MARXIST INTERNET ARCHIVE | History of CP Bolshevik

H I S T O R Y O F  T H E C O M M U N I S T   P A R T Y

O F  T H E

S O V I E T  U N I O N

(B O L S H E V I K S)

C H A P T E R   E L E V E N

FROM THE POLICY OF RESTRICTING THE KULAK ELEMENTS TO THE POLICY OF ELIMINATING THE KULAKS AS A CLASS. STRUGGLE AGAINST DISTORTIONS OF THE PARTY POLICY IN THE COLLECTIVE-FARM MOVEMENT. OFFENSIVE AGAINST THE CAPITALIST ELEMENTS ALONG THE WHOLE LINE. SIX-TEENTH PARTY CONGRESS

    The mass influx of the peasants into the collective farms in 1929 and 1930 was a result of the whole preceding work of the Party and the Government. The growth of Socialist industry, which had begun the mass production of tractors and machines for agriculture; the vigorous measures taken against the kulaks during the grain-purchasing campaigns of 1928 and 1929; the spread of agricultural co-operative societies, which gradually accustomed the peasants to collective farming; the good results obtained by the first collective farms and state farms -- all this prepared the way for solid collectivization, when the peasants of entire villages, districts and regions joined the collective farms.

    Solid collectivization was not just a peaceful process -- the overwhelming bulk of the peasantry simply joining the collective farms -- but was a struggle of the peasant masses against the kulaks. Solid collectivization meant that all the land in a village area in which a collective farm was formed passed into the hands of the collective farm; but a considerable portion of this land was held by the kulaks, and therefore the peasants would expropriate them, driving them from the land, dispossessing them of their cattle and machinery and demanding their arrest and eviction from the district by the Soviet authorities.

    Solid collectivization therefore meant the elimination of the kulaks.

    This was a policy of eliminating the kulaks as a class, on the basis of solid collectivization.

    By this time, the U.S.S.R. had a strong enough material base to allow it to put an end to the kulaks, break their resistance, eliminate them as a class and replace kulak farming by collective and state farming.

    In 1927 the kulaks still produced over 600,000,000 poods of grain, of which about 130,000,000 poods were available for sale. In that year the collective and state farms had only 35,000,000 poods of grain available for sale. In 1929, thanks to the Bolshevik Party's firm policy of developing state farms and collective farms, and likewise to the progress made by Socialist industry in supplying the countryside with tractors and agricultural machinery, the collective farms and state farms had become an important factor. In that year the collective farms and state farms already produced no less than 400,000,000 poods of grain, of which over 130,000,000 poods were marketed. This was more than the kulaks had marketed in 1927. And in 1930 the collective farms and state farms were to produce, and actually did produce, over 400,000,000 poods of grain for the market, which was incomparably more than had been marketed by the kulaks in 1927.

    Thus, thanks to the changed alignment of class forces in the economic life of the country, and the existence of the necessary material base for the replacement of the kulak grain output by that of the collective and state farms, the Bolshevik Party was able to proceed from the policy of restricting the kulaks to a new policy, the policy of eliminating them as a class, on the basis of solid collectivization.

    Prior to 1929, the Soviet Government had pursued a policy of restricting the kulaks. It had imposed higher taxes on the kulak, and had required him to sell grain to the state at fixed prices; by the law on the renting of land it had to a certain extent restricted the amount of land he could use; by the law on the employment of hired labour on private farms it had limited the scope of his farm. But it had not yet pursued a policy of eliminating the kulaks, since the laws on the renting of land and the hiring of labour allowed them to carry on, while the prohibition of their expropriation gave them a certain guarantee in this respect. The effect of this policy was to arrest the growth of the kulak class, some sections of which, unable to withstand the pressure of these restrictions, were forced out of business and ruined. But this policy did not destroy the economic foundations of the kulaks as a class, nor did it tend to eliminate them. It was a policy of restricting the kulaks, not of eliminating them. This policy was essential up to a certain time, that is, as long as the collective farms and state farms were still weak and unable to replace the kulaks in the production of grain.

    At the end of 1929, with the growth of the collective farms and state farms, the Soviet Government turned sharply from this policy to the policy of eliminating the kulaks, of destroying them as a class. It repealed the laws on the renting of land and the hiring of labour, thus, depriving the kulaks both of land and of hired labourers. It lifted the ban on the expropriation of the kulaks. It permitted the peasants to confiscate cattle, machines and other farm property from the kulaks for the benefit of the collective farms. The kulaks were expropriated. They were expropriated just as the capitalists had been expropriated in the sphere of industry in 1918, with this difference, however, that the kulaks' means of production did not pass into the hands of the state, but into the hands of the peasants united in the collective farms.

    This was a profound revolution, a leap from an old qualitative state of society to a new qualitative state, equivalent in its consequences to the revolution of October 1917.

