the individual or collective obligations undertaken by those who, in the socialist countries, take part in socialist competition for the fulfillment and overfulfillment of state plans for economic development, cultural advancement, and improvement of the working people’s living standard.
Socialist obligations are typically undertaken in order to exceed plan targets and established output rates. Even when socialist competition in the USSR was in its inception, when it took the form of Communist subbotniki (see COMMUNIST SUBBOTNIKI), V. I. Lenin noted in his “Addendum to the Draft Regulations on Subbotniki” (1920) that “subbotniki should yield results not below established output rates, but participants should try to exceed these rates” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 40, p. 288).
In the 1920’s, with the rise of the shock-worker (udarnik) movement, the struggle to exceed established output rates grew to massive proportions. Socialist obligations came to be the primary ingredient in socialist agreements concluded between individual workers and collectives. The first competition agreement containing socialist obligations on plan overfulfillment was concluded by a fettlers’ brigade in the pipe shop of the Krasnyi Vyborzhets plant in Leningrad in early 1929.
The successful fulfillment of socialist obligations by factories, plants, mines, railroads, sovkhozes, and kolkhozes contributed to the fulfillment of the first five-year plan in four years, from 1929 to 1932. With the rise of the Stakhanovite movement during the second five-year plan (1933-37), when the USSR achieved results decisive for the communist party’s policy of socialist industrialization, socialist obligations came primarily to involve the mastering of new equipment and techniques and the practice of greatly exceeding technical output rates and the projected capacities of enterprises. Since the late 1950’s the slogan of the growing movement for a communist attitude toward labor (seeCOLLECTIVES AND SHOCK WORKERS OF COMMUNIST LABOR) has been “Learn to work and live in communist style.” Along with plan overfulfillment, increasingly more attention has been given in socialist obligation to improvement of the qualitative indexes of performance, to increased moral demands on and an improved political and general-educational level among those who take part in competition, and to communist education of the working people.
The 1971 resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU On Further Improvement in the Organization of Socialist Competition, a program for promoting competition in the period of developed socialism, has played a decisive role in enriching the content of socialist obligations and in harmonizing such obligations with the country’s economic tasks in an age of scientific and technological revolution and powerful upsurges in the socialist economy. The primary socialist obligations are to raise labor productivity and the efficiency of social production in every possible way. Socialist obligations also involve concrete indexes of higher labor productivity, reduced labor expenditures, more rational utilization and conservation of raw materials and material resources, the creation and mastering of new equipment and techniques and new kinds of production, and improvement of production quality. Meeting cooperative delivery commitments on schedule is of great importance in socialist obligations. “The socialist obligations of collectives,” states the resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU, “should take shape beginning with the goals and tasks set for the enterprises and branches of industry in a given plan period of production development; they should include the individual obligations and suggestions of workers, kolkhozniki, office workers, and engineering and technical personnel, express these groups’ initiative and experience, and inspire the working people to creative effort and better utilization of existing reserves and capabilities” (KPSS v rezoliutsiakh, 8th ed., vol. 10,1972, pp. 494-95).
As a rule, those participating in socialist competition begin drafting their socialist obligations as the plans for the coming year are being drafted. Many collectives of working people propose counterplans, which often greatly exceed the control targets of the ministries and government departments. As the confirmed plans are being fulfilled, the collectives review their socialist obligations with an eye to raising them as new capabilities arise or as new reserves are discovered. It is now tradition to take on greater socialist obligations in connection with outstanding events in the life of the CPSU, such as party congresses, or in connection with historic dates, such as the anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, Lenin’s birthday, or May Day. The fulfillment of collective socialist obligations is usually checked and crosschecked every month and every quarter or, in competition at the republic, krai, and oblast levels, once or twice a year. In many enterprises, personal socialist obligations are checked daily. The results are publicized at meetings, in the press, and on the radio.
S. R. GERSHBERG