Archives for category: Collectivisation

Phillips again here, and let me tell you about the disastrous economic results of the collectivisation.

The slaughtering of the livestocks by the kulaks had serious effect on livestock numbers which led to shortage of meat and milk.  Between 1928 and 1933, the number of cattle halved, which only recovered in 1953.  Grain production also fell from 73.3 M tonnes in 1928 to 67.6 M tonnes in 1934, impacting on the countryside as more grain is sized by the government under the system of state procurement.  The aim of producing enough food to feed the towns and the Red army was achieved but only by taking the necessary supplies from the countryside. The rural population also starved in order to release food for export to gain foreign exchange.

Result: widespread famine in the year 1932-33 which especially affected the Ukraine, Kazakhstan and the Caucasus region.

Peasants started to move into the towns for food the government introduced the passport system which peasants found it impossible to get.  They became tied to the collective in a system which began to partly resemble that of serfdom, from which the peasants were supposedly liberated from in 1861.  SInce the peasants were unable to move from the collectives, some resorted to their own children in order to survive.  The government officially denied any existence of famine, a claim supported by foreign visitors to the USSR such as British socialists Sidney and Beatrice Web since they had been escorted to model collectives, far away from famine area.  Newly available soviet data suggests number of famine-related deaths at 4M for 1933 alone.

The economic failure of collectivisation was partly due to inadequate planning and chaotic implementation.  Undertaken without information, the collectives were often too large and suffered from too much control by party officials in Moscow giving orders to collectives while taking little account of local conditions.  The mass movement of peasants from the countryside to the towns, which took place before the introduction of passports had deprived the collectives of young able-bodied peasants, which limited the success of the collectives.

Another aspect of poor planning was the aim of mechanizing agriculture. The push to collective was not coordinated with the manufacture other agricultural machineries such as tractors. It was not until mid-1930s that the use of machine became widespread on the collectives.  The creation of Motor Tractor Stations (MTS) which provided machinery for the peasants and political lectures on the benefits of socialism. It was despised by the peasants as agents of central took control.

The divide between the town and the country was deepened by collectivisation and generated hostility. The loose alliance between the peasants and the  workers, which had been created by the Bolsheviks during the revolution of 1917, was shattered with the policy to sacrifice the needs of the country for those of the town.

The collectivized peasant households increased from 62% in 1932 to 93% in 1937.  We have started with removing old world elements such as priests and school masters, and the kolkhoz administration replaces the mir.  We have the Communist Young Pioneers organization to prevent the peasants from stealing the food.

How dare they?! How dare the party do this to us? The party has no right to take everything we own!  So far, most of the peasants in village I know in Ukraine and Caucasus opposed to the collectivization.  We have burned our farms and slaughtered our animals than to hand it in to the government.  I heard some villages have killed their officials.  The party is cunning though,  the dekulakisation squads are sent in from the cities to force collectivization on us.  Also, the secret police called OGPU are starting to round up us who did not cooperate with the collectivization.

In this exciting year of 1929, collectivization is now mandatory for everyone to speed up the pace.  Kulaks are not allowed to the new collectives, and are to be deported to Siberia and Urals.  Yours truly, the local party official, will come to your village to announce the collective farm kolkhoz and give a lecture about the advantages of collective.  The collective would collect animals, grain and buildings as property.

For Stalin himself, by deciding on collectivization, Stalin would be able to increase in his position and power at the expense of other members who shared leadership.  For example, those who supported the NEP such as Bukharin, Tomsky, Rykov were all demoted within the party.  It was also necessary for Stalin to sweep away economic and political capitalist influence, as it would increase industrialization and speed up the modernization of Russia, in order to remove obstacle both within and without USSR.

I know being an official is a hard job, but now it has become harder.  How are we supposed to raise production without incentives for the peasants?  First, in the State procurement, the amount of surplus grain given to the government by the peasants was decreasing since 1926, because peasants have grown wary of growing too much food as it would be taken by the state at a low price.  Second, the lack of industrial goods to buy with profit made from food surplus also did not help with encouraging production.  We are facing a dilemma, a scissor crisis, because the increase in industrial production relies on the increase in food production.

The Soviet Officials Blog

The previous policy of NEP is not up to date.  It has been unchanged since the revolution of 1917, and it was intended as a compromise on the issue of government controlling food supply.  As you all know, it has been running by mir, some village elders.  So, in order to move forward in our effort to socialism, we must start collectivization. You might ask, why do we need collectivization, and here’s a few reasons. First, the fear of invasion by foreign powers, and this drives our need for industrialization; and for that, we need to establish economic base to protect itself against capitalist attack.  For industrialization to happen, we must increase great Russia’s food supply, as:

  1. Industrialization would lead to increase in population both in towns and cities, which would need food
  2. Industrialization would require technology from abroad, which can be obtained by foreign exchange.  That would require increase of food supply for surplus

Also, labor is needed in new industrial centers, which can be acquired from the agriculture sector of production. So, efficiency of agriculture has to be improved for such transfer of production force, and Stalin believes that the state of agriculture and attitude of the sections of peasantry like you, might be hindering industrial progress.

The Russian traditional agriculture with small peasant plots is inefficient in the usual piecemeal fashion, so by collectivizing the farms, larger farm units would be created for better use of machinery.  Machinery would also increase food production, decreasing labor requirement to release workers for industrial growth.

Collectivization would also help to extend socialism into the countryside. In the NEP, only less than 1% of farmland was collectivized.  Collectivization will be able to help you, the peasant, to get rid of the kulaks, the rich peasants who have hoarded food for themselves and leaving little for the rest like the industrial workers.  So without collectivization, USSR would not have socialism anymore!