MARXIST INTERNET ARCHIVE



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From rebuilding production to social confrontation

To understand the collectivization, the prevailing situation in the Soviet countryside in the twenties must be recalled.

From 1921, the Bolsheviks had concentrated their efforts on the principal objective, which was the re-establishment of industry on a socialist footing.

At the same time, they attempted to rebuild the productive forces in the countryside, by encouraging individual production and small-scale capitalism, which they tried to control and lead towards various co-operative forms.

These objectives were obtained towards 1927--1928. Davies  noted:

`Between 1922 and 1926, the New Economic Policy, by and large, was a brilliant success .... The production of the peasant economy in 1926 was equal to that of the whole of agriculture, including the landowners' estates, before the revolution. Grain production reached approximately the pre-war level, and the production of potatoes apparently exceeded that level by as much as 75 per cent .... The number of livestock ... in 1928 exceeded (the 1914 level) by 7--10 per cent in the case of cattle and pigs .... the proportion of sown area and of gross agricultural production devoted to grain was lower in 1928 than in 1913 --- a good general indicator of agricultural progress.'

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R. W. Davies,  The Industrialisation of Soviet Russia I: The Socialist Offensive; The Collectivisation of Soviet Agriculture, 1929--1930 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1980), pp. 4--5.

The socialist revolution had brought great gains to the peasant masses. The peasants without land had received plots. Overly large families were able to divide. In 1927, there were 24 to 25 million peasant families, as opposed to 19.5 in 1917. The number of persons per family had dropped from 6.1 to 5.3. Direct taxes and rent were significantly lower than under the old régime. The peasants kept and consumed a much greater share of their harvests. `Grain for the towns, the army, industry and export in 1926/27 amounted to only 10 million tons as compared with 18.8 million tons in 1909--13 (average).'

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Ibid. , pp. 16--18.

At the same time the Bolsheviks encouraged the peasants to form all sorts of co-operatives and they created the first experimental kolkhozy (collective farms). The point was to determine how, in the future, peasants could be led to socialism, although the schedule was still unclear. However, on the whole, there existed by 1927 very few socialistic elements in the countryside, where the dominant presence were the peasants individually working their plots of land. In 1927, 38 per cent of the peasants had been regrouped in consumers' co-operatives, but it was the rich peasants who led them. These co-operatives received 50 per cent of the farm subsidies, the rest being invested in private holdings, in general kulak.

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Lynne Viola,  The Best Sons of the Fatherland: Workers in the Vanguard of Soviet Collectivisation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), p. 22.





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Fri Aug 25 09:03:42 PDT 1995