    The distinguishing feature of this revolution is that it was accomplished from above, on the initiative of the state, and directly supported from below by the millions of peasants, who were fighting to throw off kulak bondage and to live in freedom in the collective farms.

    This revolution, at one blow, solved three fundamental problems of Socialist construction:

    a) It eliminated the most numerous class of exploiters in our country, the kulak class, the mainstay of capitalist restoration;

    b) It transferred the most numerous labouring class in our country, the peasant class, from the path of individual farming, which breeds capitalism, to the path of co-operative, collective, Socialist farming;

    c) It furnished the Soviet regime with a Socialist base in agriculture -- the most extensive and vitally necessary, yet least developed, branch of national economy.

    This destroyed the last mainsprings of the restoration of capitalism within the country and at the same time created new and decisive conditions for the building up of a Socialist economic system.

    Explaining the reasons for the policy of eliminating the kulaks as a class, and summing up the results of the mass movement of the peasants for solid collectivization, Comrade Stalin wrote in 1929:

    "The last hope of the capitalists of all countries, who are dreaming of restoring capitalism in the U.S.S.R. -- 'the sacred principle of private property' -- is collapsing and vanishing. The peasants, whom they regarded as material manuring the soil for capitalism, are abandoning en masse the lauded banner of 'private property' and are taking to the path of collectivism, the path of Socialism. The last hope for the restoration of capitalism is crumbling." (Stalin, Leninism, Vol. II, "A Year of Great Change.")

    The policy of eliminating the kulaks as a class was embodied in the historic resolution on "The Rate of Collectivization and State Measures to Assist the Development of Collective Farms" adopted by the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B.) on January 5, 1930. In this decision, full account was taken of the diversity of conditions in the various districts of the U.S.S.R. and the varying degrees to which the regions were ripe for collectivization.

    Different rates of collectivization were established, for which purpose the Central Committee of the C.PS.U.(B.) divided the regions of the U.S.S.R. into three groups.

    The first group included the principal grain-growing areas: viz., the North Caucasus (the Kuban, Don and Terek), the Middle Volga and the Lower Volga, which were ripest for collectivization since they had the most tractors, the most state farms, and the most experience in fighting the kulaks, gained in past grain-purchasing campaigns. The Central Committee proposed that in this group of grain-growing areas collectivization should in the main be completed in the spring of 1931.

    The second group of grain-growing areas, the Ukraine, the Central Black-Earth Region, Siberia, the Urals, Kazakhstan and others could complete collectivization in the main in the spring of 1932.

    The other regions, territories and republics (Moscow Region, Transcaucasia, the republics of Central Asia, etc.) could extend the process of collectivization to the end of the Five-Year Plan, that is, to 1933.

    In view of the growing speed of collectivization, the Central Committee of the Party considered it necessary to accelerate the construction of plants for the production of tractors, harvester combines, tractor-drawn machinery, etc. Simultaneously, the Central Committee demanded that "the tendency to underestimate the importance of horse traction at the present stage of the collective-farm movement, a tendency which was leading to the reckless disposal and sale of horses, be resolutely checked."

    State loans to collective farms for the year 1929-30 were doubled (500,000,000 rubles) as compared with the original plan.

    The expense of the surveying and demarcation of the lands of the collective farms was to be borne by the state.

    The resolution contained the highly important direction that the chief form of the collective-farm movement at the given stage must be the agricultural artel, in which only the principal means of production are collectivized.

    The Central Committee most seriously warned Party organizations "against any attempts whatsoever to force the collective-farm movement by 'decrees' from above, which might involve the danger of the substitution of mock-collectivization for real Socialist emulation in the organization of collective farms." (Resolutions of the C.P.S.U.[B.], Russ. ed., Part II, page 662.)

    In this resolution the Central Committee made it clear how the Party's new policy in the countryside should be applied.

    The policy of eliminating the kulaks as a class and of solid collectivization stimulated a powerful collective-farm movement. The peasants of whole villages and districts joined the collective farms, sweeping the kulaks from their path and freeing themselves from kulak bondage.

    But with all the phenomenal progress of collectivization, certain faults on the part of Party workers, distortions of the Party policy in collective farm development, soon revealed themselves. Although the Central Committee had warned Party workers not to be carried away by the success of collectivization, many of them began to force the pace of collectivization artificially, without regard to the conditions of time and place, and heedless of the degree of readiness of the peasants to join the collective farms.

    It was found that the voluntary principle of forming collective farms was being violated, and that in a number of districts the peasants were being forced into the collective farms under threat of being dispossessed, disfranchised, and so on.

    In a number of districts, preparatory work and patient explanation of the underlying principles of the Party's policy with regard to collectivization were being replaced by bureaucratic decreeing from above, by exaggerated, fictitious figures regarding the formation of collective farms, by an artificial inflation of the percentage of collectivization.

