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   T E N


OFFENSIVE AGAINST THE KULAKS. THE BUKHARIN-RYKOV ANTI-PARTY GROUP. ADOPTION OF THE FIRST FIVE-YEAR PLAN. SOCIALIST EMULATION. BEGINNING OF THE MASS COLLECTIVE-FARM MOVEMENT

    The agitation conducted by the bloc of Trotskyites and Zinovievites against the Party policy, against the building of Socialism, and against collectivization, as well as the agitation conducted by the Bukharinites, who said that nothing would come of the collective farms, that the kulaks should be let alone because they would "grow" into Socialism of themselves, and that the enrichment of the bourgeoisie represented no danger to Socialism -- all found an eager response among the capitalist elements in the country, and above all among the kulaks. The kulaks now knew from comments in the press that they were not alone, that they had defenders and intercessors in the persons of Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Rykov and others. Naturally, this could not but stiffen the kulaks' spirit of resistance against the policy of the Soviet Government. And, in fact, the resistance of the kulaks became increasingly stubborn. They refused en masse to sell to the Soviet state their grain surpluses, of which they had considerable hoards. They resorted to terrorism against the collective farmers, against Party workers and government officials in the countryside, and burned down collective farms and state granaries.

    The Party realized that until the resistance of the kulaks was broken, until they were defeated in open fight in full view of the peasantry, the working class and the Red Army would suffer from a food shortage, and the movement for collectivization among the peasants could not assume a mass character.

    In pursuance of the instructions of the Fifteenth Party Congress, the Party launched a determined offensive against the kulaks, putting into effect the slogan: rely firmly on the poor peasantry, strengthen the alliance with the middle peasantry, and wage a resolute struggle against the kulaks. In answer to the kulaks' refusal to sell their grain surpluses to the state at the fixed prices, the Party and the Government adopted a number of emergency measures against the kulaks, applied Article 107 of the Criminal Code empowering the courts to confiscate grain surpluses from kulaks and profiteers in case they refused to sell them to the state at the fixed prices, and granted the poor peasants a number of privileges, under which 25 per cent of the confiscated kulak grain was placed at their disposal.

    These emergency measures had their effect: the poor and middle peasants joined in the resolute fight against the kulaks; the kulaks were isolated, and the resistance of the kulaks and the profiteers was broken. By the end of 1928, the Soviet state already had sufficient stocks of grain at its disposal, and the collective-farm movement began to advance with surer strides.

    That same year, a large organization of wreckers, consisting of bourgeois experts, was discovered in the Shakhty district of the Donetz Coal Basin. The Shakhty wreckers were closely connected with the former mine owners -- Russian and foreign capitalists -- and with a foreign military espionage service. Their aim was to disrupt the development of Socialist industry and to facilitate the restoration of capitalism in the U.S.S.R. The wreckers had deliberately mismanaged the mines in order to reduce the output of coal, spoiled machinery and ventilation apparatus, caused roof-falls and explosions, and set fire to pits, plants and power stations. The wreckers had deliberately obstructed the improvement of the workers' conditions and had infringed the Soviet labour protection laws.

    The wreckers were put on trial and met with their deserts.

    The Central Committee of the Party directed all Party organizations to draw the necessary conclusions from the Shakhty case. Comrade Stalin declared that Bolshevik business executives must themselves become experts in the technique of production, so as no longer to be the dupes of the wreckers among the old bourgeois experts, and that the training of new technical personnel from the ranks of the working class must be accelerated.

    In accordance with a decision of the Central Committee, the training of young experts in the technical colleges was improved. Thousands of Party members, members of the Young Communist League and non-Party people devoted to the cause of the working class were mobilized for study.

