MARXIST INTERNET ARCHIVE



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... or betting on the individual peasant?

In 1928, as in 1927, the grain harvest was 3.5 to 4.5 million tonnes less than in 1926, due to very bad climatic conditions. In January 1928, the Politburo unanimously decided to take exceptional measures, by seizing wheat from the kulaks and the well-to-do peasants, to avoid famine in the cities. `Worker discontent was increasing. Tension was rising in the countryside. The situation seemed hopeless. Whatever the cost, the city needed bread', wrote two Bukharinists  in 1988.

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G. Bourdiougov  and V. Kozlov,  Épisodes d'une biographie politique. Introduction to Boukharine,  op. cit. , p. 15.

The Party leadership around Stalin could see only one way out: develop the kolkhozian movement as fast as possible.

Bukharin  was opposed. On July 1, 1928, he sent a letter to Stalin. The kolkhozy, he wrote, could not be the way out, since it would take several years to put them in place, particularly since they cannot be immediately supplied with machines. `Individual peasant holdings must be encouraged and relations must be normalized with the peasantry'.

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Ibid. , p. 16.

The development of individual enterprise became the basis for Bukharin's  political line. He claimed to agree that the State should expropriate a part of individual production to further the development of industry, but that this should take place using market mechanisms. Stalin would state in October of that year: `there are people in the ranks of our party who are striving, perhaps without themselves realizing it, to adapt our socialist construction to the tastes and needs of our ``Soviet'' bourgeoisie.'

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Stalin, The Right Danger. Leninism,  p. 79.

The situation in the cities was getting worse. In 1928 and 1929, bread had to be rationed, then sugar, tea and meat. Between October 1, 1927 and 1929, the prices of agricultural products rose by 25.9 per cent. The price of wheat on the free market rose by 289 per cent.

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Davies,  op. cit. , p. 47.

Early in 1929, Bukharin  spoke of the links in the single chain of socialist economy, and added:

`(T)he kulak co-operative nests will, similarly, through the banks, etc., grow into the same system ....

`Here and there the class struggle in the rural districts breaks out in its former manifestations, and, as a rule, the outbreaks are provoked by the kulak elements. However, such incidents, as a rule, occur in those places where the local Soviet apparatus is weak. As this apparatus improves, as all the lower units of the Soviet government become stronger, as the local, village party and Young Communist organizations improve and become stronger, such phenomena, it is perfectly obvious, will become more and more rare and will finally disappear leaving no trace.'

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Stalin, The Right Danger, pp. 95, 99.

Bukharin  was already following a social-democratic policy of `class peace' and was blind to the relentless struggle of the kulaks to oppose collectivization by all means. He saw the `weaknesses' of the Party and State apparatuses as the reason for the class war, without understanding that they were heavily infiltrated and influenced by the kulaks. The purge of these apparatuses would itself be a class struggle linked to the offensive against the kulaks.

At the Central Committee Plenary in April 1929, Bukharin  proposed to import wheat, putting an end to the exceptional measures against `the peasantry', to increase the prices for agricultural products, to uphold `revolutionary legality', to reduce the rate of industrialization and to accelerate the development of the means of agricultural production. Kaganovich  responded:

`You have made no new propositions, and you are incapable since they are non-existent, because we are facing a class enemy that is attacking us, that refuses to give its wheat surplus for the socialist industrialization and that declares: give me a tractor, give me electoral rights, and then you will get wheat.'

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Bourdiougov  and Kozlov,  op. cit. , pp. 26--27.



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Fri Aug 25 09:03:42 PDT 1995