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Why and With What Success did Stalin Embark on an

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Why and With What Success did Stalin Embark on an Assault on Agriculture in 1930? The heart of the issue in assessing why Stalin embarked on this policy of aggression is in asserting whether, collectivisation and the war on the Kulaks was an economic necessity or an act of sheer brutality designed to break the peasantry into submission. In 1929, the party moved in favour of collectivised agriculture - large state-organized farms in place of small private peasant plots, and the destruction of independent market in agricultural products. Mass collectivisation began in October; a month later Stalin announced what he called the "The Great Turn" in the process of building a modern, socialized agriculture. He saw the crisis as central to revolutionary survival: "Either we succeed," he told the Central Committee plenum, "or we go under." On 27 December 1929 Stalin finally called for an uncompromising policy of "liquidating the Kulaks as a class". The language of violent class warfare would permeate all rural policy. The scale of collectivisation was staggering, 120 million people living in 600,000 villages were directly effected. 25 million individual holdings were consolidated into 240,000 state-controlled collective farms in a matter of months. I shall now examine each of the factors that influenced this assault in turn. An instigator to collectivisation was the grain procurement crisis of 1927-8. The regime had extreme difficulty in extracting grain from the peasants in this period and Stalin knew this would have to change for long term stability, even if this required short term suffering. ...read more.


As collectivisation became more urgent, long term goals melted into the background. In the year of the aforementioned "great breakthrough" Stalin announced that collectivisation was already a fact of life. This was prompted by the doubling of the number of collectivised households that had taken place in the months of June through to October. At the subsequent Central Committee plenum it was decided that there existed "a move of the broadest mass of peasant households towards cowards collective forms of agriculture. However the majority of peasants who entered the collective willingly were the poorest, who had the least to lose. The bulk of mid peasantry held back. Molotov indeed admitted that available incentives were "chicken-feed". And there was nowhere near enough tractors available. Stalin could have reassured the middle peasants they would not lose their animals to the state. It was the influence of the Kulaks that held the middle peasants back. Stalin thus declared a policy of "liquidating the Kulaks as a class". He found authority for this in Lenin's War Communism, where he said that the Kulaks were "bloodsuckers, vampires and robbers of the people." However a Kulak class barely existed in the late 1920s. This was largely the point - the term was so elastic, it could be applied to any peasants resisting collectivisation. Lenin's warning "coercion towards the middle peasant is a supremely harmful thing...To act here by means of coercion is to ruin the whole cause"- was now forgotten. ...read more.


The peasants had no incentive to improve productivity which remained extremely low. Productivity was much greater on the peasants' private plot, but these accounted for only a miniscule proportion of the total land under cultivation. The Russian serf's obligatory service had taken the form of bars-china working so many days a year on the landowner's fields. The reintroduction of the internal passport, and its denial to the peasantry, bonded the peasants as solid to his village. Procurement rose from an average 18.2 million to 27.5 million in five years, despite a decline in the harvests. The peasantry which had yielded to the state only 14% of the grain harvest in 1928, yielded 26% in 1931 and 40% in 1933. Infamously, Stalin was willing to drive living standards below subsistence level in 1933 to extract grain and break the peasantry. 10 million tons of grain was exported in the proceeding two years and nearly 2 million tons of grain a year continued to be exported as famine raged. Stalin passed the five stalk law whereby dealing of collective property was punishable by a minimum of 10 years prison with no amnesty, within five moths over 50,000 had been reprimanded. Thus I would argue that despite the undoubted hardship and oppression that his policies created it seems as though he achieved a great deal of his collectivisation goals. In this respect his aggressive actions against agriculture were successful from 1930. ?? ?? ?? ?? T. Clough U6TDA A2 History Dr. Devlin ...read more.

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