    Before the Party took the offensive against the kulaks, and while it was engaged in liquidating the bloc of Trotskyites and Zinovievites, the Bukharin-Rykov group had been more or less lying low, holding themselves as a reserve of the anti-Party forces, not venturing to support the Trotskyites openly, and sometimes even acting together with the Party against the Trotskyites. But when the Party assumed the offensive against the kulaks, and adopted emergency measures against them, the Bukharin-Rykov group threw off their mask and began to attack the Party policy openly. The kulak soul of the Bukharin-Rykov group got the better of them, and they began to come out openly in defence of the kulaks. They demanded the repeal of the emergency measures, frightening the simple-minded with the argument that otherwise agriculture would begin to "decay," and even affirming that this process had already begun. Blind to the growth of the collective farms and state farms, those superior forms of agricultural organization, and perceiving the decline of kulak farming, they represented the decay of the latter as the decay of agriculture. In order to provide a theoretical backing for their case, they concocted the absurd "theory of the subsidence of the class-struggle," maintaining, on the strength of this theory, that the class struggle would grow milder with every victory gained by Socialism against the capitalist elements, that the class struggle would soon subside altogether and the class enemy would surrender all his positions without a fight, and that, consequently, there was no need for an offensive against the kulaks. In this way they tried to furbish up their threadbare bourgeois theory that the kulaks would peaceably grow into Socialism, and rode roughshod over the well-known thesis of Leninism that the resistance of the class enemy would assume more acute forms as the progress of Socialism cut the ground from under his feet and that the class struggle could "subside" only after the class enemy was destroyed.

    It was easy to see that in the Bukharin-Rykov group the Party was faced with a group of Right opportunists who differed from the bloc of Trotskyites and Zinovievites only in form, only in the fact that the Trotskyite and Zinovievite capitulators had had some opportunity of masking their true nature with Left, revolutionary vociferations about "permanent revolution," whereas the Bukharin-Rykov group, attacking the Party as they did for taking the offensive against the kulaks, could not possibly mask their capitulatory character and had to defend the reactionary forces in our country, the kulaks in particular, openly, without mask or disguise.

    The Party understood that sooner or later the Bukharin-Rykov group was bound to join hands with the remnants of the bloc of Trotskyites and Zinovievites for common action against the Party.

    Parallel with their political pronouncements, the Bukharin-Rykov group "worked" to muster and organize their following. Through Bukharin, they banded together young bourgeois elements like Slepkov, Maretsky, Eichenwald, Goldenberg; through Tomsky -- high bureaucrats in the trade unions (Melnichansky, Dogadov and others); through Rykov -- demoralized high Soviet officials (A. Smirnov, Eismont, V. Schmidt, and others). The group readily attracted people who had degenerated politically, and who made no secret of their capitulatory sentiments.

    About this time the Bukharin-Rykov group gained the support of high functionaries in the Moscow Party organization (Uglanov, Kotov, Ukhanov, Ryutin, Yagoda, Polonsky, and others). A section of the Rights kept under cover, abstaining from open attacks on the Party line. In the Moscow Party press and at Party meetings, it was advocated that concessions must be made to the kulaks, that heavy taxation of kulaks was inadvisable, that industrialization was burdensome to the people, and that the development of heavy industry was premature. Uglanov opposed the Dnieper hydro-electric scheme and demanded that funds be diverted from heavy industry to the light industries. Uglanov and the other Right capitulators maintained that Moscow was and would remain a gingham city, and that there was no need to build engineering works in Moscow.

    The Moscow Party organization unmasked Uglanov and his followers, gave them a final warning and rallied closer than ever around the Central Committee of the Party. At a plenary meeting of the Moscow Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B.), held in 1928, Comrade Stalin said that a fight must be waged on two fronts, with the fire concentrated on the Right deviation. The Rights, Comrade Stalin said, were kulak agents inside the Party.

    "The triumph of the Right deviation in our Party would unleash the forces of capitalism, undermine the revolutionary position of the proletariat and increase the chances of restoring capitalism in our country," said Comrade Stalin. (Stalin, Leninism, Vol. II.)

