I am delving now into the profound shifts in the understanding of human nature during the 1930s in the Soviet Union. Stakhanovite passion and the repeated purges of ‘red terror’ were two sides of the same process, which we may understand as a tension between the Pelagian and Augustinian approaches to human nature. They were driven by extraordinary and widespread enthusiasm for the massive project of industrialisation and collectivisation. On the Stakhanovite side, the underlying motive is best expressed by the following, from a talk with metal workers in December, 1934:
We must cherish every capable and intelligent worker, we must cherish and cultivate him. People must be cultivated as tenderly and carefully as a gardener cultivates a favourite fruit tree. We must train, help to grow, offer prospects, promote at the proper time, transfer to other work at the proper time when a man is not equal to his job, and not wait until he has finally come to grief.
Stalin, Works, vol. 14, p. 48.