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To what extent do the sources agree that Russian government policy on agriculture consistently failed and that peasants resisted it under both Tsarist and Communist rule?

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Introduction

James Morris-Cotterill 13Hy History Coursework To what extent do the sources agree that Russian government policy on agriculture consistently failed and that peasants resisted it under both Tsarist and Communist rule? Agrarian policy was not a continuous failure between Emancipation and Khruschev, yet harboured very few successes. The period is, however, characterised by failure, success punctuating the period infrequently. Government policy will be viewed in light of its effects on the peasant economic position rather than morally. The peasants resisted most government policy throughout the period, although not always overtly or violently as will be shown with reference to the sources. Emancipation must be considered a failure. Source 1 contains little enquiry into the policy's effects on the peasant economic position, although Hingley insinuates that it suffered as a result of the policy: "receiving too little land for their needs" and "having to pay far more...than they could afford". ...read more.

Middle

In this respect the policy could be viewed as a success for the government; a supply of grain for the towns and industry at a low fixed price was attained. The Virgin Lands policy is seen as a failure by Shevardnadse. Success is only mentioned indirectly; "stupid decisions... cancelled out many successes". As was the case with Stalin, Gigantism was still inherent in communism, "billions of roubles and vast amounts of equipment and manpower were squandered", and from this stemmed a lack of incentive and spontaneity (samotyok), as fulfillment of targets was only met with higher quotas. Whilst "he interfered, reorganized and campaigned too much", the policy did advance grain production 14% in spite of Khrushchev, although far less than the expected 70% increase between 1958-1965. Shevardnadse's comments that the Virgin Lands policy was "grandiose...but poorly organised" with "stupid decisions and ill-conceived strategies" are not only true but could also be applied to the whole of Russian policy during the period. ...read more.

Conclusion

Resistance here is not mentioned, perhaps alluded to in the lack of ability of those "worked... ragged" so defiance was lost in a weary haze. However, the reason for the lack of resistance was that the rural population was broken. Collectivisation had destroyed all resolve and strength that the peasants had. They were the "generation of neglect and impoverishment". Source 5 again, supplements little, although failure to fulfill quotas may demonstrate passive resistance. However, resistance also surfaced in regions and periods not covered by the sources, such as the uprisings accompanying the 1905 revolution and the 1920 Tambov rebellions. Resistance in some form was inherent throughout the period. Thus, government policy, viewed in terms of economic effect on the country and its dwellers must be considered a failure, although not a consistent one. Success was anomalous and usually reticent, yet did surface, although infrequently, to break ruts of failure. Likewise, continuity in the prevalence of resistance was apparent, defiance existing in some form throughout the period, although not always indubitable. ...read more.

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