    At the beginning of 1929 it was discovered that Bukharin, authorized by the group of Right capitulators, had formed connections with the Trotskyites, through Kamenev, and was negotiating an agreement with them for a joint struggle against the Party. The Central Committee exposed these criminal activities of the Right capitulators and warned them that this affair might end lamentably for Bukharin, Rykov, Tomsky and the rest. But the Right capitulators would not heed the warning. At a meeting of the Central Committee they advanced a new anti-Party platform, in the form of a declaration, which the Central Committee condemned. It warned them again, reminding them of what had happened to the bloc of Trotskyites and Zinovievites. In spite of this, the Bukharin-Rykov group persisted in their anti-Party activities. Rykov, Tomsky and Bukharin tendered to the Central Committee their resignations, believing that they would intimidate the Party thereby. The Central Committee passed condemnation on this saboteur policy of resignations. Finally, a plenum of the Central Committee, held in November 1929, declared that the propaganda of the views of the Right opportunists was incompatible with membership of the Party; it resolved that Bukharin, as the instigator and leader of the Right capitulators, be removed from the Political Bureau of the Central Committee, and issued a grave warning to Rykov, Tomsky and other members of the Right opposition.

    Perceiving that matters had taken a lamentable turn, the chieftains of the Right capitulators submitted a statement acknowledging their errors and the correctness of the political line of the Party.

    The Right capitulators decided to effect a temporary retreat so as to preserve their ranks from debacle.

    This ended the first stage of the Party's fight against the Right capitulators.

    The new differences within the Party did not escape the attention of the external enemies of the Soviet Union. Believing that the "new dissensions" in the Party were a sign of its weakness, they made a new attempt to involve the U.S.S.R. in war and to thwart the work of

page 296

industrialization before it had got properly under way. In the summer of 1929, the imperialists provoked a conflict between China and the Soviet Union, and instigated the seizure of the Chinese Eastern Railway (which belonged to the U.S.S.R.) by the Chinese militarists, and an attack on our Far-Eastern frontier by troops of the Chinese Whites. But this raid of the Chinese militarists was promptly liquidated, the militarists, routed by the Red Army, retreated and the conflict ended in the signing of a peace agreement with the Manchurian authorities.

    The peace policy of the U.S.S.R. once more triumphed in the face of all obstacles, notwithstanding the intrigues of external enemies and the "dissensions" within the Party.

    Soon after this diplomatic and trade relations between the U.S.S.R. and Great Britain, which had been severed by the British Conservatives, were resumed.

    While successfully repulsing the attacks of the external and internal enemies, the Party was busily engaged in developing heavy industry, organizing Socialist emulation, building up state farms and collective farms, and, lastly, preparing the ground for the adoption and execution of the First Five-Year Plan for the development of the national economy.

    In April 1929, the Party held its Sixteenth Conference, with the First Five-Year Plan as the main tem on the agenda. The conference rejected the "minimal" variant of the Five-Year Plan advocated by the Right capitulators and adopted the "optimal" variant as binding under all circumstances.

    Thus, the Party adopted the celebrated First Five-Year Plan for the construction of Socialism.

    The Five-Year-Plan fixed the volume of capital investments in the national economy in the period 1928-33 at 64,600,000,000 rubles. Of this sum, 19,500,000,000 rubles were to be invested in industrial and electric-power development, 10,000,000,000 rubles in transport development and 23,200,000,000 rubles in agriculture.

    This was a colossal plan for the equipment of industry and agriculture of the U.S.S.R. with modern technique.

    "The fundamental task of the Five-Year Plan," said Comrade Stalin, "was to create such an industry in our country as would be able to re-equip and reorganize, not only the whole of industry, but also transport and agriculture -- on the basis of Socialism." (Stalin, Problems of Leninism, Russ. ed., p. 485.)

    For all the immensity of this plan, it did not nonplus or surprise the Bolsheviks. The way for it had been prepared by the whole course of development of industrialization and collectivization and it had been preceded by a wave of labour enthusiasm which caught up the workers and peasants and which found expression in Socialist emulation.

    The Sixteenth Party Conference adopted an appeal to all working people, calling for the further development of Socialist emulation.

