible life to all human beings involved with it.  Scott got there and it was , of course, a frozen, empty piece of land where lots of construction was going on in chaotic fashion.  He, like many other people, didn't know what to expect when he got there and was a  little bit suprised that there was nothing really there yet, except the chaos and the plans for some kind of future construction.  He got involved in a construction brigade with building this factory, a modern steel plant modeled after Gary, Indiana, which was U.S. steel flagship plant.

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