'The Making of Modern Russia', 1856-1964.
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Thursday, 3rd October 2003 Jad Salfiti A2 History Coursework: Unit 5c 'The Making of Modern Russia', 1856-1964 a) To what extent do these sources agree that Russian government policy on agriculture consistently failed and that peasants resisted it under both Tsarist and Communist rule? Source1 concerns the emancipation statute of 1861. Western historian Ronald Hingley cites the introduction of redemption payments "serfs resented receiving too little land for their needs" this undermines the fundamental aims of the policy. Source 1 makes reference to how the Mir was in charge of paying the redemption payments for the whole village. Hingley points out that "individual peasants were bound in various ways to their village communes"; peasants were detained in their villages until the payments were received. Hingley notes the creation of Special Courts delegated to discipline unruly peasants "the flogging of recalcitrant peasants" this is evidence of peasant rebellion, mainly due to the fact they were in a poorer position after emancipation than they were before the policy was introduced. Source 1 suggests agricultural policies were a failure, and provoked peasant uprising, due to the hope the emancipation edict gave peasants of being free.
Stolypin's reforms were based on good principles that could have revitalized agriculture in Russia. This does suggest that this reform did bring some success, but the general consensus confirms that many peasants preferred social security resulting in the failure of the policy. Source 3 is an excerpt from a meeting between Churchill and Stalin during the Second World War. We se Stalin's personal view regarding the collective farm policy, it is thus a subjective piece of evidence. Stalin implies suggests that the collective farm policy was a failure; he refers to the policy as "a terrible struggle". Stalin insinuates peasant resistance against the policy, stating some kulaks were "wiped out by their labourers" the resistance was a product of peasant reluctance to work on collectivised farms. The farms provided little reward or incentive to the actual peasants growing the grain resulting in the dramatic deterioration of the quality and quantity of the grain. Source 3 ends with an important comment that food supply had been "vastly increased" this indicates policy victory. However modern evidence undermines Stalin's statement, STATISTIC more and more people were dying of famine during the period of collectivization.
In Source 4 it is suggested that the policy could have been a triumph had it not been for "stupid decisions" which weighed down many successes. These "ill-conceived strategies" included lack of coherence between the crops and the terrain, and deficiency of storage place for the grain, consequently the "crops rotted in the fields". Source 5 reinforces the feeling that the scheme was a failure, as the agricultural output during the seven year plan only increased by 14%, the target for 1965 was 170, only 114 was achieved. Source 6 also argued that Khrushchev's policy was for the most part unsuccessful. However the failure is blamed on Khrushchev's inheritance of "a generation of neglect". The reliability of some sources must be taken into consideration. Some sources suggest subjectivity and bias such as Sources 3 and 4. Policies such as Stolypin's land reforms and Khrushchev's Virgin Land Schemes are shown to have limited success, but ultimately they both failed to reach targets required. By and large, all the sources do converge in the belief that most of the agricultural policies did fail consistently to a degree. Similarly there is evidence that it was resisted by Peasantry both under Tsarist and Communist rule.
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