    Although the Central Committee had specified that the chief form of the collective-farm movement must be the agricultural artel, in which only the principal means of production are collectivized, in a number of places pigheaded attempts were made to skip the artel form and pass straight to the commune; dwellings, milch-cows, small livestock, poultry, etc., not exploited for the market, were collectivized.

    Carried away by the initial success of collectivization, persons in authority in certain regions violated the Central Committee's explicit instructions regarding the pace and time limits of collectivization. In their zeal for inflated figures, the leadership of the Moscow Region gave the cue to their subordinates to complete collectivization by the spring of 1930, although they had no less than three years (till the end of 1932) for this purpose. Even grosser were the violations in Transcaucasia and Central Asia.

    Taking advantage of these distortions of policy for their own provocative ends, the kulaks and their toadies would themselves propose that communes be formed instead of agricultural artels, and that dwellings, small livestock and poultry be collectivized forthwith. Furthermore, the kulaks instigated the peasants to slaughter their animals before entering the collective farms, arguing that "they will be taken away anyhow."

The class enemy calculated that the distortions and mistakes committed by the local organizations in the process of collectivization would incense the peasantry and provoke revolts against the Soviet Government.

    As a result of the mistakes of Party organizations and the downright provocateur actions of the class enemy, in the latter half of February 1930, against the general background of the unquestionable success of collectivization, there were dangerous signs of serious discontent among the peasantry in a number of districts. Here and there, the kulaks and their agents even succeeded in inciting the peasants to outright anti-Soviet actions.

    Having received a number of alarming signals of distortions of the Party line that might jeopardize collectivization, the Central Committee of the Party immediately proceeded to remedy the situation, to set the Party workers the task of rectifying the mistakes as quickly as possible. On March 2, 1930, by decision of the Central Committee, Comrade Stalin's article, "Dizzy With Success," was published. This article was a warning to all who had been so carried away by the success of collectivization as to commit gross mistakes and depart from the Party line, to all who were trying to coerce the peasants to join the collective farms. The article laid the utmost emphasis on the principle that the formation of collective farms must be voluntary, and on the necessity of making allowances for the diversity of conditions in the various districts of the U.S.S.R. when determining the pace and methods of collectivization. Comrade Stalin reiterated that the chief form of the collective-farm movement was the agricultural artel, in which only the principal means of production, chiefly those used in grain growing, are collectivized, while household land, dwellings, part of the dairy cattle, small livestock, poultry, etc., are not collectivized.

    Comrade Stalin's article was of the utmost political moment. It helped the Party organizations to rectify their mistakes and dealt a severe blow to the enemies of the Soviet Government who had been hoping to take advantage of the distortions of policy to set the peasants against the Soviet Government. The broad mass of the peasants now saw that the line of the Bolshevik Party had nothing in common with the pigheaded "Left" distortions of local authorities. The article set the minds of the peasants at rest.

    In order to complete the work begun by Comrade Stalin's article in rectifying distortions and mistakes, the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U (B.) decided to strike another blow at them, and on March 15, 1930, published its resolution on "Measures to Combat the Distortions of the Party Line in the Collective-Farm Movement."

    This resolution made a detailed analysis of the mistakes committed, showing that they were the result of a departure from the Leninist-Stalinist line of the Party, the result of a flagrant breach of Party instructions.

    The Central Committee pointed out that these "Left" distortions were of direct service to the class enemy.

    The Central Committee gave directions that "persons who are unable or unwilling earnestly to combat distortions of the Party line must be removed from their posts and replaced." (Resolutions of the C.P.S.U.[B.], Part II, p. 663.)

    The Central Committee changed the leadership of certain regional and territorial Party organizations (Moscow Region, Transcaucasia) which had committed political mistakes and proved incapable of rectifying them.

    On April 3, 1930, Comrade Stalin's "Reply to Collective Farm Comrades" was published, in which he indicated the root cause of the mistakes in the peasant question and the major mistakes committed in the collective-farm movement, viz., an incorrect approach to the middle peasant, violation of the Leninist principle that the formation of collective farms must be voluntary, violation of the Leninist principle that allowance must be made for the diversity of conditions in the various districts of the U.S.S.R., and the attempts to skip the artel form and to pass straight to the commune.

    The result of all these measures was that the Party secured the correction of the distortions of policy committed by local Party workers in a number of districts.

    It required the utmost firmness on the part of the Central Committee and its ability to go against the current in order to promptly correct that considerable body of Party workers who, carried away by success, had been rapidly straying from the Party line.

    The Party succeeded in correcting the distortions of the Party line in the collective-farm movement.

    This made it possible to consolidate the success of the collective farm movement.

    It also made possible a new and powerful advance of the collective farm movement.

