Purging for the Good of the State

Stalin had a clear agenda for what he wanted to get done in the Soviet economy. The base of the society rests on if they can get food, so naturally agriculture is very important to the success of an economy. Due to the poor results he was getting from the agricultural sector, he sought to find new ways to inspire production from the Soviet people.

Interestingly, the dominant force within Soviet argriculture were the kulaks, the peasants who controlled the majority of production or were doing well for themselves. While the term represented a large spectrum of wealth, they were an oddball in a socialist country. Stalin saw these people to be enemies of the state and began to discredit them through party agitators and eventually began to purge them.1 Stalin realized that these kulaks did hold a tremendous amount of power on a local level, which matters more to the everyday lives of the Soviet citizen. In his essay regarding the grain crisis, he reiterates that those who seek to return to kulak farming are similar to that of the great serf estates of the tsarist regime.2 He also mentions that the kulak is the antithesis of communism, and for that reason alone, it should not be allowed. Stalin mentions how the kulaks have lost a large amount of power in the years leading up to his writing, and now they can finally bring the power of the kulaks into the realm of the state so that it can produce for everyone.3

A year after his essay on the liquidation of the kulaks, Stalin writes in the party newspaper, Pravda, that the successes of liquidating an entire class of people has been phenomenal for the state as a whole. The success was “dizzying” and this sets a very dangerous precedent for the rest of Stalin’s reign. He is justifying the murder of his own people for the good of the state and the party. He sees success in the rural community through his destruction of the kulaks, writing, “It shows that the radical turn of the rural districts towards Socialism may already be regarded as guaranteed.”4 By defending murder for the good of the state, Stalin is tightening his grip on the Soviet Union more and more.

The rural parts of the Soviet Union were always going to be the hardest to adjust to socialism, and Stalin believed that drastic steps were needed to impose it upon them. By removing their local “lords” and replacing them with the state, Stalin is taking the steps towards having socialism entirely in one country.


  1.  http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1929-2/collectivization/ []
  2.  http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1929-2/collectivization/collectivization-texts/stalin-on-the-grain-crisis/ []
  3.  http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1929-2/collectivization/collectivization-texts/stalin-on-the-liquidation-of-the-kulak/ []
  4.  http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1929-2/collectivization/collectivization-texts/dizzy-with-success/ []

3 thoughts on “Purging for the Good of the State

  1. Stalin’s need for power and control went to extreme amounts, from purging party members to discrediting a group of peasants simply because they didn’t agree with him. It seems he would’ve done nearly anything to maintain his control and make sure socialism continued no matter what.

  2. While comparing the kulaks to the tsarist regime was an easy way out for Stalin to eliminate them, in doing so he then had to solve the issue of displacing the entire class which ended in mass murders. As the Kulaks were already local leaders, it could have been simpler for Stalin to force control over the kulaks, because they were an established power over the peasants, saving thousands of kulak lives in the process. However, with Stalin’s power hungry nature he never would have allowed such independent rule in rural Russia.

    • I agree that it would have been far more practical to try to bring Kulaks into the party instead of simply killing them off. This tactic would also be more time-consuming and its failure would lead to executions anyway. I think it’s an indication of Stalin’s mindset, in regards to the peasants he seems to have little to no concern about public opinion. I also agree that attempting less violent tactics may have led to more autonomy in the country side which Stalin would never tolerate.

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