Collectivization as a Revolution at what Costs?

A few things of note that stand out in this article on the collectivization of farms following the revolution are the thinking of the central committee and Stalin that they lost control of the process. In the rural country side the obvious discord or disconnect showed in thinking and actions of the rural cadres and even those sent from the city to help in the collectivization of farms who made up the group known as 25,000ers. The brutal treatment of rural peasant by the cadres and the 25,000ers created a class system within itself. Stalin realized the danger in these practices and impressed the need to stop using such tactics in fear of possible civil war. He stated, “Collective farms must not be established by force. That would be foolish and reactionary. The collective-farm must rest on the active support of the main mass of the peasantry”1). He acknowledged that while artel production is socialized, that small plots for vegetables, dwelling houses, small livestock and poultry and even some dairy cow are not socialized ”2). The very ideals socialism is to correct is what is happening in these rural areas, with new class distinctions appearing.

Another point that is of interests is that during this collectivization movement taking place, “wholesale closing of churches and the desecration of religious object” took place as well.3) The closing of markets happened at this same period also. Perhaps the reason behind this action is to limit the place where people could congregate and discuss the current events taking place. It also directed people to the only source of support—the state. Even Stalin commented on this “I say nothing of those “revolutionaries”—save the mark!—who begin the work of organizing artels by removing the bells from the churches. Just imagine, removing the church bells—how r-r-revolutionary!”4). However, of note, is that a lack of places of worship did not stop the people from using religion as a tool against the state. Old women trying to prevent ones from joining the collective farm used such teachings as tying the collective farm to the anti-Christ. Did this have any effect with the efforts of the socialist? “Based on an apocalyptic mind-set and on reasoning unchanged from the days of the schism, the rumors confounded the activities of the 25,000ers at every step”.5)

How far the revolution deviated from Marx thinking on socialism based on the actions during this time. Individuals forced to accept socialism. Should not have they simply drawn to it as far better than their current situation? Obvious class distinctions among even the peasants and those sent to begin the collectivization of farms goes completely against Marxism. Actively stamping out religion, something that would just eventually go away on its own according to Marx due to the fact socialism is the solution to what religion fulfills in the masses.

  1. Stalin, J. V., Dizzy With Success) Pravda no. 60, 1930, p. 485 []
  2. Stalin, J. V., Dizzy With Success) Pravda no. 60, 1930, p. 488 []
  3. Daniels, Robert V., ed. The Stalin Revolution: Foundations of the Totalitarian Era.) Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997, p. 112 []
  4. Stalin, J. V., Dizzy With Success) Pravda no. 60, 1930, p. 490 []
  5. Daniels, Robert V., ed. The Stalin Revolution: Foundations of the Totalitarian Era.) Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997, p. 119 []

One thought on “Collectivization as a Revolution at what Costs?

  1. I agree that the launching of the First Five Year Plan was completely lacking in training and organization. This was a debacle of discordance between the Soviet leader’s desires and those who they sent into the rural areas proceeding to do as they saw fit. Did these men become power hungry and thereby over inflating their sense of importance and comprehension of their commissions? To take all of the small livestock from peasant farmers removes a large food source and labor force for field work. The power inflated egos wielding rifles with a pen in hand for compliance and all of the other revolutionary actions taking place only functioning as reinforcement in the peasants’ minds that they were losing their lifestyle and that it was only going to sink lower if they agreed to the collective farms. I think it was sheer brilliance of the women to protest knowing that their men would stand up to protect them from violence. This act seemed to show more forethought than the state’s plan on how to initiate compliance with their outlandish demands of grain from the peasants.

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