    Socialist emulation had produced many an instance of exemplary labour and of a new attitude to labour. In many factories, collective farms and state farms, the workers and collective farmers drew up counter-plans for an output exceeding that provided for in the state plans. They displayed heroism in labour. They not only fulfilled, but exceeded the plans of Socialist development laid down by the Party and the Government. The attitude to labour had changed. From the involuntary and penal servitude it had been under capitalism, it was becoming "a matter of honour, a matter of glory, a matter of valour and heroism." (Stalin.)

    New industrial construction on a gigantic scale was in progress all over the country. The Dnieper hydro-electric scheme was in full swing. Construction work on the Kramatorsk and Gorlovka Iron and Steel Works and the reconstruction of the Lugansk Locomotive Works had begun in the Donetz Basin. New collieries and blast furnaces came into being. The Urals Machine-Building Works and the Berezniki and Solikamsk Chemical Works were under construction in the Urals. Work was begun on the construction of the iron and steel mills of Magnitogorsk. The erection of big automobile plants in Moscow and Gorky was well under way, as was the construction of giant tractor plants, harvester combine plants, and a mammoth agricultural machinery plant in Rostov-on-Don. The Kuznetsk collieries, the Soviet Union's second coal base, were being extended. An immense tractor works sprang up in the steppe near Stalingrad in the space of eleven months. In the erection of the Dnieper Hydro-Electric Station and the Stalingrad Tractor Works, the workers beat world records in productivity of labour.

    History had never known industrial construction on such a gigantic scale, such enthusiasm for new development, such labour heroism on the part of the working-class millions.

    It was a veritable upsurge of labour enthusiasm, produced and stimulated by Socialist emulation.

    This time the peasants did not lag behind the workers. In the countryside, too, this labour enthusiasm began to spread among the peasant masses who were organizing their collective farms. The peasants definitely began to turn to collective farming. In this a great part was played by the state farms and the machine and tractor stations. The

page 298

peasants would come in crowds to the state farms and machine and tractor stations to watch the operation of the tractors and other agricultural machines, admire their performance and there and then resolve: "Let's join the collective farm." Divided and disunited, each on his tiny, dwarf individually-run farm, destitute of anything like serviceable implements or traction, having no way of breaking up large tracts of virgin soil, without prospect of any improvement on their farms, crushed by poverty, isolated and left to their own devices, the peasants had at last found a way out, an avenue to a better life, in the amalgamation of their small farms into co-operative undertakings, collective farms; in tractors, which are able to break up any "hard ground," any virgin soil; in the assistance rendered by the state in the form of machines, money, men, and counsel; in the opportunity to free themselves from bondage to the kulaks, who had been quite recently defeated by the Soviet Government and forced to the ground, to the joy of the millions of peasants.

    On this basis began the mass collective-farm movement, which later developed rapidly, especially towards the end of 1929, progressing at an unprecedented rate, a rate unknown even to our Socialist industry.

    In 1928 the total crop area of the collective farms was 1,390,000 hectares, in 1929 it was 4,262,000 hectares, while in 1930 the ploughing plan of the collective farms was already 15,000,000 hectares.

    "It must be admitted," said Comrade Stalin in his article, "A Year of Great Change" (1929), in reference to the collective farms, "that such an impetuous speed of development is unequalled even in our socialized large-scale industry, which in general is noted for its outstanding speed of development."

    This was a turning point in the development of the collective-farm movement.

    This was the beginning of a mass collective-farm movement.

    "What is the new feature of the present collective-farm movement?" asked Comrade Stalin in his article, "A Year of Great Change." And he answered:
    "The new and decisive feature of the present collective-farm movement is that the peasants are joining the collective farms not in separate groups, as was formerly the case, but in whole villages, whole volosts (rural districts), whole districts and even whole areas. And what does that mean? It means that the middle peasant has joined the collective-farm movement. And that is the basis of that radical change in the development of agriculture which represents the most important achievement of the Soviet Government. . . ."

    This meant that the time was becoming ripe, or had already become ripe, for the elimination of the kulaks as a class, on the basis of solid collectivization.