    Prior to the Party's adoption of the policy of eliminating the kulaks as a class, an energetic offensive against the capitalist elements with the object of eliminating them had been waged chiefly in the towns, on the industrial front. So far, the countryside, agriculture, had been lagging behind the towns, behind industry. Consequently, the offensive had not borne an all-round, complete and general character. But now that the backwardness of the countryside was becoming a thing of the past, now that the peasants' fight for the elimination of the kulak class had taken clear shape, and the Party had adopted the policy of eliminating the kulak class, the offensive against the capitalist elements assumed a general character, the partial offensive developed into an offensive along the whole front. By the time the Sixteenth Party Congress was convened, the general offensive against the capitalist elements was proceeding all along the line.

    The Sixteenth Party Congress met on June 26, 1930. It was attended by 1,268 delegates with vote and 891 delegates with voice but no vote, representing 1,260,874 Party members and 711,609 candidate members.

    The Sixteenth Party Congress is known in the annals of the Party as "the congress of the sweeping offensive of Socialism along the whole front, of the elimination of the kulaks as a class, and of the realization of solid collectivization." (Stalin.)

    Presenting the political report of the Central Committee, Comrade Stalin showed what big victories had been won by the Bolshevik Party in developing the Socialist offensive.

    Socialist industrialization had progressed so far that the share of industry in the total production of the country now predominated over that of agriculture. In the fiscal year 1929-30, the share of industry already comprised no less than 53 per cent of the total production of the country, while the share of agriculture was about 47 per cent.

    In the fiscal year 1926-27, at the time of the Fifteenth Party Congress, the total output of industry had been only 102.5 per cent of the pre-war output; in the year 1929-30, at the time of the Sixteenth Congress, it was already about 180 per cent.

    Heavy industry -- the production of means of production, machine-building -- was steadily growing in power.

    ". . . We are on the eve of the transformation of our country from an agrarian to an industrial country," declared Comrade Stalin at the congress, amidst hearty acclamation.

    Still, the high rate of industrial development, Comrade Stalin explained, was not to be confused with the level of industrial development. Despite the unprecedented rate of development of Socialist industry, we were still far behind the advanced capitalist countries as regards the level of industrial development. This was so in the case of electric power, in spite of the phenomenal progress of electrification in the U.S.S.R. This was the case with metal. According to the plan, the output of pig-iron in the U.S.S.R. was to be 5,500,000 tons in the year 1929-30, when the output of pig-iron in Germany in 1929 was 13,400,000 tons, and in France 10,450,000 tons. In order to make good our technical and economic backwardness in the minimum of time, our rate of industrial development had to be further accelerated, and a most resolute fight waged against the opportunists who were striving to reduce the rate of development of Socialist industry.

    ". . . People who talk about the necessity of reducing the rate of development of our industry are enemies of Socialism, agents of our class enemies," said Comrade Stalin. (Stalin, Leninism, Vol. II, "Political Report of the Central Committee to the Sixteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U.")

    After the program of the first year of the First Five-Year Plan had been successfully fulfilled and surpassed, a slogan originated among the masses -- "Fulfil the Five-Year Plan in Four Years." A number of branches of industry (oil, peat, general machine-building, agricultural machinery, electrical equipment) were carrying out their plans so successfully that their five-year-plans could be fulfilled in two and a half or three years. This proved that the slogan "The Five-Year Plan in Four Years" was quite feasible, and thus exposed the opportunism of the sceptics who doubted it.

    The Sixteenth Congress instructed the Central Committee of the Party to "ensure that the spirited Bolshevik tempo of Socialist construction be maintained, and that the Five-Year Plan be actually fulfilled in four years."

    By the time of the Sixteenth Party Congress, a momentous change had taken place in the development of agriculture in the U.S.S.R. The broad masses of the peasantry had turned towards Socialism. On May I, 1930, collectivization in the principal grain-growing regions embraced 40-50 per cent of the peasant households (as against 2-3 per cent in the spring of 1928). The crop area of the collective farms reached 36,000 hectares.

    Thus the increased program (30,000,000 hectares), laid down in the resolution of the Central Committee of January 5, 1930, was more than fulfilled. The five-year program of collective farm development had been fulfilled more than one and a half times in the space of two years.

    In three years the amount of produce marketed by the collective farms had increased more than forty-fold. Already in 1930 more than half the marketed grain in the country came from the collective farms, quite apart from the grain produced by the state farms.

    This meant that from now on the fortunes of agriculture would be decided not by the individual peasant farms, but by the collective and state farms.

    While, before the mass influx of the peasantry into the collective farms, the Soviet power had leaned mainly on Socialist industry, now it began to lean also on the rapidly expanding Socialist sector of agriculture, the collective and state farms.

    The collective farm peasantry, as the Sixteenth Party Congress stated in one of its resolutions, had become "a real and firm mainstay of the Soviet power."