MARXIST INTERNET ARCHIVE



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`Colossal support'

The collectivization of the countryside halted the spontaneous tendency of small-scale merchant production to polarize society into rich and poor, into exploiters and exploited. The kulaks, the rural bourgeois, were repressed and eliminated as a social class. The development of a rural bourgeoisie in a country where 80 per cent of the population still lived in the countryside would have asphyxiated and killed Soviet socialism. The collectivization prevented that from happening.

Collectivization and a planned economy allowed the Soviet Union to survive the total, barbaric war waged against it by the German Nazis. During the first years of the war, wheat consumption was reduced by one half but, thanks to planning, the available quantities were equitably distributed. The regions occupied and ravaged by the Nazis represented 47 per cent of the area of cultivated land. The fascists destroyed 98,000 collective enterprises. But between 1942 and 1944, 12 million hectares of newly cultivated land were sown in the eastern part of the country.

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Ibid. , p. 83, 90.

Thanks to the superiority of the socialist system, agricultural production was able to reach the 1940 level by 1948.

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Ibid. , p. 85.

In a few years, a completely new system of organization of work, a complete upheaval of technique and a profound cultural revolution won the hearts of the peasants. Bettelheim  noted:

`(T)he overwhelming majority of peasants were very attached to the new system of exploitation. The proof came during the war, since in the regions occupied by the German troops, despite the efforts made by the Nazi authorities, the kolkhozian form of exploitation was maintained.'

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Ibid. , pp. 113--114.

This opinion by someone who favored the Communist system can be completed with the testimony of Alexander Zinoviev,  an opponent of Stalin. As a child, Zinoviev  was a witness to the collectivization.

`When I returned to the village, even much later, I often asked my mother and other kolkhozians if they would have accepted an individual farm if they were offered the possibility. They all refused categorically.'

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Zinoviev,  op. cit. , p. 53.

`(The village school) had only seven grades, but acted as the bridge to the region's technical schools, which trained the veterinarians, agronomists, mechanics, tractor drivers, accountants and other specialists needed for the new `agriculture'. In Chukhloma, there was a secondary school with ten grades that offered better perspectives to its finishing students. All these institutions and professions were the result of an unprecedented cultural revolution. The collectivization directly contributed to this upheaval. Besides these more or less trained specialists, the villages hosted technicians from the cities; these technicians had a secondary or higher education. The structure of the rural population became closer to that of urban society .... I was a witness to this evolution during my childhood .... This extremely rapid change of rural society gave the new system huge support from the masses of the population. All this despite the horrors of the collectivization and the industrialization.'

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Ibid. , p. 56.

The extraordinary achievements of the Soviet régime ensured it `a colossal support' from the workers and `a disgust of the horrors' from the exploiting classes: Zinoviev  constantly wavers between these two positions. Student after the war, Zinoviev recalls a discussion that he had with another anti-Communist student:

`If there had been no collectivization and no industrialization, could we have won the war against the Germans?

`No.

`Without the Stalinist hardships, could we have have kept the country in an orderly state?

`No.

`If we had not built up industry and armaments, could we have preserved the security and independence of our State?

`No.

`So, what do you propose?

`Nothing.'

.

Ibid. , p. 236.



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Fri Aug 25 09:03:42 PDT 1995